Defeat at Swansea pushed Aston Villa, already separated from Premier League relegation by a hairline, even closer to the Championship.
Their situation was compounded further by a shock win for Norwich City at West Bromwich Albion, which inflated the gap between themselves and survival to a whopping 12 points with just 21 left to play for.
Even the most optimistic of Villa fans are resigned to their fate and those who aren’t, well, they ought to be, so as the death knell tolls ever-louder, lets speculate as to when the west Midlanders will be put out of their misery.
Their remaining fixtures are as follows: Chelsea (h), Bournemouth (h), Manchester United (a), Southampton (h), Watford (a), Newcastle (h) and Arsenal (a).
Not many points-scoring opportunities amongst this bunch for even the most valiant of strugglers.
Having lost six successive games, scoring twice in response to the 18 they’ve leaked, Villa are in no way, shape or form attempting to raise the hopes of supporters that they might yet survive and recent results indicate they’ll struggle on this relatively torrid run in.
With 12 points between them and safety, the earliest they could go down is following the conclusion of game 34, which will be contested at Old Trafford.
This is, of course, assuming the bar set for survival doesn’t get raised any higher, though it almost certainly will. With a reformed Chelsea, who haven’t lost a Premier League match under Guus Hiddink, up next, they’re sure to remain on 16 points after game 32.
Then come Bournemouth.
The Cherries are one of three teams this season with the ignominy of a loss to Aston Villa on their CV, but scintillating away form in 2016 has propelled them to near-guaranteed survival.
Ahead of their trip to Tottenham Hotspur, they hadn’t lost on a single road trip of seven in 2016 and with the Villans surrendering the spoils in three straight home games by a margin of at least two goals in each, all signs point to revenge for Eddie Howe’s men.
Two reverses would leave RemI Garde’s troops marooned on 16 points, meaning a win and a draw for Norwich would send them down. Unfortunately for Villa, the Canaries host Newcastle next before traveling to spiraling Crystal Palace who haven’t triumphed in the league since mid-December.
Four points are easily-attainable from these fixtures, so Villa won’t have to wait too long for their fate to be sealed.