West ham are already down but the battle to avoid the remaining two Premier League relegation places couldn’t be tighter as five teams enter the season’s final weekend with a genuine chance of suffering the dreaded drop.
Precariously balanced in 17th spot are Birmingham who are 4/5 with Stan James to end up in the unusual position of playing both Championship and Europa League football next season. William Hill make the Blues 6/5 to stay up but ominously for Alex McLeish’s charges, they’re Totesport’s 5/1 outsiders to secure a crucial three points at Tottenham, who aren’t without an incentive as they battle for a place in Europe.
Spurs are 8/15 courtesy of Betfred to acquire the maximum haul they need to clinch fifth place and buoyed by their victory at Liverpool, Harry Redknapp’s men have to be fancied to capitalise on Birmingham’s inevitable nerves.
As the top flight’s lowest scorers, City’s lack of goals might prove vital, Paddy Power pricing the hosts at 17/10 to prevail ‘to nil’ and bet365 rating Tottenham at 7/1 to strike twice without reply. Meanwhile, having rediscovered his scoring touch at Anfield, Rafael van der Vaart is Spurs’ danger man and he’s 4/1 with Partybets to break the deadlock.
Nevertheless, defeat for Birmingham won’t necessarily result in relegation, as current bottom three incumbents Blackpool and Wigan both face tricky away matches. The Seasiders, 1/3 at Coral to go down, head to Manchester United and although the champions will field a weakened team with the Champions League final in mind, they remain odds-on at 8/13 with to see off Ian Holloway’s troops, Ladbrokes’ 9/2 underdogs.
Blackpool’s chances are certainly improved by the fact that Sir Alex Ferguson will rest players but even a United second string can penetrate the porous visiting defence and bet365’s 6/5 for a home win combined with a tally of more than 2.5 goals is therefore the eye-catching wager at Old Trafford, where Sportingbet quote Dimitar Berbatov at 4/1 to open the scoring.
Wigan are 2.5 (6/4) with Betdaq to emerge triumphant at Stoke but the gritty Potters are no pushovers at the Britannia Stadium, where they are overpriced at a chunky 15/8 (). Depending on other results meanwhile, the match between Wolves and Blackburn might prove irrelevant and in any case, a stalemate, rated by Totesport at 11/5, looks the most likely outcome at Molineux.
Elsewhere, Liverpool could miss out on a Europa League place by only managing a draw at Aston Villa, a result Coral quote at 23/10 and inseparable in five of their last eight meetings, Everton and Chelsea are 23/10 with Stan James to play out another stalemate, at Goodison Park.
Finally, bet365 make FA Cup winners Man City 5/6 to overcome faltering Bolton, Fulham and West Brom are overpriced at 14/5 () and 11/4 (Paddy Power) respectively as they tackle Arsenal and Newcastle while relegated West Ham are 2.0 (evens) with Betdaq to end a dismal campaign on a high, with victory against Sunderland.