With just two games remaining until the English Premier League season draws to a close, Leicester City’s miraculous season has everyone’s attention on them.
Although, at the bottom end of the table, a war for survival is brewing.
The race to avoid the relegation zone also has been garnering attention with North-East rivals Sunderland and Newcastle United battling with Norwich City to avoid the drop-zone.
Beginning with Newcastle, the Magpies have had another dreadful season. After John Carver had his contract terminated at the end of the 2014/2015 season, Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley appointed Steve McClaren in June 2015.
Eight games in to the season, McClaren didn’t win his first match until October where his side defeated fellow relegation battlers Norwich City 6-2 at St. James Park. Fast forward all the way to March 2016, Steve McClaren has led his side to a measly six wins from 31 matches and was sacked with former Real Madrid manager Rafael Benitez being the immediate replacement until the end of the season.
Under the Spaniard, the Tyneside club have won just two games out of their last eight games although the performances have significantly improved with wins coming against Swansea and Crystal Palace and draws at home against Manchester City and away against Liverpool. Newcastle currently sit in 17th place, just one point above fierce rivals Sunderland who have a game in hand which goes well in their favour. Newcastle’s next fixtures come against already-relegated Aston Villa and 2nd placed Tottenham and they’ll be hoping to ensure that at least one victory is enough to keep them away from the drop zone.
On to Newcastle’s neighbours from Wearside, Sunderland who also find themselves in this season’s relegation battle. Starting off the season in poor fashion, the Black Cats were riding high after their miraculous escape from relegation last season with Dick Advocaat choosing to stay on for another season after putting retirement on hold.
Win-less in their first eight matches, Advocate was sacked after a 2-2 draw with Aston Villa and replaced by Sam Allardyce in October 2015. Allardyce would then go on to claim his first victory against fellow relegation battlers and fierce rivals Newcastle United in a 3-0 win at the Stadium of Light.
By May 2016, Sunderland sit in 19th place after a run of inconsistent and poor performances from Sam Allardyce. In their last 10 matches, Sam Allardyce’s men have only won two matches and claimed five draws leaving them in a desperate fight for survival for the fourth season in a row. Sunderland’s next fixtures include Chelsea and Everton at home before travelling to away Watford on the final day of the season.
The third and final team in the race for survival, Norwich have endured a tough season the Premier League after being promoted in the play-off final last season. Largely due to a lack of Premier League quality in their side, the Canaries often saw themselves unable to finish off matches when they were in their favour and this has been a key factor in why they now face a fight for survival.
Alex Neill’s men began the season with a 3-1 loss to Crystal Palace at Carrow Road before going on to win just two games in the first 10 matches. After winning a total of five games in 2015, 2016 started off in horrible fashion for the Canaries who went on a 10 game defeated streak before winning their second match in 2016 away at West Brom.
With just two games left until the end of the season, Norwich will use their game in hand as an advantage to help their cause for survival. The Canaries face Manchester United and Watford at home before going away to Everton on the final day of the season.