Aston Villa’s comprehensive 6-1 win over relegation rivals, Sunderland, last night (Monday) looks to have, in my opinion, ended Wigan Athletic’s hopes of survival.
After Queens Park Rangers and Reading played out a 0-0 draw on Sunday, which relegated both sides back to the Championship, it was left between the Latics and the Villains to fight amongst themselves in the battle to survive.
Mathematically, Wigan can still survive. But in all honesty, the task is too much for a team filled with average players. To me, Wigan have no real stand-out players. This is something which the teams they can catch have.
To begin though, I’m going to suggest that the stereotypical 40 points is enough to keep any side in the Premier League this season. I’m saying this, because mathematically, the DW stadium side could still finish ninth.
The team which I think Wigan have the best chance of catching, is Norwich City. At the start of the season I had tipped them to go down, along with Reading and Southampton, however, the Saint’s look set to prove me wrong on that one.
Catch the Canaries
Norwich went on a terrific run earlier this season, which left me baffled to the extent I was thinking that they could push for European football, but they are in a terrible run of form, and have not really bounced back up the table. Although they don’t have, in my opinion, a real stand out player, they have already shown this season that they have the ability to play well against the teams around them in the table, and if they can rediscover that form, then they should be ok.
Villa’s result against the Black Cats left Newcastle United teetering above the relegation zone. However, with the players they have – Yohan Cabaye, Cheick Tiote, Papiss Cisse, Hatem Ben Arfa to name but a few, they surely have the firepower to stay up. It is with players like the ones I have just mentioned and the passion which can be found at St James’ Park that the club should manage to beat the drop.
As I already mentioned, I think Southampton are already safe. The main reason for this, I believe, is Rickie Lambert. The former Bristol Rovers frontman has scored so many vital goals  for the South coast club this season that they should be safe in their current position, on 39 points.
Another side which has not been lacking in firepower up top, is Aston Villa, as they demonstrated in their demolition job of Sunderland last night. It may be stating the obvious, but one man is to thank for their apparent safety – Christian Benteke. The big Belgian has been one of the stars of the season, not just at Villa Park, but in the Premier League as a whole and I wouldn’t be surprised if he found himself elsewhere next season. He has now scored 18 goals for the Midlands club, which means only Robin Van Persie, Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale have scored more than him in the Premier League.
Benteke has scored 18 goals for his club this season
The final team to consider is Sunderland. Since Paolo Di Canio took over at the Stadium of Light, there have been mixed performances from the Black Cats. They were unlucky in their 2-1 defeat at the hands of Chelsea, beat Everton and destroyed their bitter rivals, Newcastle and then crumbled to Villa last night. They just seem to be a very hot and cold team. If the team play the way they did last night, and Wigan do pick up a win in their next games, then who knows what could happen. With the injury to Steven Fletcher, the responsibility falls to the club’s midfield to provide goals – something which I’m not sure they can do.
End of the road
I still think that Wigan’s stay in the Premiership is nearing its end and I will be disappointed to see them go down because I enjoy watching them play, especially against the ‘big’ teams because they always seem to perform well against them.
However, as the old cliché states: you never know with football.
Who knows what will happen over the next couple of weeks, Wigan could win all of their games and prove me wrong. Hopefully they do.