Premier League Relegation Battle Special Part 2: The battle is on!

Blackburn Rovers 2 – 0 Norwich City

A crucial victory for Rovers, but Steve Kean is still a hated man, but as long as he can get the wins, he won’t care. Despite the 2-goal margin, however, the performance wasn’t a spectacular one.

With an away game to Spurs up next, Kean has some tinkering to do. Norwich had the lion’s share of possession despite being the away side (57% – 43%). Contributing to this was Blackburn’s poor passing and apparent willingness to turn the ball over. Only 64% of Blackburn’s passes found their intended target – not good at all.

On the plus side, their wing play was encouraging. Morten Gamst Pedersen and Mauro Formica did well on the day and created as well as put away chances (in Formica’s case for the latter).

It’s hard to see this club escaping the drop, they keep fighting and have won a few, but then again so has everyone else. If they are to survive they need everything on their side, especially the crowd and Yakubu scoring will be vital.

Bolton 1 – 1 Swansea

As was the case with QPR, Bolton were fortunate to sneak away from this game with a point. Swansea aren’t particularly good away from home, but played very well at the Reebok, perhaps smelling blood in the water.

They created endless chances, tormenting Bolton’s full backs in particular, but in the end, Bolton were let off by poor finishing and offside awareness. Swansea dominated possession (62% – 38%) — this isn’t a surprise given the nature of their play. However, a major contributor to this was Bolton’s poor passing. Like Blackburn, they were too generous with possession. In addition, they played very aggressively, resulting in a high amount of fouls (19). While they disrupted Swansea’s play with this tactic, they put themselves under pressure by giving away numerous free-kicks.

Given what Bolton have been through recently, they can use such experiences as inspiration to win their next game and survive a relegation battle they’ve been heavily involved in for a large part of the season. All in all, survival is very possible. However, this club may unfortunately fall short of safety in the end.

 

Aston Villa 1 – 2 Bolton

This game was a huge 6 pointer for both clubs and it was a crazy game as 3 goals in 3 minutes were enough for Bolton to take all 3 points. Aston Villa now find themselves in trouble as Bolton are now only 3 points behind them with game in hand and for the first time being drawn in to the relegation battle is a real possibility.

The game showed again that Villa are stretched to the limit as again their starting line-up was littered with youngsters and against Bolton’s more established and settled sides.

Bolton may have won this one, but Aston Villa may think themselves unlucky after having 16 shot in total, but the fact only 4 were on target tells a tale. Bolton had only 7 shots, but 6 of those were on target. Bolton keep possession of the ball well with 56.3% of possession overall and a pass completion rate of 69.3%, which are higher than Villa’s.

This is a crushing defeat for Villa’s confidence and big boost in Bolton’s hopes of survival. With one club already gone, the question is who else will be joining them – the fight is on and Joel will be covering all the drama on Football Rascal weekly between now and the end of the season.

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