The Premier League relegation ‘race’ looks like going to the final round of the season after results on Saturday in week 36 of the competition.
Bottom three West Bromwich Albion, Southampton and Stoke City all successfully avoided defeat to keep alive their survival hopes.
The Baggies were 1-0 winners at Newcastle United thanks to Matt Phillips’ strike, after which caretaker-boss Darren Moore reflected: “We did everything that was asked of us. I was pleased with the result, it was a good, solid performance. We’re just continuing to look forward to the next game now, we’ll enjoy today, and look forward.”
Saints defeated Bournemouth 2-1 thanks to Dusan Tadic’s brace, and boss Mark Hughes was in positive mood post-match: “Everyone knew the circumstance, we needed a win. This is only a part of what we need to do, but good for us. To a man they all stepped up. At the end we were throwing bodies to keep them out. It is a huge result for us, doesn’t mean anything yet but potentially significant.
“We need to have the teams above us looking over their shoulder, and this result does that. They know we have good quality, we just need to keep momentum. If we keep going like today it will go close.”
The Potters held Champions League finalists-elect Liverpool 0-0 at Anfield in the early game. Stoke City manager Paul Lambert said: “All I wanted was to go into the last few games with a chance of staying up. This is not for the faint-hearted. We are in a fight. I will take the fight for anything, and so will the lads.
“If we had played like that from the start of the season, I would not be here and they would be cruising in the league.”
It means three from six could still drop – with Huddersfield Town, Swansea City and West Ham United still in danger.
The Terriers were poor in a 2-0 home defeat to Everton, while the Swans were beaten 1-0 at home by Chelsea in the late kick-off, Cesc Fabregas on target for his 50th EPL goal.
West Ham host champions Manchester City at the Olympic Stadium (14:15 GMT) on Sunday – although the remaining fixtures for Huddersfield Town see them as the team most under threat outside the current bottom three.
They must next travel to City, Chelsea and then face Arsenal at home on the final day of the season.
Of the other sides in and around the danger area, the most eye-catching match-ups are likely to involve Swansea City, who meet both Southampton and Stoke City in their final two fixtures.
Southampton could yet stay up with one more win from their last three games on 35 points – safety has been achieved on fewer points just once: 34 by 17th-placed West Brom in 2004/05.