Wigan and QPR give themselves timely boost


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The Independent Football

If it's squeaky-bum time at the top of the Premier League, it doesn't bear thinking about what it is like at the bottom.

Wolves need a minor miracle to avoid dropping into the Championship but it's two from (a probable) four for the other two relegation spots. Blackburn have had another dip in form at just the wrong time, while Bolton are staring into the abyss. They, however, have a crucial game in hand, away to fellow strugglers Aston Villa at the end of the month.

The big movers this week were Queen's Park Rangers and Wigan, both outside the drop zone with five games to play after excellent wins at home, against Swansea and Manchester United respectively. If Roberto Martinez keeps the Latics up again, it would surely rank as his greatest achievement, but the Spaniard insisted yesterday that the job is not done yet.


Martinez (left) said: "When we were bottom and second bottom I was always looking at the last fixture of the season. We play Blackburn and Wolves in the last two games. It would be very foolish for us to think anything has been done. It is great to see the points tally but we all know 13 May is the most important thing."

Martinez hailed his side's mental strength in beating the champions 1-0 despite the heartbreak of losing 2-1 at Chelsea on Saturday to two offside goals.

"It has been such a tough week," he said. "But we could not feel we had someone to blame or be sorry for ourselves. It was very important that we focused on our performance. To perform like we did against United, with the record we had against them (played 15 lost 15), speaks volumes about the minds of these players."

It was possibly Martinez's finest day in his three years as manager, after which he addressed rumours of an intention to leave in the summer.

"I heard that and was very surprised," he said. "You wonder where that rumour is coming from. There is nothing true about it. I signed a new deal in the summer for an extra two years."

If QPR are to stay up then it will be displays like the 3-0 win over Swansea, a third-straight success in front of their own fans, that will make it happen, particularly as their away form is so poor. Only three times have they won away from Loftus Road and the most recent, at Stoke, was in November. West Brom, Chelsea and Manchester City are their last three away trips, with home games against Tottenham and Stoke.

"The fans really drive us on and we feel we can give anyone a game here," said manager Mark Hughes. "That is going to be crucial although we will still strive to pick up away points."

Basement battle


QPR 33/8/7/18/38/56/31

Wigan 33/7/10/16/31/57/31

Bolton 32/9/2/21/36/65/29

Blackburn 33/7/7/19/45/70/28

Wolves 33/5/7/21/34/73/22

Remaining fixtures

QPR Tomorrow WBA (a); 21 Apr Tottenham (h); 29 Apr Chelsea (a); 6 May Stoke (h); 13 May Man City (a)

Wigan Monday Arsenal (a); 21 Apr Fulham (a); 28 Apr Newcastle (h); 7 May Blackburn (a); 13 May Wolves (h)

Bolton 21 Apr Swansea (h); 24 Apr A Villa (a); 28 Apr Sunderland (a); 2 May Tottenham (h); 6 May WBA (h); 13 May Stoke (a)

Blackburn Tomorrow Swansea (a); 21 Apr Norwich (h); 29 Apr Tottenham (a); 7 May Wigan (h); 13 May Chelsea (a)

Wolves Tomorrow Sunderland (a); 22 Apr Man City (h); 28 Apr Swansea (a); 6 May Everton (h); 13 May Wigan (a)