12th Man – Relegation battle – who will go down?

jake-buxton-v-wolves

Latics players celebrate at Wolves. Photograph courtesy of Wigan Athletic.

Latics are now entering a critical phase in the season and have 15 games to secure their Championship status. Tuesday night’s last gasp 1-0 victory at Wolves ensured that they reduced the gap on the teams above them and they know that they must put a strong sequence of results together to survive.

But what are the prospects for the other teams around them? Up to 12 teams could realistically be involved in the relegation shake-up.

Even 13th placed Ipswich Town and 14th placed Birmingham City both currently on 40 points are not yet safe from relegation. Birmingham in particular are on a dreadful run having only won one in their last 13 games since Gianfranco Zola took over from Gary Rowett.

In 15th and 16th are Brentford and Aston Villa who have both surprisingly dropped down the table. The Bees looked like play-off contenders earlier in the season but have struggled recently, however both teams should have enough quality to stay up.

17th placed Nottingham Forest have been inconsistent performers and are still in some turmoil both on and off the pitch. Kuwaiti owner Fawaz Al Hasawi has been trying to sell the club for some time and recently offered Nigel Clough the manager’s role after the sacking of Philippe Montanier but Clough decided to stay at Burton.

Gary Brazil and Jack Lester have taken temporary charge of first team affairs until the end of the season and they should just about survive.

18th placed Wolves have perhaps been distracted by their FA Cup run and have now lost their last three league games and could easily be dragged into the relegation zone if results do not improve rapidly.

Ian Holloway returned to currently 19th placed Queens Park Rangers as manager in November but results have not improved enough to pull Rangers away from the bottom end of the table and it looks like a nervy end to the season for them.

20th placed Bristol City have been on a dreadful run and have only won 2 of their last 17 matches. They lost top scorer Tammy Abraham to a thigh injury on Tuesday night at Leeds and they could be without him at a vital time. I expect them to be right on the cusp of relegation.

21st placed Burton Albion received a boost when manager Nigel Clough turned down Nottingham Forest but I don’t think their squad will be strong enough to stay up.

22nd placed Latics are now in a good run of form having won three and drawn one of their last six games.

They have a tough local derby against Preston on Saturday and then have some winnable fixtures against the teams around them in the table, QPR (A), Nottingham Forest (H), Blackburn Rovers (A), Bristol City (H) and Aston Villa (H). If they can get a good return from these games I expect them to stay up.

23rd placed Blackburn have staggered from one crisis to another over recent years and all the indications are that they will drop down to League One this time around.

24th placed Rotherham United already look doomed with only 17 points taken from their 32 games.

With so many teams involved in the relegation battle it’s difficult to predict the final outcome, but I’m going to stick my neck out and say that Latics will now finish above Rotherham, Blackburn, Burton and Bristol City.

This article was first published in the 12th Man column for the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 17th February 2017.

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About ianhaspinall

Communications specialist, Wigan Athletic fan & blogger, interested in music, arts & culture.
This entry was posted in Championship, Wigan Athletic and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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