An interesting subplot in what has basically become Leicester’s season, is that one of Newcastle and Sunderland is guaranteed to be relegated from the Premier League – possibly both.
With just one point separating the two sides and just three games remaining (four in Sunderland’s case), it is getting uncomfortably tight down there at the bottom.
— Premier League (@premierleague) April 29, 2016
Newcastle play host to FA Cup finalists Crystal Palace this weekend, and Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce has suggested that the away side would not be taking the match seriously due to other commitments, saying in his pre-match press conference earlier this week:
“Newcastle will win on Saturday, I’d have a bet on that if I could,
“I think they’ll beat Palace and they’ve got Villa, then it depends on what Spurs do there. So I think they’ll win at least two.
“Palace are in the FA Cup final and they would all have been celebrating, they would all have been on the pop.”
If that was an attempt to ratchet up the pressure on Newcastle however, then Magpies boss Rafa Benítez is not rising to it. His side are in a good run of form recently and victory against Palace could take them out of the relegation zone for the first time since early February, but he is taking nothing for granted.
Benítez hit back in his own press conference:
“I don’t bet. Obviously I agree we have to win. In my experience, it’s the players who make the difference, not the managers. I can prepare for the game, but to talk about mind games, I don’t take too much notice.”
“Sunderland are in a better position than us for sure, but if we can win this, then we will have more confidence, belief and we can approach that Aston Villa game.
“The main one is this one. I am just looking at this game and we’ll see after that.”
There is no love lost between the two managers, and while winning survival is the main objective, relegating the other manager would be a nice bonus.