The title race in the Premier League may not go to the wire but the fight to beat the drop is set to go the distance.
Nine teams are in a relegation outage with three months to go until the end of the season.
Southampton, Newcastle, Crystal Palace, Brighton, Bournemouth, Aston Villa, West Ham, Watford and Norwich all fight to prevent relegation.
Basement boys Norwich look like they have drifted, six points behind Watford and West Ham and seven out of safety, but with 12 games to go everything can happen.
Here, Sportsmail looks at the games of the nine teams that are worried about survival and assesses their chances of staying up.
Nine teams are in a relegation scrap with three months to go until the end of the season
REMAINING DEVICES FROM SOUTHAMPTON
Feb 22: Aston Villa (H)
February 29: West Ham (A)
March 7: Newcastle (H)
March 14: Norwich (A)
March 22: Arsenal (H)
April 4: Watford (A)
Apr 11: Manchester City (H)
April 18: Everton (A)
25 Apr: Manchester United (A)
May 2: Brighton (H)
May 9: Bournemouth (A)
May 17: Sheffield United (H)
12th: Southampton – 31 points (-16 GD)
A huge series of matches for Ralph Hasenhuttl starts on Saturday. For the next four weeks, they stand for all teams in and around them to ensure Premier League safety.
Southampton welcomes Aston Villa and Newcastle and makes trips to West Ham and Norwich in the coming weeks. It is imperative to get enough points on the board during that period.
The saints have achieved good results this season against the so-called larger teams, including victories at Chelsea, Tottenham and Leicester, but are inconsistent against the teams in the lower half.
Great results in the coming month would ease the pressure. Now that Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United will follow in April, Southampton at least knows they have the options to get something out of the games if necessary.
With striker Danny Ings in a blistering form with 15 goals this season and James Ward-Prowse returning from an injury, Southampton must stay away from danger.
A huge series of matches for the Southampton side of Ralph Hasenhuttl starts on Saturday
REMAINING DEVICES FROM NEWCASTLE
February 22: Crystal Palace (A)
February 29: Burnley (H)
March 7: Southampton (A)
March 14: Sheffield United (H)
March 21: Aston Villa (H)
April 4: Bournemouth (A)
11 Apr: West Ham (H)
18 Apr: Manchester City (A)
April 25: Watford (A)
May 2: Tottenham (H)
May 9: Brighton (A)
May 17: Liverpool (H)
13th: Newcastle – 31 points (-16)
Just like Southampton, Steve Bruce’s side is seven points free from the drop zone.
However, they have not made a profit since January 18 when they captured a 1-0 shock over Chelsea.
But unlike the saints, they don’t have a line of fire.
Joelinton, bought for a £ 40 million club record last summer, only scored one Premier League goal in August.
Dwight Gayle could come in on Saturday for the trip to Crystal Palace while Andy Carroll is lying on the treatment table.
It is important that the magpies win again quickly, as they face a tough race at the end of the season with Manchester City, Tottenham and Liverpool to play.
An inability to score could narrow the seven-point gap at Newcastle very quickly, but the fact that they were able to seal unlikely victories could be of great use to them.
Joelinton, purchased last summer for £ 40 million, has achieved only one Premier League goal
THE REMAINING DEVICES OF THE CRYSTAL PALACE
February 22: Newcastle (H)
February 29: Brighton (A)
Mat 7: Watford (H)
March 14: Bournemouth (A)
March 21: Liverpool (A)
April 4: Burnley (H)
April 11: Leicester (A)
April 18: Chelsea (H)
25 Apr: Aston Villa (A)
May 2: Manchester United (H)
May 9: Wolves (A)
May 17: Tottenham (H)
14th: Crystal Palace – 30 points (-9)
After a strong start to the 2019-20 campaign, the men of Roy Hodgson slipped off the table.
The next four games are crucial for the Eagles season and especially the next two in which they face the team, one place above them and the team one place below.
The games against Newcastle and Brighton after the winter break are perhaps the biggest games of the Palace of the season.
The men of Hodgson then face a tough period with meetings against Liverpool, Leicester, Chelsea and Manchester United.
If they struggle the following month, they are dragged into the relegation scrap.
However, the feeling is that they have just enough left to escape.
After a strong start to the 2019-20 campaign, the men of Roy Hodgson slipped off the table
REMAINING DEVICES FROM BRIGHTON
February 22: Sheffield United (A)
February 29: Crystal Palace (H)
March 7: Wolves (A)
March 14: Arsenal (H)
March 22: Leicester (A)
Apr 4: Manchester United (H)
April 11: Norwich (A)
18 Apr: Liverpool (H)
25 Apr: Manchester City (H)
May 2: Southampton (A)
May 9: Newcastle (H)
May 17: Burnley (A)
15th: Brighton – 27 points (-7)
The side of Graham Potter has gone through a difficult period this year without victories this year.
Their last victory came on December 28 against Bournemouth.
After a terrible series of shapes, the Seagulls now look over their shoulders.
Brighton still has some difficult remaining games with Arsenal, Leicester, Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City.
Journeys to Norwich and Southampton stand out as major clashes in their run-in.
Brighton assured a draw in their last two outings and so at least not lose and still adds points on the board.
Another positive point is that they have the best goal balance of the nine teams threatened with relegation.
