Latics facing drop - poll
Readers and bookies in agreement as Wigan edge closer to relegation
By Kristian Walsh. Last Updated: 01/04/11 4:23pm
Pressure mounting: Roberto Martinez
Nearly half of skysports.com readers believe Wigan Athletic are most likely to be relegated from this season's Premier League, but the remainder appear split.
The uncertainty surrounding this season's relegation battle has been replicated by readers, with only two clubs - Wigan and Wolverhampton Wanderers - polling more than 10 per cent of the vote.
Forty-nine per cent of the 15,000 readers who took part in the poll believe bottom-of-the-table Wigan will go down, making them clear favourites; but even Wolves, with 11 per cent, are no guarantee to go down with our readers.
Fierce rivals West Brom are third with seven per cent, while four more teams polled between six and seven per cent, reflecting how tight this year's relegation battle is.
Blackburn, Blackpool, West Ham and Birmingham make up that contingent, while Aston Villa and Newcastle garnered four and three per cent of the vote respectively.
Bookmaker Sky Bet appear to mirror the result of the poll with Wigan strong odds-on favourites for the drop. Roberto Martinez's side are only two points from safety but face trips to Chelsea, Sunderland and Aston Villa, making their odds of 1/3 seem fair.
Readers have more faith in Blackpool (11/10) than the online bookmaker with only six per cent of readers backing Holloway's men for the drop; with the return of Matt Gilks in goal and home games against Wigan, Newcastle, Stoke and Bolton, the Tangerines are capable of peeling away from the relegation mire.
Readers seem less confident on the chances of Wolves and West Brom (7/4), while Blackburn's woes are not considered too troubling by readers.
Although Rovers currently sit fourth in the poll, the online betting firm make them 6/4. This low price can be attributed to the growing worries surrounding Steve Kean's job, while away matches to relegation rivals West Ham (7/4) and Wolves could prove their downfall.
The wild cards in this fight for survival are the Midlands pair of Birmingham (13/8) and Aston Villa (7/1). The poll suggests both are capable of staying in the Premier League despite both facing crunch games against those around them.
Birmingham will play Blackburn, Newcastle, Wolves and Fulham, while Gerard Houllier's side encounter Newcastle, West Ham, Stoke, West Brom and Wigan.
Both their fates may rest upon those games, particularly with Birmingham yet to play Chelsea, Liverpool or Spurs away, while Aston Villa face Arsenal and Liverpool in their final two fixtures, meaning wins against those around them will be paramount to their survival.