Premier League relegation battlers brace themselves for a telling weekend | Paul Wilson

The season has a long way to run but Aston Villa, Sunderland and the other strugglers may find this is a time of year that offers up some firm clues

This might not be the end of the football season, yet as the old saying goes when the fourth round of the FA Cup heaves into view and the days begin to lengthen, you can see the end of the season from here.

The good news for Newcastle, Sunderland and Aston Villa is that all three clubs have shown a slight upturn in form and fortune, in some cases very slight, over the past few weeks. The bad news, obviously, is that these grand old clubs still form the Premier League’s bottom three in mid-January. Actually it is worse than that. Mid-January has already gone, and after this weekend’s fixtures January will have gone. The Premier League takes a break for the FA Cup next week, so it will be February before we know it.

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