Premier League 2012, Week 28 Preview And Fixtures: A Big Weekend In The Relegation Fight

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 04: Djibril Cisse of Queens Park Rangers reacts after he is shown a red card by referee Mark Clattenburg to team mate Bobby Zamora during the Barclays Premier League match between Queens Park Rangers and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Loftus Road on February 4, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

At the other end of the table, United and City will have to slip up in a big way for there to be a significant change in the title race, and the weekend will be topped off with Arsenal and Newcastle doing battle at the Emirates.

One of the great things about the promotion/relegation system is that it makes us pay attention to games involving Wolves, Wigan and Blackburn!

Hey, waitaminute...

Bolton Wanderers vs. Queens Park Rangers

Saturday 3/10; 12:45 GMT/7:45 AM ET

Well lookie here, we've got ourselves a bona fide relegation battle six-pointer! Yee-haw!

This is the first of two games that could have pretty major implications on the way the relegation battle plays out the rest of the way; Bolton and QPR seem the most likely of the five teams currently fighting for their lives to avoid the drop, but they haven't given themselves much room for error. A QPR win would give them a little bit of breathing room while Owen Coyle's Bolton side really need to take all three points in games such as this one.

Pick: Bolton, 2-1

Aston Villa vs. Fulham

Saturday 3/10; 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

After a bit of a rough start, Fulham has really come together under Martin Jol. Clint Dempsey is in the form of his life and Jol is perfectly happy to let players like Deuce and Bryan Ruiz express themselves freely, bolstered by a solid supporting cast. The result is team that's fun to watch and in the hunt for the Europa League places.

After a bit of a rough start, Aston Villa has gotten even worse under Alex McLeish as the season has progressed. Darren Bent is out for the season, and McLeish seems intent on keeping the remaining players in his squad capable of attacking shackled to the center line (or bench, as the case may be.) The result is one of the most boring sides in the Premier League, one that would be stuck firmly in the middle of the relegation battle were it not for the existence of some truly awful sides below them.

Pick: Fulham, 2-0

Chelsea vs. Stoke City

Saturday 3/10; 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

Game two of the Roberto di Matteo era involves Stoke, so it will probably be boring.

Pick: Chelsea, 2-0

Sunderland vs. Liverpool

Saturday 3/10; 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

A tremendous run of form for Sunderland came to a screeching halt two weeks ago against West Brom, and a late equalizer from Shola Ameobi snatched away what would have surely been one of the luckiest wins in the history of the Tyne-Wear derby. If Martin O'Neill's side is hoping to work their way back into the race for Europe, they'll need to take all three points from the Stadium of Light.

Pick: Draw, 1-1

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Blackburn Rovers

Saturday 3/10; 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

This is the second of the two fixtures which will have major implications on the relegation battle.

It will also be terrible.

Pick: Draw, 2-2

Everton vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Saturday 3/10; 17:30 GMT/12:30 PM ET

Things have gone a bit off-the-rails for Spurs as of late; that the change in fortunes came around the same time as Fabio Capello left the England job is almost certainly a coincidence, but the timing couldn't have helped matters. Arsenal and Chelsea are both still within striking distance, and for Spurs to fall out of the top four would be a pretty serious disappointment to say the least.

Pick: Spurs, 2-1

Manchester United vs. West Bromwich Albion

Sunday 3/11; 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

United will likely need to win this game to keep pace with City, and they probably will since West Brom isn't that good. They'll just do so in the most unimpressive fashion imaginable, because that kind of seems to be their thing.

Pick: United, 2-1

Swansea City vs. Manchester City

Sunday 3/11; 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

UPSET ALERT!

Oh, that says City, not United. Never mind.

Pick: City, 2-1

Norwich City vs. Wigan Athletic

Sunday 3/11; 17:00 GMT/12:00 PM ET

Great game to give top billing, guys. I'm sure the ratings will be through the roof.

Pick: Norwich, 2-0

Arsenal vs. Newcastle United

Monday 3/12; 21:00 GMT/4:00 PM ET

Arsenal has been such a weird rollercoaster this season that it somehow completely makes sense that getting bounced from the Champions League might actually have them feeling pretty good about themselves.

Pick: Arsenal, 3-1

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