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Relegation battles continue to heat up

Preview of Saturday's action from the Baclays Premier League.
Preview of Saturday's action from the Baclays Premier League.
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Manesh Upadhyaya

Manesh Upadhyaya is an editor and contributing writer to Follow him on Twitter.



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Roberto Martinez must be one of the only managers whose reputation keeps on growing every season even though his side consistently finishes near the bottom of the table. Why? Martinez has a group of players who are used to being in relegation dogfights – their calm nerves are a likely result of his management.

This was on show in Saturday's 3-0 defeat of Reading at the Madejski Stadium. Arouna Kone has been in fine form of late and took his Barclays Premier League goal tally to eight by scoring a brace in two minutes. The win lifted Wigan out of the drop zone, but only by virtue of goal difference.

This weekend's match against Liverpool will be a tough test for Martinez's men as the Anfield side will be hurting after its dramatic exit from the UEFA Europa League. The big question is if Wigan manages to stay up for another season, will Wigan chairman David Whelan be able to keep hold of the former Latics player? If Everton's David Moyes fails to sign a new contract, we might see Martinez plying his trade at Goodison Park next season.

After Reading's 3-0 home defeat to Wigan, boss Brian McDermott turns the focus to his side's next encounter at Everton.

"I'm going to move on quickly from that game, it's the only thing you can do in a situation like that," McDermott said. "They got a real spring in their step once they scored, but we didn't do the right things at the right time. We didn't get the details right."

The Royals have fond memories of their last match against the Toffees, with Adam Le Fondre scoring twice in the second half to seal three points at the Madejski.


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Another win could be on the books as Everton played most of their starters in Tuesday's FA Cup win over Oldham and have one win in their last five Premier League games.

Aston Villa still can't finish teams off. They were undone by two brilliant Santi Cazorla goals, but Andreas Weimann's equalizer was fantastic. The Villans may not have done enough to win the game at the Emirates, but they definitely deserved a point. Ron Vlaar's absence in defense is a likely weak point, but Paul Lambert's side can take great confidence from their performance.

They're going to need all the confidence they can get when they host Manchester City this weekend. Roberto Mancini's men simply outplayed Chelsea on Sunday and the quartet of Tevez, Aguero, Silva and Toure can terrorize any defense. The defeat at Arsenal saw Villa drop into the relegation spots and I do not see them getting out of it this weekend, barring a miracle.

QPR manager Harry Redknapp apparently does believe in miracles. "I still feel we'll get out of it," Redknapp said. "You probably think I'm mad… Everybody else has written us off, but I haven't. I still feel we have a chance."

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If King 'Arry wants his 'Rs' to stay up, they're going to have to beat the teams around them. They were beaten by two fantastic goals by Manchester United on Saturday, but they play Southampton this weekend.

Southampton has lost the most games this season after taking the lead early in the game, which makes Saturday's contest a very winnable game for the Loftus Road club when you look at the goal-scorers in their team: Adel Taarabt, Junior Hoilett, Loic Remy, Bobby Zamora, Jamie Mackie. Even Christopher Samba and Jose Bosingwa can score, but that's exactly the area where the Londoners have been struggling.

March is where QPR can make or break their season: There are many winnable games – but lots of pressure and no room for error. But if Redknapp is going to pull off his great escape, he’d better lay the groundwork now.

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