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The Vital Run-In

The Vital Run-In

Forget the royal wedding, all that really matters this weekend is Blackpool v Stoke.

The Seasiders once again find themselves in the position of having their Barclays Premier League fate in their own hands, although you'd have to be a fool to think that securing top flight football again for next season is going to easy.

We're on a very bad run of form, but last weekend's performance (and result, to an extent) against Newcastle has re-energised everyone around Bloomfield Road.

Focus now turns to Stoke, who did us a big favour by hammering Wolves in midweek. We beat them earlier in the season on the road and there have been suggestions that the Potters are tired and that their manager Tony Pulis (a big mate of Ollie's) may well rest players ahead of the FA Cup final, especially following Matthew Etherington's injury in midweek.

That said, it will still be a very tough game. Stoke are well organised and physical, being especially dangerous from set pieces. We'll have to be at our best to get the three points.

But what of the rest of the sides at the bottom?

Blackburn, who are one place above us, face Bolton, who are still reeling from their FA Cup semi final hammering against Stoke.

The Trotters lost 3-0 to Fulham in midweek, making this game suddenly look very winnable for Rovers.

They'll have to do it without Ryan Nelsen though; their inspirational centre half is out for the rest of the season through injury.

A win would be a massive step towards safety for Rovers, but given their lack of goals of late and the fact that Owen Coyle will be looking for a reaction from his Bolton side, we've gone for a draw here.

Prediction: Blackburn 1-1 Bolton

Moving into the bottom three and Wigan host in-form Everton.

Despite a raft of injuries, the Toffees have been flying of late and will be looking for further enhance their European credentials at the DW.

Wigan are a tough side to predict; after beating us 3-1 they then lost 4-1 to Sunderland.

Either way, we think they'll be goals.

Prediction: Wigan 2-2 Everton

Sunday lunchtime sees Wolves travel to Birmingham.

A win for the Blues would effectively see them safe whilst Wolves are in desperate need of the points after their midweek hammering at Stoke.

This will be a tight and tense game, fraught with scrappiness. In essence, it will be a game that will suit Alex McLeish's Birmingham side to a tee. They have a knack of getting the results in these games, and we think that'll be the case on Sunday as well.

Prediction: Birmingham 3-1 Wolves

Bottom of the table West Ham travel to Man City on the same day.

With concerns over Scott Parker's fitness, the Hammers look in trouble - they are the definition of a one-man team.

We're not expecting a rout, but we are expecting City to further tighten their grip on 4th.

Prediction: Man City 2-0 West Ham

The above would leave the bottom of the table looking like this (we haven't made a prediction for the Seasiders as we do not wish to tempt fate... please free to do so on our forums though!):

16. Blackburn - 36

17. Wigan - 35


18. Blackpool - 34

19. Wolves - 33

20. West Ham - 32

As you can see, a win for the Seasiders could be MASSIVE...

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Writer:Eamonn Moore
Date:Thursday April 28 2011
Time: 6:42PM

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11 Mansfield 14 4 7 3 19 1
12 Crewe 14 4 7 3 19 -1
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16 Cheltenham 14 3 7 4 16 -1
17 Hartlepool 14 3 7 4 16 -4
18 Barnet 14 3 7 4 16 -4
19 Cambridge 14 4 4 6 16 -5
20 Leyton Orient 14 4 3 7 15 -2
21 Wycombe 14 4 3 7 15 -5
22 Stevenage 13 4 2 7 14 -3
23 Exeter 14 4 1 9 13 -6
24 Newport 13 1 5 7 8 -8
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