Weekend defeats for Hull, Aston Villa and Sunderland poured further fuel on the raging inferno of relegation fear devastating the nervous systems of these clubs’ supporters, yet the shortcomings of the trio below them will ensure their Premier League statuses are preserved.
Fortunately for the troubled triumvirate, Burnley, QPR and Leicester were all bested in their respective games against Southampton, Everton and Tottenham too, meaning the bottom three places remained the same for the second consecutive week.
As the season’s end draws nearer, it looks almost impossible for Leicester and QPR to survive, while Burnley have a one-point deficit to make up and a challenging fixture list to contend with.
Understandably, the Clarets are the shortest price to stay up with bwin going 67/100 that they beat the drop, though with matches against Tottenham, Arsenal and Everton on the horizon it’s a distinct possibility they’re still on 25 points at full-time on matchday 33.
The Super Hoops are three points worse off than Sean Dyche’s side having lost their last five games, blowing two golden opportunities to exert some pressure on those above them across this period.
Facing a Spurs side who were playing their third game in a week at Loftus Road was a chance to snare a point at point at least, while there can’t have been a better time to face Everton than directly off the back of their 5-2 Europa League thrashing in Kiev.
Both games yielded no points and with Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City still to come, it looks all over, Red Rover for Chris Ramsey’s troops.
Leicester – 6/4 to finish bottom – have an extra game to eat into the margin between them and their foes, but that’s against Chelsea so there’s little hope for them there.
After going down 4-3 at Spurs, they’re seven points behind the 17th-place pace so even if they were to somehow beat the Blues, they’d still need to make up a further four and hope Sunderland don’t take a point in that time just draw level.
A paltry two wins against direct rivals – Hull and Aston Villa – has been a major factor behind the Foxes’ demise and seven league matches in which they’ve inputted vast amounts of energy and extracted no wins suggests they lack the quality to improve their standing.
QPR’s empty threats of a dash for survival first aired in victory at Sunderland were extinguished in the Super Hoops’ next five fixtures.
Ramsey’s temporary term in charge has done little to prove he’s a capable helmsman, though one or two wins between now and game 38 – a spell in which they face the likes of Aston Villa, West Ham and Newcastle – should ensure they finish ahead of Leicester.
Burnley are the only team able to prevent last season’s promoted trio going back down, but their inability to record the right results against those around them will prevent an escape act being successfully completed – it’ll be an 18th-place finish for the Clarets.
Those who believe the drop-zone picture will look the same once the season is over can get paid out at a sizeable 9/2, which must be the best way to make money from the relegation markets.