Brighton has the best goal balance of the nine teams threatened with relegation
REMAINING DEVICES FROM BOURNEMOUTH
February 22: Burnley (A)
February 29: Chelsea (H)
March 7: Liverpool (A)
March 14: Crystal Palace (H)
March 21: Wolves (A)
April 4: Newcastle (H)
Apr 11: Manchester United (A)
18 Apr: Tottenham (H)
25 Apr: Leicester (H)
May 2: Manchester City (A)
May 9: Southampton (H)
May 17: Everton (A)
16th: Bournemouth – 26 points (-14)
The men of Eddie Howe may have the most difficult series of fixtures that are left.
The Cherries face Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham, Leicester and Manchester City in their last 12 games.
Bournemouth was in freefall to victories over Brighton and Aston Villa in recent weeks.
Saturday’s Burnley match is crucial to building self-confidence and gaining momentum with those difficult clashes to follow.
Prior to their home win against Brighton, they suffered defeats on the teams in and around them in the form of Norwich, Watford, and West Ham.
If Eddie Howe’s side wants to stay on top, they have to collect points from the so-called big guns with not many matches against fellow wrestlers.
The Bournemouth game at Burnley is crucial to building trust and gaining momentum
REMAINING DEVICES OF ASTON VILLA
February 22: Southampton (A)
March 9: Leicester (A)
March 14: Chelsea (H)
March 21: Newcastle (A)
Apr 4: Wolves (H)
April 11: Liverpool (A)
18 Apr: Manchester United (H)
25 Apr: Crystal Palace (H)
May 2: Everton (A)
May 9: Arsenal (H)
May 17: West Ham (A)
17th: Aston Villa – 25 points (-16)
Dean Smith’s side have a trip to Wembley to look forward to on March 1, but before that they face 12th placed Southampton.
With two tough matches to follow after the Carabao Cup final, it is vital that Aston Villa get three points on Saturday at St Mary’s.
Since their semi-final victory in the League Cup against Leicester, they have suffered defeats from Bournemouth and Tottenham.
As a result, Villa are in a precarious position where Leicester, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal still have to play.
Villas are shaky at the back – they have admitted the most goals this season in the English top flight.
Villa has star Jack Grealish in their ranks, but they may need more than him to prevent them from returning to the championship right away.
Aston Villa is in a precarious position and has some tough competitions to come
REMAINING DEVICES FROM WEST HAM
February 24: Liverpool (A)
February 29: Southampton (H)
March 7: Arsenal (A)
March 15: Wolves (H)
March 20: Tottenham (A)
April 4: Chelsea (H)
April 11: Newcastle (A)
April 18: Burnley (H)
April 25: Norwich (A)
May 2: Watford (H)
May 9: Manchester United (A)
May 17: Aston Villa (H)
18th: West Ham – 24 points (-15)
The Hammers are stuck in a rut after failing to seal a league win since January 1.
It seemed that that emphatic 4-0 win over relegating Bournemouth rivals would light their season, but the side of David Moyes is struggling.
After having suffered a defeat by Manchester City on Wednesday, they are faced with the tough trip to league-leader Liverpool on Monday.
If they can pick up something from Anfield, it would be a huge boost for confidence in a huge game against Southampton.
The Hammers still have to compete against rivals Tottenham and Chelsea, but will have the opportunity to come out of the drop zone in April with games against Newcastle, Burnley, Norwich and Watford.
Moyes led West Ham to Premier League safety in the 2017-18 season and the club should have enough quality to prevent the drop this time.
The West Ham of David Moyes is stuck in a rut after he has not won a league win since January 1
REMAINING DEVICES FROM WATFORD
February 23: Manchester United (A)
February 29: Liverpool (H)
March 7: Crystal Palace (A)
March 14: Leicester (H)
March 21: Burnley (A)
April 4: Southampton (A)
April 11: Chelsea (A)
April 18: Norwich (H)
25 Apr: Newcastle (H)
May 2: West Ham (A)
May 9: Manchester City (H)
May 17: Arsenal (A)
19th: Watford – 24 points (-16)
The appointment of Nigel Pearson had the desired effect. 15 points from his first eight league matches have given them a huge chance to stay up.
In recent weeks, however, the Hornets have hit a few bumps on the road without winning in four league games.
They have to regain their pace and get something from Old Trafford on Sunday, that is exactly what they could do.
Watford won a 2-0 win over Manchester United in December in the reverse league and has the quality to give the Red Devils more trouble.
April can be an important time for the club with matches against Southampton, Norwich and Newcastle, especially as their season ends with clashes against Manchester City and Arsenal.
Pearson saved Leicester from the drop in 2015 and could unleash another major escape.
In recent weeks, Watford has hit a few bumps on the road without winning in four league games
NORWICH REMAINING DEVICES
February 23: Wolves (A)
February 28: Leicester (H)
March 7: Sheffield United (A)
March 14: Southampton (H)
March 21: Everton (H)
April 4: Arsenal (A)
11 Apr: Brighton (H)
April 18: Watford (A)
25 Apr: West Ham (H)
May 2: Chelsea (A)
May 9: Burnley (H)
May 17: Manchester City (A)
20th: Norwich – 18 points (-24)
The Canary Islands face a tough task with six points that separate them from Watford on the second floor.
But Watford has shown that it is possible to get some speed when it is furious and it is not as if Daniel Farke’s side is beaten every week.
They were narrowly defeated last weekend by runaway leaders Liverpool.
The following few games can be made or broken for Norwich with Wolves, Leicester, Sheffield United and Southampton to play.
The feeling is that Norwich is lagging too far in this phase of the season.
They scored the joint lowest number of goals and the second second highest score. It seems that Norwich is back in the second rank of English football.
Norwich faces a tough task with six points that separate them and the rest at the foot of the table