Who will beat the drop? Our writers survey the relegation contenders and predict the final outcome

Sunderland manager Dick Advocaat.
Sunderland manager Dick Advocaat.
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WITH BURNLEY and QPR already boasting one foot in the Championship, there is a cat-fight underway between five clubs to avoid the final relegation spot.

But with just two points separating the quintet of Sunderland, Newcastle, Hull, Aston Villa and Leicester, the battle for survival promises to go to the wire.

Our team of writers have gazed into their crystal balls to predict the results for the run-in and calculate which of the relegation-threatened sides will suffer that fate.

Chris Young (Sunderland writer):

ASTON VILLA

(35pts, 35 games)

May 9 WEST HAM 3 points

May 16 Southampton 0 points

May 24 BURNLEY 3 points

Ends season on: 41 pts

NEWCASTLE UTD

(35pts, 35 games)

May 9 WEST BROM 1

May 16 Queens Park Rangers 0

May 24 WEST HAM 1

Ends season on: 37 pts

HULL CITY

(34pts, 35 games)

May 9 BURNLEY 3

May 16 Spurs 0

May 24 MANCHESTER UTD 0

Ends season on: 37 pts

SUNDERLAND

(33 pts, 34 games)

May 9 Everton 1

May 16 LEICESTER 3

May 20 Arsenal 0

May 24 Chelsea 0

Ends season on: 37 pts

LEICESTER CITY

(34pts, 35 games)

May 9 SOUTHAMPTON 1

May 16 Sunderland 0

May 24 QUEENS PK RGRS 3

Ends season on: 38 pts

Prediction: Newcastle to go down on goal difference.

It’s so tight down there that there has to be a high probability of relegation being decided by the thinnest of margins – goal difference.

I don’t expect Newcastle to extend their losing streak to 11 games by failing to pick up another point, although it wouldn’t be a major shock with the manner of their free-fall.

But neither do I think they’ll win one of their remaining three games.

Saturday’s opponents West Brom can now relax, QPR will be desperate to prolong the agony of top flight existence, while Sam Allardyce won’t be looking to do his former club any favours on the last day.

Sunderland need to pick up at least four points from the next two games realistically, but I think they’ll do that.

In the last two games, there has been a renewed commitment to remain in the Premier League.

Hull could well finish on 37 points too, but they crucially have a far better goal difference than the North East pair.

However, Steve Bruce’s men need to beat Burnley on Saturday. That’s the crucial game for them and considering their last two outings, anything less than three points could prove fatal.

Daniel Prince (Sports writer):

ASTON VILLA

(35 pts, 35 games)

May 9 WEST HAM 3

May 16 Southampton 1

May 24 BURNLEY 3

Ends season on: 42 pts

NEWCASTLE UNITED

(35 pts, 35 games)

May 9 WEST BROM 1

May 16 Queens Park Rangers 1

May 24 WEST HAM 0

Ends season on: 37 pts

LEICESTER CITY

(34 pts, 35 games)

May 9 SOUTHAMPTON 3

May 16 Sunderland 1

May 24 QUEENS PARK RANGERS 3

Ends season on: 41 pts

HULL CITY

(34 pts, 35 games)

May 9 BURNLEY 1

May 16 Tottenham 1

May 24 MANCHESTER UNITED 0

Ends season on: 36 pts

SUNDERLAND

(33 pts, 34 games)

May 9 Everton 1

May 16 LEICESTER 1

May 20 Arsenal 0

May 24 Chelsea 0

Ends season on: 35 pts

Prediction: Sunderland to go down by a point.

THE similarities to the 2008-09 campaign are striking.

Newcastle, Sunderland and Hull are in the thick of a relegation battle, with the Tyneside and Wearside outfits effectively employing caretaker managers and the Yorkshire club having a North East man in charge. Just like 2009.

Newcastle will finish against a team in claret and blue, Sunderland will close things with a game against Chelsea and Hull will host Manchester United on the final day. Just like 2009, when it was Newcastle who fell through the trapdoor.

But will there be a different outcome this time?

Leicester’s momentum – plus favourable fixture list – should see them pull clear of the dogfight before the final day, as should Aston Villa.

That will leave the northern trio to fight things out again, and it couldn’t be much tighter.

I don’t think any of them will win again, even though Hull and Newcastle have fixtures against the doomed Burnley and Queens Park Rangers respectively.

That wouldn’t bode well for Sunderland, who currently occupy the final relegation spot, and their home game against Leicester looks like a must-win.

Fail to get three points, and the status quo – with Sunderland in the bottom three by a point – could well remain.

Miles Starforth (Newcastle United writer):

ASTON VILLA

(35pts, 35 games)

May 9 WEST HAM 1

May 16 Southampton 0

May 24 BURNLEY 3

Ends season on: 39 pts

NEWCASTLE UTD

(35pts, 35 games)

May 9 WEST BROM 0

May 16 Queens Park Rangers 3

May 24 WEST HAM 1

Ends season on: 39 pts

HULL CITY

(34pts, 35 games)

May 9 BURNLEY 1

May 16 Spurs 0

May 24 MANCHESTER UTD 1

Ends season on: 36 pts

SUNDERLAND

(33 pts, 34 games)

May 9 Everton 1

May 16 LEICESTER 3

May 20 Arsenal 1

May 24 Chelsea 0

Ends season on: 38 pts

LEICESTER CITY

(34pts, 35 games)

May 9 SOUTHAMPTON 1

May 16 Sunderland 1

May 24 QUEENS PK RGRS 3

Ends season on: 39 pts

Prediction: Hull City to go down.

