Saturday spotlight: Why Sunderland will be safe from relegation this season? The run-in

The Advertiser Series: STEERING SUNDERLAND TO SAFETY: Gus Poyet STEERING SUNDERLAND TO SAFETY: Gus Poyet

It is another crucial day in the fixture calendar for Sunderland today when Crystal Palace arrive on Wearside. Chief football writer Paul Fraser has gone through the fixtures of the relegation contenders to see if Championship football will be at the Stadium of Light next season

JUST six points separate the third and final relegation place with tenth spot in the Premier League before this weekend’s games, so the final eight weeks of the season are sure to be filled with twists and turns.

This weekend alone will see three matches where teams in the bottom half of the top-flight will come up against one another, in meetings which are likely to have a major bearing on the end of season standings.

The biggest of those will take place at the Stadium of Light, where Sunderland will attempt to forget about their FA Cup quarter-final misery by defeating Crystal Palace.

A victory for Gustavo Poyet's men would not only ease the frustrations from being comprehensively beaten by Hull City at the KC Stadium, it would give Sunderland's fight to avoid relegation a significant boost.

Three points could see the Black Cats climb out of the bottom three. Such an outcome would also see them climb level on points with Palace, who currently sit 16th in the standings.

While Sunderland still have 12 matches remaining, most of the teams involved in the fight to beat the drop have just ten games left to safeguard their Premier League future. That is why today's meeting with Sunderland and Palace looks to hold greater significance.

Yet the likelihood is that the outcome of today's meeting might not be quite as crucial as it feels right now. If Palace, who look far stronger and capable of beating many teams under Tony Pulis, can emerge with a point today then that could actually prove to be a good point for both clubs.

By working out the results for all of the teams from tenth place down, The Northern Echo has predicted that Sunderland should be safe, but needing to overcome fellow strugglers Cardiff, West Brom and Swansea City in the final few weeks of the season would seem likely.

But Sunderland will not be able to just climb to safety quickly. There are sure to be a few more nerves and concerns to suffer in the next few weeks on Wearside, knowing that Championship football is still a strong possibility.

It is widely suggested that the magical 40-point mark is the requirement for top-flight survival, but such a total does not look like it will be necessary this time around.

With so many teams struggling to find form and taking points off one another, the remaining fixtures of all the clubs involved suggests that West Bromwich Albion, Cardiff City and Fulham have the biggest trouble to deal with.

All three have encountered ongoing problems this season and not even changes in management have helped. Even Sunderland, who have remained in the mix, have had a boost from Poyet's arrival, while the Pulis-effect has given everyone at Selhurst Park genuine belief that they could stay up.

But if the anxiety levels and frustrations build around the Stadium of Light this afternoon, it could be worth remembering there is still time for Sunderland to recover.

Collecting three points sooner rather than later would clearly be the ideal solution all around, but Sunderland should still be playing Premier League football next season – provided a defeat doesn’t seriously dent their confidence.

The Advertiser Series:

Here are the remaining fixtures for the bottom half of the Premier League with their current points; win, lose or draw prediction and their end of season points.

West Ham United
Current: 31pts | End of Season: 43pts

  • Stoke City (a) D
  • Manchester United (h) L
  • Hull City (h) W
  • Sunderland (a) D
  • Liverpool (h) L
  • Arsenal (a) L
  • Crystal Palace (h) W
  • West Brom (a) W
  • Tottenham (h) D
  • Manchester City (a) L

Aston Villa
Current: 31pts | End of Season: 41pts 

  • Chelsea (h) L
  • Stoke City (h) W
  • Manchester United (a) L
  • Fulham (h) W
  • Crystal Palace (a) L
  • Southampton (h) D
  • Swansea City (a) L
  • Manchester City (a) L
  • Hull City (h) W
  • Tottenham (a) L

Stoke City
Current: 31pts | End of Season: 44pts

  • West Ham (h) D
  • Aston Villa (a) L
  • Hull City (h) W
  • Chelsea (a) L
  • Newcastle (h) W
  • Cardiff City (a) D
  • Tottenham (h) D
  • Fulham (h) W
  • West Brom (a) D

Hull City
Current: 30pts | End of Season: 37pts

  • Manchester City (h) L
  • West Brom (h) W
  • West Ham (a) L
  • Stoke City (a) L
  • Swansea (h) W
  • Manchester United (a) L
  • Arsenal (h) L
  • Fulham (a) L
  • Aston Villa (a) L
  • Everton (h) D

Swansea City
Current: 29pts | End of Season 37pts

  • West Brom (h) W
  • Everton (a) L
  • Arsenal (a) L
  • Norwich (h) D
  • Hull (a) L
  • Chelsea (h) L
  • Newcastle United (a) L
  • Aston Villa (h) W
  • Southampton (h) D
  • Sunderland (a) L

Norwich City
Current: 29pts | End of Season: 37pts

  • Southampton (a) L
  • Sunderland (h) W
  • Swansea City (a) D
  • West Brom (h) W
  • Fulham (a) D
  • Liverpool (h) L
  • Manchester United (a) L
  • Chelsea (a) L
  • Arsenal (h) L

Crystal Palace
Current: 27pts | End of Season: 34pts

  • Sunderland (a) D
  • Newcastle (a) L
  • Chelsea (h) L
  • Cardiff City (a) L
  • Aston Villa (h) W
  • West Ham (a) L
  • Manchester City (h) L
  • Everton (a) L
  • Liverpool (h) L
  • Fulham (a) W

West Bromwich Albion
Current: 25pts | End of Season: 29pts

  • Swansea (a) L
  • Hull City (a) L
  • Cardiff (h) W
  • Norwich City (a) L
  • Tottenham (h) L
  • Manchester City (a) L
  • West Ham (h) L
  • Arsenal (a) L
  • Sunderland (a) L
  • Stoke City (h) D

Cardiff City
Current: 25pts | End of Season: 29pts

  • Everton (a) L
  • Liverpool (h) L
  • West Brom (a) L
  • Crystal Palace (h) W
  • Southampton (a) L
  • Stoke City (h) D
  • Sunderland (a) L
  • Newcastle (a) L
  • Chelsea (h) L

Sunderland
Current: 24pts | End of Season: 36pts

  • Crystal Palace (h) D
  • Norwich City (a) L
  • Liverpool (a) L
  • West Ham (h) D
  • Tottenham (a) L
  • Everton (h) D
  • Chelsea (a) L
  • Cardiff (h) W
  • Manchester City (a) L
  • West Brom (h) W
  • Manchester United (a) L
  • Swansea City (h) W

Fulham
Current: 21pts | End of Season: 28pts

  • Newcastle (h) W
  • Manchester City (a) L
  • Everton (h) L
  • Aston Villa (a) L
  • Norwich City (h) D
  • Tottenham (a) L
  • Hull City (h) W
  • Stoke City (a) L
  • Crystal Palace (h) L

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