Martin ONeill
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Sunderland on a slippery slope towards Premier League relegation

| 25.03.2013

Eight games of the Premier League season remain, meaning at least in theory that even though things may seem hopeless for Reading and QPR right now there are still a possible 24 (27 if you’re Wigan) points remain waiting to be plucked from the vine.

It’s top flight trolley dash time and certain supermarket sweepers are in better positions than others to stock up ahead of the summer.

Reading couldn’t have parted company Brian McDermott at a more imprudent time, but their shocking away form had earmarked them for the drop from whilst the autumn leaves still littered the pavements.

They’ve gained just five away points all season, losing nine of their last 10 road league games and with four away games, plus home games with Liverpool and Man City left it’s difficult to see where the wins might come from.

The table fails to truly represent QPR’s trajectory with Harry Redknapp’s Hoops losing three of last nine away, three wins. Lost one in last six at home.

Wigan took 21 from final 27 points on offer last term in one of the most devil-may-care acts of escapology in living memory, but the looming spectre of an FA Cup could play havoc with the bomb disposal expert levels of focus required to put together that kind of run again.

Aston Villa have been winning their must win games of late, gaining maximum points against West Ham, Reading and most recently QPR and with only their visit to Old Trafford looking a definitively unwinnable game, their run looks survival friendly.

Southampton have arguably the easiest run in of those in the eye of the relegation storm, with mercurial Chelsea and choke-prone Tottenham by some way their toughest assignments. Having seen off Liverpool and Man City at St Mary’s their home strength is unquestionable and The Saints have taken points from seven of their last 10 away games.

Sunderland may be occupy the highest bunk in the bottom six cabin, but aside from doomed Reading their recent form is the worst of the sextet. No win in last six is worrying enough, but their poor form is far from a daydream with just 2 victories notched in their 12 league games this year.