QPR and Reading meet with minds on drop
If the bottom two had picked up more wins of late then it could have been an archetypal relegation "six-pointer" yet with the duo 10 points adrift of safety with four games left, reality is sinking in.
"The Championship is full of quality clubs, with great stadiums, it's just full of big clubs. It's going to be difficult to come straight back up. You can't think you can walk straight through the league," QPR manager Harry Redknapp told reporters on Friday.
"We've just not got enough [points]. It has been a badly unbalanced squad," added the former Tottenham Hotspur boss who took over the fellow Londoners in November when they were bottom but has managed little progress despite spending heavily in January.
QPR's fate will be sealed if they lose, as will Reading's.
Redknapp hopes France striker Loic Remy will stay with the club in the second tier after they splashed out eight million pounds in January to sign him from Olympique Marseille, where QPR midfielder Joey Barton is now on loan.
"Remy is a player I feel could score 20 goals a season in a full Premier League season. We'll have to sit down with him and see what his plans are. We'd like to keep him obviously," Redknapp said.
"I think Joey has got a nice lifestyle there. So I'd be surprised really if he wanted to come back. I'm not saying I don't want Joey back. He belongs to the club. If he has to come back he has to come back. I don't know what the deal is there."
Reading manager Nigel Adkins, sacked by now prospering Southampton in January, was less downbeat but knows their chances of catching 17th-placed Aston Villa are remote.
"All football clubs in whatever league are always looking to what division they could potentially be in next season," he said ahead of Reading's home game.
"If you take the results away there's been a good improvement in the performances, but ultimately we have to win games of football."
Aston Villa, three points ahead of third-bottom Wigan Athletic but having played a game more than the FA Cup finalists, host Sunderland on Monday with the visitors having won their last two matches under new boss Paolo Di Canio.
Sunderland sit three points above Villa along with Stoke City and Newcastle United.
"It's all well and good getting back-to-back wins, but if we could beat Villa on Monday night, that would be massive," Sunderland captain John O'Shea told his club's website.
Perennial survival specialists Wigan have a tough ask as they welcome Champions League-chasing Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.