London - The congested battle to avoid relegation from the Premier League is set for a tense finish with Leicester City, Burnley and Queens Park Rangers hoping to avoid becoming the first promoted sides in 17 years to all go down.
The only time since the Premier League's inception in 1992 that all three sides who came up from the second tier were immediately relegated was in the 1997-98 campaign when Barnsley, Bolton Wanderers and Crystal Palace all failed to beat the drop.
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Bottom side Burnley have won just one of their last 13 league fixtures, but despite their struggles boss Sean Dyche has been praised by many who predicted his side would be dead and buried by now.
"It's different for us, I said to the lads 'you've been written off now, you've been written off all season', so it makes no difference to us," Dyche said after his side's defeat to Leicester last weekend. QPR's resistance has not been helped by a dismal away record, an ageing squad and former manager Harry Redknapp's surprise decision to step down in February.
Sunderland currently occupy 18th spot, the final relegation place. They are a point behind 17th-placed Leicester, but boast a crucial game in hand on Nigel Pearson's side, whose run of four straight league wins came to an end against runaway leaders Chelsea on Wednesday.
While the promoted teams and Sunderland are in a nip-and-tuck battle to avoid the drop, familiar Premier League faces Newcastle United and Aston Villa are not yet safe. Newcastle's interim manager John Carver has endured a torrid time since taking over from Alan Pardew in December and last Saturday's 3-2 defeat by Swansea City at St James' Park was the club's seventh straight loss.
Carver could have also done without 15th-placed Hull City recording back-to-back league wins to move to within a point of Newcastle.
FA Cup finalists Villa, who have never been relegated during the Premier League era, are two points above the drop zone after last weekend's 3-2 defeat against Manchester City.
Ever the optimist, manager Tim Sherwood, who took charge in February, is adamant his side will survive if they perform like they did against last season's champions City.
"What? We play like that and get relegated? You are having a laugh aren't you?," Sherwood said when asked if he feared dropping down to the Championship.