It gives an indication of how tight things are at the bottom that although Norwich City go into this round of matches in 14th place and six points clear of the drop zone, it would not be wholly surprising if they ended up 18th and in real trouble by Tuesday night.
Traditionally 40 points has been seen as the mark to aim for to avoid relegation, with even considerably lower totals being enough to stay up in previous years. However with many of the teams at the bottom in good form, 40 points is suddenly looking far from secure.
Norwich have 38 points and play Aston Villa, who have 37, this weekend. Sunderland and Newcastle both have 37 as well and play West Ham and Stoke respectively, whilst Wigan, currently on 32, play West Brom and Swansea over the next few days. Realistically at least two more sides will push past the 40 point mark, but that could easily be three, and it would not be completely unexpected if Wigan picked up two wins against mid-table opposition.
Southampton, currently on 39 points, travel to Tottenham Hotspur, and could find themselves back in a dogfight they had seemingly climbed out of several weeks ago.
The key is clearly Wigan, who have the most to do in order to catch up the rest of the league. They have an FA Cup final to consider as well, and after that game travel to Arsenal in a game where they will not expect to pick up much. They have to make up ground on the others this week, with anything but two wins likely to leave them too much to do.
This weekend is being billed as a decisive set of fixtures in the relegation battle, and there will likely be several teams celebrating going past the 40 point mark, but if Wigan do win both of their matches, nothing will have been settled.
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