Tees-Wear switch & FA Cup impact
Sunderland's trip to Middlesbrough, which was scheduled for two weeks on Saturday, will be rearranged as a result of the Teessider's progressing in the FA Cup.
The fixture had been due to be played on 11th March and a new date will be decided between the two clubs, the Premier League and the police. This season's Tees-Wear derby - the first for four years - will likely be rearranged into a mid-week slot.
April's trip to the Emirates also looks to be in doubt. Arsenal are due to host Sunderland on the 22nd but if they progress in the cup against Sutton United tonight the Gunners will be at home to Lincoln City and more than likely progress into the semi-finals which will be held on the weekend we were due to visit. Another mid-week trip looks likely for this one too.
So, that's two mid-week games and two potentially free weekends to add a fresh twist in the relegation fixture saga. With Sunderland likely needing to win five or six of their remaining fourteen matches to stay up, every game now counts as 'crucial'.
Facing opponents 'distracted' by reaching the latter stages of the FA Cup may be no bad thing and regardless, all straws must now be grasped to keep the hope of survival alive.
Sunderland are likely the most affected side by fixture switches compared with our relegation rivals. Hull City, Swansea and Leicester have no disruption though Sam Allardyce and his Crystal Palace side's all-London clash with Tottenham on quarter-final weekend will now also be switched.
Police fail in bid to move West Ham game
Northumbria Police tried to move either Sunderland's game against West Ham or Newcastle's against Leeds in mid-April. A fixture anomaly has meant both Tyne and Wear clubs find themselves at home on the same day.
To make matters worse, that weekend is Easter so a little bank holiday jollity may be in the air as Leeds and West Ham fans descend on the region. Middlesbrough are at home too as they host Arsenal so the transport network will be rather busy that Saturday and into the bank holidays with plenty of supporters likely making a weekend of it.
However, both Sunderland's and Newcastle's fixture on the 15th of April are unlikely to be shifted as both the Premier League and the Football League have turned down an appeal from Northumbria Police. There is still a chance of change however as TV fixtures for that weekend have yet to be announced.
How are our relegation rivals feeling this morning?
Only Leicester were in action this weekend out of the Premier League's bottom seven clubs who can now probably all count themselves as 'officially' in the relegation mire. And the Foxes continue to lurch from one crisis to another. The current champions were embarrassed at the Den at the hands of League One Millwall and the fall-out has a way to run yet.
Claudio Ranieri's men could be forgiven for having one eye on Wednesday night's trip to Spain as Leicester will take on Sevilla in the first leg of the knock-out stages of the Champions League. But, reports suggesting the Foxes players on the pitch at Millwall were scared even to take a throw-in at the feisty Den hints at a psychological capitulation within the Premier League champions.
Meanwhile, all things remain un-Allardyce-like at Crystal Palace. Six defeats in Big Sam's first eight games in charge at Selhurst Park continues to see a reverberating meltdown amongst Eagles fans.
Amusingly, one Palace fan columnist in the Croydon Advertiser has even called on his fellow 'ultras' to stand up and be counted in a desperate call-to-arms this morning. Big Sam's side face Middlesbrough this weekend in a crucial relegation six-pointer.
From a Sunderland perspective a draw is probably the best outcome, though a Crystal Palace win may be no bad thing in leveling them up with 'Boro on points. But when fans start calling on their fellow fans to stop being so upset at what they're what witnessing on the pitch - you know there's trouble at mill.
Unbelievably, the Palace bloke who wrote this piece properly launches into his own fans who have probably quite rightly displayed their disgruntlement during their club's dreadful run of results:
When supporters chant 'you're not fit to wear the shirt' they don't mean the players are not fit to wear the shirts. They might think they mean that, but I think what they are actually saying is 'we the fans are not fit to support the team'.
If a Sunderland fan had written that there would quite literally be hell on. There may be more trouble ahead yet for Big Sam and his Palace survival mission on this evidence.
Meanwhile, Hull City are in Portugal this week. Marco Silva and his men are recharging their batteries before this weekend's home clash with Burnley, and Swansea City are in the midst of their present new manager bounce as Paul Clement looks to build on their excellent recent run of form since his unveiling as Swans boss.