Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Is West Ham Heading To A Nailbiting Finish?

Relegation battles can be such nail-biters that hardly any fan would like to go through. Here are some of the more dramatic Premier League relegation battles in recent history.

West Bromwich Albion, 2005
West Brom claim the top spot in this list as the only club to be bottom of the Premier league at Christmas and survive.

With their fate out of their hands on final day, Bryan Robson’s men beat Portsmouth 2-0 and waited for the good news from Norwich City and Southampton as their relegation rivals duly lost. Charlton drew with Palace, handing West Brom a miraculous escape.

Their final points tally of 34 is the lowest with which a team has survived relegation since the Premier League was reduced to 20 teams in 1995.

West Ham, 2007
After West Ham sacked Alan Pardew in December, Alan Curbishley led a revival as the club won seven of their last nine games, including 1-0 victories away to Arsenal and Manchester United

The transfer saga surrounding Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez came to a head in the run-in, when West Ham were fined £5.5m by the Premier league, but avoided a points deduction.

Tevez scored the winner at Old Trafford on the last day of the season, sending Sheffield United into the Championship and reigniting the controversy over his transfer.

Oldham Athletic, 1993
In possibly the greatest final day ever, Oldham beat Southampton 4-3, despite a Matthew Le Tissier hat-trick, to complete an escape that saw them close an eight point gap in the last seven days of the season.

Everton, 1994
In a five-way final day relegation dogfight, the permutations were baffling and the football even more so as Everton took on sixth place Wimbledon at Goodison Park.

After gifting Wimbledon a two-goal lead, Mike Walker’s side pulled the game back to 2-2 through goals from Graham Stuart and a 30 yard screamer from Barry Horne, his only goal of the season. With nine minutes to go, Stuart struck again with a goal that would later form part of match fixing allegations against goalkeeper Hans Segers (Segers was later cleared). Everton held on and ended one of the most emotional relegation great escapes.

Fulham, 2008
Roy Hodgson’s side were written off, but they went on to amass a third of their total points tally for that season in their final five games to finish level on 36 points with Reading and survive on goal difference.

Their amazing revival included a pivotal encounter at Manchester City. Two goals down and relegated at half time, Fulham completed a memorable comeback to win 3-2 with an injury time strike by Diomansy Kamara.

They went on to beat Portsmouth 1-0 on the final day, ensuring Reading’s 4-0 demolition of Derby would still not be enough.

Everton, 1998
Back in trouble again and needing a result from their last match against Coventry, who for once weren’t in a battle of their own, Everton had to better Bolton’s result in order to avoid the drop.

Howard Kendall’s side got off to a good start, Gareth Farrelly firing home from 25 yards, but a late Dion Dublin equaliser meant Everton had to rely on two late Chelsea goals against Bolton to survive on goal difference.

Portsmouth, 2006
They looked down and out under Perrin before Harry worked his Houdini magic. Portsmouth took 20 points from their last nine matches. A come-from-behind win against Wigan secured safety for Pompey.Two years on, Harry Redknapp and Portsmouth won the FA Cup, the script for this club cannot be better written.

West Ham's last four season-ending fixtures are against Liverpool (away), Wigan (home), Fulham (away) and Manchester City (home). Hopefully, we'd be safe by beating Wigan and Fulham.

A nailbiting finish to a horrible underachieving season? Surely not!

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