For all their great escapes in recent years, Wigan Athletic now look in serious danger of joining a select group of Premier League teams who’ve managed to reach the FA Cup final and get relegated in the same season.
With weekend results conspiring to leave the Latics five points adrift, they are now 2/5 favourites to follow Middlesbrough (1997) and Portsmouth (2010) in reaching Wembley the same season they head for the Championship.
Up until 4:50pm on Saturday, Roberto Martinez would’ve been feeling pretty happy with his side’s position as they were on course to climb out of the relegation zone before a last-minute Emmerson Boyce own-goal cost them two points against Tottenham.
Even then, their point against the Champions League hopefuls looked a decent one, particularly with main relegation rivals Aston Villa and Sunderland still due to play each other on Monday night.
However, with Villa pulling off an incredible 6-1 victory that not even the staunchest claret-and-blue fan would have predicted, Martinez’s side are left realistically needing at least six points from their remaining three games in order to retain their top-flight status for an eighth season in a row.
After recording their second biggest-ever Premier League victory, Paul Lambert’s side did much to dispel their own relegation fears and shorten their survival odds to 7/100.
At the same time, the result marked the clear end of Paolo Di Canio’s honeymoon period at Sunderland and puts their Premier League position back in the balance at 14/1.
Yet I fancy Di Canio’s undoubtedly fiery response to that defeat will ensure Sunderland claim the points needed to stay above the safety line with a win against one of their upcoming midtable opponents at either 21/20 (Stoke City) or 11/10 (Southampton).
In fact, the side seemingly most at risk of joining Reading and QPR in next season’s Championship are Sunderland’s north-east rivals Newcastle United.
The Toon suffered their own six-goal humiliation at the hands of Liverpool on Saturday to leave them 13/2 for the drop at just five points above the danger zone and with only four points taken from the past 18 available.
That will need to change at West Ham next weekend if the Magpies aren’t to join their own select group (alongside Ipswich in 2002) to play in Europe and be relegated in the same campaign.