Aston Villa's games against Sunderland, Swansea City, Queens Park Rangers, Everton and Burnley will be vital if they want to remain a top-flight club.
A late Christian Benteke penalty did so much more than ensure three points for Aston Villa against West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday evening. It could be the confidence boost Tim Sherwood’s side needs to turn their season around before it is too late.
Villa’s win saw them climb out of the bottom three, but there is still a huge amount of work to be done.
Here we take a look at the five upcoming matches that could make or break Villa’s season:
Sunderland away – Saturday March 14
Villa may still have a FA Cup campaign to consider but their main focus must be Premier League survival, and just a week after their sixth-round tie against the Baggies is this huge encounter with the side directly above them in the table.
If Villa can defeat Sunderland they could climb above them and pull the Black Cats deeper into a relegation scrap of their own.
Swansea City at home – Saturday March 21
Whatever Villa do away from home in the remainder of the season, they must ensure they win the majority of their home matches, starting with this game against Swansea.
It will not be easy but it precedes trips to Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, meaning three points against the Swans is a must.
Queens Park Rangers at home – Monday April 20
Another home game, against another side battling to stay clear of the drop-zone; this is a relegation six-pointer if ever there was one.
Sherwood will know that a win would be a huge result but a defeat and they could be waving goodbye to their long stay in the top flight.
Everton at home – Saturday May 2
Everton have struggled this season and Villa have the players to cause Roberto Martinez’s men problems.
If previous matches go the way of Villa a win here would be another huge step in the right direction. In fact if they have overcome Sunderland and QPR a point could be enough.
Burnley at home – Sunday May 24
The last game of the season for both clubs and a huge one at that, this could decide everything.
Sean Dyche’s men have proved themselves to be a fine team who can cause anyone problems and there is every chance it could be a winner-takes-all scenario.