ith Liverpool having already wrapped up the Premier League title, attention switches to the other end of the table this afternoon as week 33 matches continue.
For West Ham and Aston Villa the pressure of remaining in the world’s most lucrative league is increasing with fewer and fewer matches to do so.
In fact they have just six games to save themselves and ensure that they not only stay in one of the most glamorous leagues around; but more importantly not lose out on revenue in the neighbourhood of roughly £100 million should they fail to stay up.
The Hammers set the ball rolling in the battle of the relegation haunted sides with a 4.15pm clash at Newcastle United while Aston Villa will then launch their own attempt at a Harry Houdini escape when they face champions Liverpool 15 minutes later.
On paper, West Ham has the easier task of the two.
Although three places above them, 13th-placed Newcastle is definitely not in the same league as the Reds which means the game should be more evenly balanced; but then David Moyes’ side will undoubtedly be buoyed by their stunning 3-2 midweek victory over Chelsea.
The former Manchester United and Everton manager was brought in last December for a second stint after the powers that be at the Hammers felt the club was going in the wrong direction under fired manager Manuel Pellegrini
Although they have struggled for much of his reign hovering in the relegation zone, Wednesday’s win over fourth-placed Chelsea shows what his club is capable off on their day – sadly such results have been very infrequent as just four wins in 15 games shows.
Although the win has pushed West Ham up to 16th on the log, they are still just three points above the relegation zone.
His Magpies opposite number Steve Bruce is also under pressure for totally different circumstances – he does not know if he will still be in charge next season!
The owner of the club, Mike Ashley wants to bail out and there is talk that the new owners are not too impressed with the former Manchester United skipper, and are considering bringing in their own man.
It is under this uncertainty that the former Aston Villa handler has been operating admirably and even guided the Magpies to a FA Cup quarter-final outing the club’s furthest since 2007.
However, Bruce’s side bounced back from the FA Cup drubbing by Manchester City with an impressive 4-1 away win at Bournemouth on Wednesday night and should thus be full of confidence hosting the Hammers – which should make for an interesting spectacle for football neutrals.
For Villa, which has spent the bulk of the campaign in relegation waters, the fact that Liverpool has wrapped up the title does not mean that they will be in a magnanimous mood.
Jorgen Klopp and his wards still have their eyes firmly set on breaking records, and after having failed to match the Arsenal Invincibles of 2004 will be aiming to surpass Manchester City’s record of 100 Premier League points set in their title winning campaign of 2018.
However, in order to do this, the Reds need to win 15 points from their last six matches and will definitely see Aston Villa as one of the sides they can use to add to their points’ tally, especially after their shocking 4-0 hammering on Thursday by former champions Manchester City.
Even if the German decides to field a weakened side, they should still be much too classy for the visitors.
In other games today Burnley host Sheffield United while Manchester City is at Southampton.