Poll: Which team is most likely to bottle as the season comes to a close ?
The football season has now well and truly entered “squeaky bum time” with the titles and promotions set to be resolved in the coming weeks.
The end of the season will mean glory for some and heartbreak for others but which team is most likely to bottle under the pressure.
Read on for our top eight culprits and have your say in the vote below.
The Blues are 10 points clear of Arsenal at the Premier League peak but face the Gunners this weekend. Defeat would cut that lead to just seven points with five games remaining; in that time Jose Mourinho’s men face a tricky match against Liverpool and two fixtures with clubs fighting for their lives in the relegation battle.
With a seven point cushion over fourth-placed Liverpool, Manchester City appear to have at least consolidated their place as a top four club – even if their title defence whimpered away some time ago.
However, with Liverpool in the ascendancy and City in the midst of their worst form in recent memory dropping points against the likes of a rejuvenated Aston Villa Tottenham and a desperate QPR could prove their undoing.
For all the plaudits Louis van Gaal has earned for United’s form in the second half of the season defeat to Chelsea last time out left the Red Devils just a point better off than their noisy neighbours.
The Old Trafford club have an easier run in on paper but the visit of Arsenal looms large in the penultimate game of the season and LVG will want a top four finish beyond doubt before the Gunners arrive.
The Cherries have been in the Championship’s top two longer than any other club this season, have enjoyed more possession than anyone else and scored the most goals. On that basis they should be rewarded with a first ever season in the top flight but nerves have started to creep into Eddie Howe’s side.
A last minute draw with Ipswich, a less than convincing win over Brighton and the calamitous draw with Sheffield Wednesday have ensured a nervy end to the season – but their fate is still in their own hands.
With a one point cushion over Bournemouth, Middlesbrough and two games against opposition with nothing to play for Watford look assured to go up as Champions.
However both Brighton and Wednesday proved recently against Bournemouth that their minds are still on the tasks at hand, meaning the Hornets will have to play at 100 per cent to get over the line.
With a 15-goal swing needed to catch Bournemouth Boro know that they need the Cherries to slip up if they are to secure automatic promotion.
Brighton and Fulham are both safe but with the latter’s manager Kit Symons potentially needing to prove he is the man to remain in the Craven Cottage hotseat the Liliywhites could still cause an upset.
Preston North End
As it stands Preston will go up automatically but with MK Dons just a point behind and 15 goals to the good there is little room for error.
North End face a Swindon side hoping to hit peak form in time for the play-offs and a Colchester side still angling for survival, while the Dons face a Rochdale team seemingly out of the play-off race and already-relegated Yeovil.
Victory for Southend over Bury means Wycombe still have their fate in their own hands and in Morecambe and Northampton the Wanderers face sides with little beyond pride to play for.
However, the 1-1 draw with the latter earlier in the season could be a cause for concern for the Adams Park faithful going into the last day of the campaign.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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