Yesterday we took a look at what it would take for Cardiff City to avoid relegation in an increasingly-crowded bottom of the Premier League table. Today we shift our focus to the team currently in 19th, Fulham. Later today we'll have a look at Norwich City.
Fulham have a tough road if they want to be members of the Premier League next year as you're about to see. Remember, part of the point of this is to make us feel better about where Villa stand.
Goal Differential: -42
Matches Remaining: at Stoke, Crystal Palace
Felix Magath has done an excellent job since coming on as manager at Fulham, taking over for Rene Meulensteen. When he joined the club, they had just 20 points from 26 matches (.77 points per match). Since then, they've taken 11 from their last 10 (1.1 points per match). It's not a great record, but it's actually four points better than Villa in the same timespan. Nevertheless, Magath may have been given an impossible task, and Fulham are highly unlikely to save themselves. Let's look at their possibilities.
They gain zero points (two losses): Fulham will be relegated.
They gain one point (one loss, one draw): Fulham will be relegated.
They gain two points (two draws): The Cottagers could survive with 33 points if Cardiff only managed two or fewer and if Norwich and Sunderland lost out the rest of the season. If any of those three fail to happen, even two points wouldn't save Fulham.
They gain three points (one win, one loss): This would put Fulham at 34 points. At that point they'd be safe if Cardiff could only manage a win and Sunderland and Norwich got no more than a point each. See, Fulham's biggest problem is their atrocious goal differential. If either of Norwich or Sunderland tie them on points, Fulham will almost certainly lose that battle. If they can eek out a win, they might have a shot at survival.
They gain four points (one win, one draw): At 35 points, any win from Sunderland or Norwich (hahahaha) dooms the Cottagers. They would be tied with Villa on points (if Villa manage to get nothing else), but their differential would see them below the claret and blue anyhow. At this point, Fulham may actually be hoping for safety. If 35 points is safe, as I've said for a while now, they'd be there.
They gain six points (two wins): By now if Fulham aren't safe weird things are happening. Cardiff could not catch them. Norwich couldn't without two wins. Sunderland would need a win and two draws or two wins. And Villa would have to get a win or two draws. Norwich aren't getting two wins. And it's tough to see Sunderland, despite their good form of late, getting to 37. Villa, hopefully, will be above 37. It says a lot about Fulham's position, though, that you can really easily imagine them dropping even if they win out.
What is likely to happen: Stoke City have taken 33 of 54 points available to them at home this year, including 16 of their last 21 (one draw and one loss in the past seven). It's hard to believe that Fulham squad who dropped a two-goal lead to Hull City will be able to travel to Britannia and get anything. Even if they can snag a point, that plus a win against Crystal Palace (which I'm willing to believe they can do) won't guarantee them much. At this point, Fulham pretty much must win out.
If they cannot get a win at Stoke this weekend, Fulham cannot catch Villa, and in all likelihood, they will drop. If they lose, Fulham fans can get used to supporting a club in the Championship.
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