Assessing the run-in of Sunderland, Norwich and Newcastle: Who will survive?

Sunderland, Norwich City and Newcastle United are separated by just one point.

After the weekend's results, the three sides still scrapping to avoid relegation to the Championship next season are separated by just the one point - meaning it is all to play for as two of Sunderland, Norwich City and Newcastle United are destined to join Aston Villa in the second tier next season.

Newcastle may have played a game more, Sunderland have just moved out of the relegation zone on goal difference while Norwich have had to sit tight and see what the others around them do.

So, how are they going to get on between now and the end of the season? We assess their run-in here:


Remaining games: Stoke City (A), Chelsea (H), Everton (H), Watford (A)

With three clean sheets in their last four games, it seems that one part of Sunderland's side has been well and truly sorted - with the other game seeing them lose 2-0 to league leaders Leicester City - and there is no shame in that. 

Sunderland have lost just one of their last seven - although they have only won one in that run, but it is enough to get their heads just above water for now.

Their run-in is an interesting one, and one where they would fancy their chances in every game. Stoke City are a side that have conceded four goals in each of their last three games against Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester City - they are on a pretty dire run.

Sam Allardyce's side will have to be thinking of a win there, before they host Chelsea - a side that have been hit and miss of late. Sometimes they show the form that won them the title last season, on other occasions they show the form that led to Jose Mourinho being sacked in December.

Everton are in dire form and show no signs of snapping out of it, while Watford - like Everton - are beaten FA Cup semi-finalists. They are safe and have nothing to play for while questions over the manager's future at Vicarage Road will not be doing the Hornets any favours. These are four very winnable games for the Black Cats.

Norwich City

Remaining games: Arsenal (A), Manchester United (H), Watford (H), Everton (A)

Norwich have had a couple of weeks to stew on their 3-0 defeat to Sunderland, and probably face the toughest run-in of all three sides. Games against Arsenal and Manchester United look potentially daunting and their safety could hinge on what they do in the final two games. They face an Arsenal side in pretty indifferent form, and while United have been unspectacular, they have won six out of their last eight league games and reached the FA Cup final, and can still finish in the top four. It would be foolish to think they have nothing to play for.

They will be odds on to lose both of those games come kick off but if the Canaries can find the solidity that saw them pick up a draw against Manchester City not so long ago then they have a chance. It feels as though those two games will inform whether they have momentum going into their final two games which appear the more winnable fixtures.

Newcastle United

Remaining games: Crystal Palace (H), Aston Villa (A), Tottenham Hotspur (H) 

The question is, is it too little too late for Newcastle? Rafa Benitez's side have picked up five points in their last three games with a win over Swansea City and impressive draws against Manchester City and Liverpool - as they came from behind in both games.

Crystal Palace will feel they are safe but no one should underestimate Alan Pardew's desire to get one over his old club. Although he may have one eye on the FA Cup final with the Eagles practically safe they will see the trip to St James' Park as an opportunity to make absolutely sure of their Premier League status. For Newcastle it will be one of the winnable games, and given that Aston Villa are doomed, it would be a big surprise if they did not manage to win that one.

The final day of the season could be interesting. Some say it will depend on whether Tottenham still have a Premier League title to fight for but it is hard to think that Mauricio Pochettino's side will not turn up and perform well, although Benitez has a track record of getting a big result when he needs it. One feels that at least seven points from the final games for Newcastle is the minimum requirement, but it still might not be enough.

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