Premier League: Fulham, Sunderland, Cardiff, West Brom, Palace and Norwich fighting to stay up
With just eight points between the bottom six clubs, we analyse the fixtures, managers and prospects of the teams who are who are battling to preserve their Premier League status.
By Rob Parrish - Follow me on Twitter @skysportsrobp
Last Updated: 04/04/14 7:54am
P 32 Pts 24 Sky Bet survival odds 5/1
Fixtures: Five of Fulham's remaining six matches see them tackle teams in the bottom half of the table, with a trip to out-of-sorts Tottenham their only clash against a team in the upper reaches of the standings. Aston Villa and Stoke are their other away dates, while Norwich, Hull City and Crystal Palace are their opponents at Craven Cottage, with the Eagles arriving on the final day of the season.
In the dugout: With apologies to Oscar Wilde; to lose one manager may be regarded as a misfortune, to lose two looks like carelessness. Fulham began the season betrothed to Martin Jol, tried a brief flirtation with Rene Meulensteen and are now stepping out with Felix Magath. Jol and Meulensteen were each afforded 13 games, in which they secured 10 points. Magath has four points from six to date. He arguably needs 14 from the final six to have any hope of staying up.
Prospects: Bleak. Even with games against the teams around them in the final run-in, it's difficult to envisage anything other than a future in the Championship for the Cottagers. Their defence is the worst in the division and they are averaging less than one goal a game in attack, which means their goal difference is at least 10 in deficit of all their rivals.
P 30 Pts 25 Sky Bet survival odds 7/4
Fixtures: Tottenham (a), Everton (h), Man City (a), Chelsea (a). Ouch. Sunderland need to stay in contention during an immediate run of games which is challenging, to say the least. They then host Cardiff, West Brom and Swansea, on the final day, at the Stadium of Light, with a trip to Manchester United a further test during their final four fixtures.
In the dugout: Sunderland called time on the combustible Paolo Di Canio a mere five games into the season. But with just one point on the board, a squad on the brink of mutiny and a manager at odds with all around him, it was easy to see why. Gus Poyet had restored respect and belief, but a Capital One Cup final appearance will count for nothing if the Black Cats slip out of the top flight.
Prospects: Fading fast. Sunderland have taken just one point from their last six matches, rendering their hopes of making up ground via games in hand somewhat futile. With four of the top six to tackle next, and three of those clashes coming on the road, a dramatic recovery is needed. Victories over Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United this season - with the latter two in the Capital One Cup - demonstrate all is not yet lost.
P 32 Pts 26 Sky Bet survival odds 11/4
Fixtures: The six games which will ultimately define Cardiff's season come at home to Crystal Palace, Stoke and Chelsea, with away trips to Southampton, Sunderland and Newcastle. There are reasons for optimism in that list, but should the Bluebirds need to take something from their final-day showdown with Jose Mourinho's title hopefuls, then tension and drama are guaranteed.
In the dugout: Cardiff had 17 points from 18 games when Malky Mackay's fractured relationship with owner Vincent Tan finally ended. The fact that Ole Gunner Solskjaer has added just eight further points from in his 12 games in charges demonstrates Tan's folly. Solskjaer's CV shows great achievements as a player with Manchester United and success while managing Molde, but is likely to see relegation added.
Prospects: Approaching the point of no return. Two wins, two draws and eights defeats tells a sorry story of Solskjaer's reign. Their fixture list can be regarded as favourable and the spirit displayed in fighting back for a point at West Brom on Saturday must be commended. But their defence (61 goals conceded) and goal difference (-32) are only better than Fulham's.
P 31 Pts 29 Sky Bet survival odds 2/9
Fixtures: West Brom have the advantage of seven games to come, but still have Manchester City and Arsenal to tackle on the road and Tottenham heading to The Hawthorns. The trip to Norwich on Saturday could prove pivotal, while West Ham (h) and Sunderland (a) must also be tackled before the final-day showdown on home turf against Stoke City.
In the dugout: Yet another side in the relegation scrap who have found that change is not always the catalyst for improvement. After finishing eighth under Steve Clarke last season, the Baggies swung the axe in December after 15 points from their opening 16 games. Pepe Mel was appointed the following month, but has managed only one win from his 10 matches at the helm.
Prospects: In the balance. Much of last season's success was built around the goals of on-loan Romelu Lukaku, while the January exit of Shane Long was a further blow to the Baggies' scoring prospects. Their subsequent propensity for draws - a division high 14 from 31 games - is what sees them in trouble. They are likely to need to at least match their two wins in 2014 in the home stretch to avoid the drop.
P 31 Pts 31 Sky Bet survival odds 1/4
Fixtures: A mixture of relegation rivals and title hopefuls await Palace in their concluding seven matches. Saturday's hugely-significant trip to Cardiff is followed by a home date against Aston Villa and then further away tests to Everton and West Ham. High-flying Manchester City and Liverpool then visit Selhurst Park before the season concludes at Fulham.
In the dugout: Ian Holloway looked a broken man when he stepped aside in October with Palace having just three points from eight games. The eventual appointment of Tony Pulis proved shrewd, as the former Stoke boss has overseen the emergence of a vastly-improved defence, with the Eagles having now conceded the same number of goals as Liverpool.
Prospects: Edging towards positivity. The unexpected, but fully deserved, weekend win over Chelsea has provided a major lift to Palace's bid and Pulis will have identified the forthcoming games where he expects to pick up the necessary points. One concern is that while Palace's defence is excellent, they are woefully short of goals, having scored a division low 20 from 31 games.
P 32 Pts 32 Sky Bet survival odds 1/4
Fixtures: Norwich's final four games are Liverpool (h), Manchester United (a), Chelsea (a) and Arsenal (h). It is a closing run which means their next two fixtures - at home to West Brom on Saturday and then away to Fulham the following weekend - take on even greater pressure and significance. Six points would arguably see the Canaries safe, but two defeats could raise the stakes immeasurably.
In the dugout: The only team in the Premier League's bottom six to have stood by their manager this season. Chris Hughton has been under significant pressure at times, but has always retained his composure. Should they stay up, it will be interesting to see what tack the Canaries take over the summer after significant investment - by their standards - in the previous August transfer window.
Prospects: In their own hands. Norwich's six-point cushion over the bottom three means they can breathe a little easier than many of their rivals. However, they cannot allow complacency to creep into their game - particularly in their next two key contests - given their opponents in the final four matches. Their largely solid home form - they have suffered fewer defeats in front of their own fans than Tottenham and Manchester United, and have a better defensive record than Liverpool and Everton - should help the Canaries get over the line.