Relegation watching: What will it take for Cardiff City to survive?

Mark Runnacles

We take a quick look at what Cardiff City will have to do if they want to avoid relegation this season.

Over the past week, we've focused a lot on the various relegation scenarios and probabilities around the teams at the bottom of the Premier League table. Yesterday, I wrote a bit about the possibilities for Aston Villa in plain English, but I thought it might be useful to do the same exercise for the other teams below us on the table. It should help reassure everyone that, no matter how bad Villa have been, other teams have it much worse right now.

So today we begin with Cardiff City. I'll have follow-ups for Fulham, Norwich City, and Sunderland as well. And then, on Thursday's Holtecast, Jack and I will extensively break down all of the possibilities.

Cardiff City

Points: 30

Goal Differential: -38

Matches Remaining: at Newcastle, Chelsea

Cardiff have dug themselves quite the hole. They could still avoid relegation without winning out, but doing so requires a whole lot of failure elsewhere. Given their goal differential, though, it is certain that they must win at least one of their remaining matches to have any chances of staying up. If they don't, the best they can do is tie Sunderland and Norwich on points, and both of those clubs have better differentials than do Cardiff.

Let's look at what is possible for the Bluebirds:

They gain zero points (two losses): Cardiff will be relegated.

They gain one point (one loss, one draw): Cardiff will be relegated.

They gain two points (two draws): Cardiff will be relegated. Even if everyone else lost out, they would be tied on points with Sunderland and Norwich and would have a worse goal differential than Sunderland.

They gain three points (one win, one loss): If they can do this and Sunderland and Norwich lose out and Fulham get no more than two points (while keeping a worse differential than Cardiff), Cardiff would be safe. If any of those conditions aren't met, even three points sees the club in the Championship next year.

They gain four points (one win, one draw): This leaves the club at 34 points, with a differential probably around -36 or so. To avoid relegation here, they would still need Sunderland, Norwich, and Fulham to finish below them, since Villa could not. If Sunderland or Norwich could get two points or more, they'd be ahead of Cardiff. If Fulham could get four points, they'd be ahead. If any of those teams manage it, Cardiff are relegated.

They gain six points (two wins): At this point, Cardiff may actually be able to be safe. Villa would have to get at least a point in their final three matches, Sunderland and Norwich would need four, and Fulham would need to win out. That said, Villa are likely to get that point somewhere, and Sunderland seems almost certain to get a win and a draw before the season is over. Nevertheless, two wins give Cardiff a stronger chance at survival.

What is likely to happen: Newcastle have been playing terribly lately, including six losses in a row. It's possible that the form could continue and that Cardiff could steal three points on their trip this weekend. And that's if you ignore just how poorly the Bluebirds have been playing. Even if that happens, though, Chelsea are likely to still be alive in the title race on the last day, and should handily crush the Bluebirds.

Given what we know, it's hard to see Cardiff managing more than three points, and even that is a stretch. They looked atrocious in their loss to Sunderland over the weekend, and if they play like that at all, zero points is distinctly possible. They're likely going down.

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