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Hopes and fears on Survival Sunday
Four northern teams battling for English Premier League status on last day of season.
Last Modified: 24 May 2009 07:22 GMT

Is the Big Man a Boro fan? [GALLO/GETTY]
A big day in the North sees four teams from one English region battling it out for their Premier League status in what has come to be dubbed annually as Survival Sunday.

With the title already wrapped up by Manchester United, the excitement on the last day of the season switches to the relegation dogfight.

This year all the teams facing the drop are from the north eastern climes of England – the traditional northeast cluster of Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough and their East Yorkshire neighbours Hull, who rocketed up the table in their first season in the top flight before hurtling towards their doom in the second half of the season.

Shearer on brink

Alan Shearer will be celebrating the biggest success of his footballing career if Newcastle United keep their 16-year stay in the Premier League alive.

"It would be the greatest thing that's ever happened to me in football, bigger than being appointed England captain, bigger than winning a championship medal at Blackburn," Shearer told the Daily Mail ahead of the visit to Aston Villa.

Since swapping television punditry for the Newcastle manager's job Shearer has won just one of seven matches, and now with one Premier League game remaining the club's fate is out of their hands.

Their woeful form, before and after Shearer's arrival, has left them third-last in the standings, a point behind Hull City and two adrift of Sunderland.

Second-last Middlesbrough, two points behind Newcastle, are also still fighting for survival on what is sure to be a painfully tense final day of action on Sunday.

Shearer has consistently stated his belief that Newcastle can yet survive but their chances look grim.

Woeful record

They have won only seven of their 37 league games, just two of them away.

Fixtures

Sunday May 24

 Arsenal v Stoke City
 Aston Villa v Newcastle
 Blackburn v West Brom
 Fulham v Everton
 Hull City v Man Utd
 Liverpool v Tottenham
 Man City v Bolton
 Sunderland v Chelsea
 West Ham v Middlesbrough  Wigan v Portsmouth

On the plus side, one of the home wins was against Villa, who have little to play for.

Even a draw or win will not be enough if Hull match their result in their home game against a Manchester United team certain to be without several big names ahead of the European Champions League final.

Sunderland, at home to Chelsea, have to match either Newcastle or Hull's result.

Middlesbrough need to beat West Ham United away and hope Hull and Newcastle lose.

Even then they would need a big swing to overhaul Hull on goal difference.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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