Over the course of 23 days starting this Saturday, two of Newcastle United, Sunderland and Norwich will drop into the Championship.
After a mini league inside relegation trouble, where Newcastle, Sunderland and Norwich all played each other in recent weeks, there now stand 13 matches that will determine who survive and who stays down.
At this moment the table reads:
Norwich – Played 34 games 31 points (GD -25)
Sunderland – Played 33 games 30 points (GD -18)
Newcastle – Played 34 games 29 points (GD -26)
This is then how the schedule works out with all 13 matches in the order they will be played:
Saturday 23 April 3pm Liverpool v Newcastle
Sunday 24 April 2.05pm Sunderland v Arsenal
Saturday 30 April 3pm Newcastle v Crystal Palace & Stoke v Sunderland
Saturday 30 April 5.30pm Arsenal v Norwich
Saturday 7 May 12.45pm Norwich v Man Utd
Saturday 7 May 3pm Aston Villa v Newcastle & Sunderland v Chelsea
Wednesday 11 May 7.45pm Norwich v Watford & Sunderland v Everton
Sunday 15 May 3pm Everton v Norwich & Newcastle v Spurs & Watford v Sunderland
I have a feeling that Wednesday 11 May may prove a crucial night in this savage fight for survival, a night when Newcastle can’t even influence what happens as both Norwich and Sunderland play their final home games.
If I had to guess at how the table will look before that (11 May) night I would think it could be:
Newcastle 35 points (lose to Liverpool and beat Villa and Palace)
Sunderland 34 points (lose to Arsenal, beat Stoke, draw with Chelsea)
Norwich 32 points (lose to Arsenal and draw v Man Utd)
Having seen last night how hopeless Watford and especially Everton look, with nothing to play for now in the league, I sadly find it inevitable that one if not both of Sunderland and Norwich will win their final home game on May 11.
On my calculations that would mean Sunderland going two points ahead of Newcastle and/or Norwich level on points with NUFC.
Almost certainly leaving Newcastle to get something against Spurs to stand any chance of staying up.
Of course anything can happen but as the season draws to a close, you do get the feeling certain teams are already packing the buckets and spades for the holidays.
Obviously a surprise win for Newcastle at Anfield could be a game changer, as likewise failing to win against Palace (afer a loss at Liverpool) would almost certainly leave United with next to no chance of survival.
My first target and hope, is that we survive beyond that 11 May when Norwich and Sunderland look to have the easiest matches of their run in, and take the battle to the final day against Spurs.
Anything beyond this will be a very large bonus.