Relegation battle this Sunday for English Premier League

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Five teams will be fighting for survival on Sunday as the English Premier League reaches its climax with what is poised to be one of the most fraught relegation battles in years.

With Manchester United wrapping up a record 19th title last week, the final day of the 2010/2011 season will be dominated by events at the foot of the table, where only one point separates five teams.

West Ham were the first side to be relegated after they slumped to a dramatic defeat at Wigan last weekend.

The Hammers’ exit has left Blackburn, Wolves, Birmingham, Blackpool and Wigan facing a nerve-jangling finale.

For Wolves and Blackburn, who face each other at Molineux, the equation is simple: victory will guarantee their Premier League status for another season.

The two clubs sit just above the relegation zone with 40 points, followed by Birmingham, Blackpool and Wigan, who all have 39 points.

Wolves had looked doomed for much of the year but have climbed out of the drop zone after a draw with Birmingham that was followed by back-to-back wins over West Bromwich Albion and Sunderland.

Wolves manager Mick McCarthy has urged his team to go out and finish the job in style by claiming a third consecutive victory at Blackburn’s expense.

“It is going to be settled on the last day,” McCarthy said. “We can’t do any more than try to win our game.”

Blackburn boss Steve Kean’s preparations could scarcely have been worse.

The Rovers manager was charged with drunken driving following his team’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United last week, and was subsquently summoned to India for an unscheduled meeting with the club’s owners.

British press reports meanwhile have suggested that Kean, who took over as manager following the controversial dismissal of Sam Allardyce in December, may be sacked even if Rovers manage to stay up.

The fate of Birmingham, Blackpool and Wigan may hinge on results elsewhere.

Blackpool face the toughest task, travelling to Old Trafford to face Manchester United knowing they will need to get a result to have any chance of staying up.

Although the build-up has been dominated by talk of United fielding a weakened team ahead of next week’s Champions League final against Barcelona, Seasiders manager Ian Holloway has backed his team to defy the odds.

The outspoken Blackpool manager believes the league would rather see the back of him.

“They (the Premier League) will be relieved if we lose and get relegated,” he said.

Birmingham manager Alex McLeish has called on his team to be fearless when they travel to White Hart Lane for a daunting tie with Tottenham, who are chasing fifth place and a Europa League berth.

McLeish added he has no fears that Blackpool could be at an advantage in their game at Old Trafford.

“Manchester United will play a strong team whatever happens as some players didn’t play last week and will need a game before the Champions League final,” he said.

“I won’t worry about Manchester United at all, we’ve got to worry about ourselves and try and get over the line. We have to get at least a point and see what happens.”

Fixtures Sunday (all 1600 GMT):

Aston Villa v Liverpool, Bolton v Man City, Everton v Chelsea, Fulham v Arsenal, Man Utd v Blackpool, Newcastle v West Brom, Stoke v Wigan, Tottenham v Birmingham, West Ham v Sunderland, Wolverhampton v Blackburn.

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