Bolton, Blackburn, QPR, Wigan & Wolves ready for relegation tussle
Alex Sharp looks back at another key weekend of Premier League games, as the fight to beat the drop heats up
As the Manchester title race continues to rumble on, the fight for survival in the Premier League is hotting up.
Thankfully, on the topic of survival, Fabrice Muamba’s condition continues to improve as his message inspired his team-mates to a crucial three points at the Reebok on Saturday.
For a local derby, the atmosphere prior to kick off was relatively subdued and for once in football common sense prevailed as Blackburn were sensitive to the situation.
It was a bad time to play Bolton, who evidently wanted a result for Muamba and Blackburn were hampered by the occasion. Remarkably, the win means Bolton have won successive games for the first time since April 2011 – what a timely boost.
If Owen Coyle’s men can win their game in hand they’ll have some breathing space. Obviously, the return to White Hart Lane in the FA Cup on Tuesday will be emotional but the Trotters must continue to harness this team spirit if they are to beat the drop.
Meanwhile, Wigan continued to fight their desperate position with an unexpected but well-deserved victory at Anfield. As we know, Liverpool have been dire in recent weeks but Roberto Martinez deserves praise here.
The Wigan manager is constantly under pressure and if he can build some momentum, the Latics could scrape to survival once again.
Goals have been a massive problem for Wigan, Gary Caldwell’s three strikes this season place him just one behind their top scorers Franco Di Santo and Jordi Gomez. Why they haven’t signed a proven striker on loan, from any level, is hard to understand.
Ali Al-Habsi between the sticks has been monumental for Wigan. He prevented an onslaught of Liverpool chances from adding to Wigan’s woes and has been their best performer this campaign by a mile. In fact Al-Habsi has saved four penalities this campaign – two more than any other goalkeeper.
Wolves, on the other hand, are in freefall. You have to feel sorry for Terry Connor but he should never have been put in this desperate situation.
True, Wolves were sliding to relegation under Mick McCarthy but the players never wanted him to leave and the timing of the dismissal was ridiculous.
No-one wanted or took the job and now Wolves, who only have five points in 2012, have conceded 16 goals in five games under Connor.
Rooted to the bottom and four from safety, Wolves seem desperately destined to return to the Championship.
QPR remarkably seem determined to shoot themselves in the foot. Captain Joey Barton has picked the wrong time to start throwing in the towel, with some dreadful performances which have seen him dropped. To make matters worse, cameras appeared to catch him joking around after Sunderland grabbed a third on Saturday.
Djibril Cisse, meanwhile, appears to have more tattoos than brain cells after he decided to fly in two-footed and was duly sent off at the Stadium of Light.
He’s been brought in to stop the rot, grab goals and keep QPR up. Instead he’s been sent off twice, will miss a total of six games since signing in January and to make matters worse for Mark Hughes, will be out of the Arsenal and Manchester United games.