THE only way looks to be down for Newcastle United, and it could get worse before it gets better for John Carver’s beleaguered side.

It’s hard to see them taking anything from Saturday’s game against West Bromwich Albion.

Carver, without suspended defenders Daryl Janmaat and Mike Williamson, won’t have much height in his starting XI against a team which will be strong on set-pieces and adept at getting balls into the box.

It’s those deliveries, as seen against Leicester City on Saturday, that United simply can’t defend.

The club’s defence has been indefensible over the past eight games, and its goal difference is now the second-worst in the Premier League.

Yet the club could stay up – just.

A win over Queens Park Rangers, certainties to be relegated, at Loftus Road would just about see Newcastle over the line with a game to spare.

And United, feasibly, could scrape another point against West Ham United at St James’s Park on the final day of a troubled and traumatic season.

Sunderland, Aston Villa and Leicester also look capable of getting the points they all need to stay in the division.

And that would leave Hull City occupying the final relegation spot.

Richard Mennear (Hartlepool United writer)

ASTON VILLA

(35pts, 35 games)

May 9 WEST HAM 1

May 16 Southampton 0

May 24 BURNLEY 3

Ends season on: 39 pts

NEWCASTLE UTD

(35pts, 35 games)

May 9 WEST BROM 3

May 16 QPR 0

May 24 WEST HAM 0

Ends season on: 38 pts

HULL CITY

(34pts, 35 games)

May 9 BURNLEY 1

May 16 Spurs 1

May 24 MANCHESTER UTD 0

Ends season on: 36 pts

SUNDERLAND

(33 pts, 34 games)

May 9 Everton 1

May 16 LEICESTER 3

May 20 Arsenal 0

May 24 Chelsea 0

Ends season on: 37 pts

LEICESTER CITY

(34pts, 35 games)

May 9 SOUTHAMPTON 3

May 16 Sunderland 0

May 24 QPR 1

Ends season on: 38 pts

Prediction: Hull City to join QPR and Burley in the Championship.

AGAINST my better judgement, I’m actually predicting Newcastle United will win on Saturday.

And if other results over the next few weeks go the way I’ve predicted then that would be enough for them to seal their Premier League status for another season. Just.

West Brom’s win at Manchester United sees them all but safe.

Good news for Newcastle ahead of their trip to the North East this weekend and while it is bound to be another nail biting afternoon, I’m going for a narrow Newcastle win to end a miserable run of eight straight defeats.

If they were to lose though, then it looks set to be curtains for John Carver’s side.

Sunderland are enjoying a mini revival with four points from their last two outings, a point away at Everton and three in the massive home game with Leicester should prove enough.

The Foxes, meanwhile, have enjoyed an incredible recent run despite manager Neil Pearson’s best attempts to ruin the positivity off the pitch.

Five wins from six means they have the momentum.

Aston Villa could be distracted with the upcoming FA Cup final but I think they have enough quality to escape the drop.

One thing is for sure though, it is going to go down to the wire. Best buckle up for a bumpy ride.

Ross Gregory (Head of Sport)

ASTON VILLA

(35pts, 35 games)

May 9 WEST HAM 3

May 16 Southampton 0

May 24 BURNLEY 3

Ends season on: 41 pts

NEWCASTLE UTD

(35pts, 35 games)

May 9 WEST BROM 0

May 16 QPR 0

May 24 WEST HAM 0

Ends season on: 35 pts

HULL CITY

(34pts, 35 games)

May 9 BURNLEY 3

May 16 Spurs 1

May 24 MANCHESTER UTD 0

Ends season on: 38 pts

SUNDERLAND

(33 pts, 34 games)

May 9 Everton 0

May 16 LEICESTER 3

May 20 Arsenal 3

May 24 Chelsea 0

Ends season on: 39 pts

LEICESTER CITY

(34pts, 35 games)

May 9 SOUTHAMPTON 1

May 16 Sunderland 0

May 24 QPR 3

Ends season on: 38 pts

Prediction: Newcastle United to join QPR and Burnley in the Championship.

CAN you honestly see Newcastle United getting another point this season, never mind enough to get out of trouble?

I can’t.

The club is in utter chaos. The manager (or head coach, chief of cones, call him what you want – and many have lately) is so far out of his depth his best bet would be if the next game was against Atlantis FC.

John Carver’s admitted the players might not be listening to him, his tactics and team selection are bizarre and he’s been left with a squad woefully short for life in the Premier League.

The players who are left have a yellow streak that runs right through the changing rooms. Indiscipline, ineptitude, lack of quality...and along with a boss who slags off his players in public it is an explosive cocktail that I can only see ending one way.

There’ll be twists. Hull, Leicester and Sunderland have some tricky fixtures still remaining but each team has enough fight about them to win at least one of their remaining games.

Newcastle don’t and it’s all set up for Big Sam and Kevin Nolan to administer the last rites at St James’s Park on May 24.