After a disappointing week, we take a look at what lies ahead and what we need to do to survive.
Think back to the middle of last week. It was universally agreed that at least four points were needed out of the two games against Brighton and West Brom. Things didn’t pan out that way, and here we are three games later only two points better off. The real winners this week were Brighton. Seven points from nine, including wins against Spurs and Liverpool. A run of form we can only dream about. The Seagulls have lifted themselves ten points clear of the relegation zone with those results and our focus firmly moves to catching Burnley or Newcastle, or both.
So what lies ahead? Over the past four seasons, 36 points have been enough to keep sides in this league. Whether that rings true or not this season, only time will tell, but let’s set that as a target for now and see where that takes us. Currently, we sit on 14 points with 17 games remaining and we have some daunting tasks ahead of us. A Liverpool, Manchester City double-header at the start of March, an all-London triple-header with Arsenal, Tottenham, and Chelsea at the end of April, and a trip to Old Trafford for our penultimate game of the season in May. But also in that mix are some games that we could target to win.Embed from Getty Images
At the end of February, we have a big two games against Sheffield United at Craven Cottage and Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park – two very winnable games and a real chance to get 6 points on the board. Albeit, The Blades have put a bit of a run together in recent games, they are still a very ordinary side that are very beatable. Crystal Palace, on the other hand, are great at winning meaningless games. Just when they start to put a bit of form together, their toothless side comes out just like we saw when they lost to Burnley and Newcastle one after another earlier in the season.
After the Liverpool, Man City double-header we take on Leeds, Aston Villa, and Wolves. These are three of the most inconsistent teams in the Premier League this season. Some weeks they look like world-beaters and you wonder why they’re not higher up the table, whilst the next week they are getting beaten 4-1 by Crystal Palace or 3-2 by Burnley or 3-2 by West Brom. While I don’t think there’s any “dead certs” when it comes to Fulham winning, six or seven points here is very achievable (if we can get our goal-scoring issues sorted).
It could all come down to this
Three of our last four matches come against Burnley, Southampton, and Newcastle. Hopefully, at this point, we’ll still be battling it out with the Clarets and the Magpies for survival. As we saw in the FA Cup, Burnley are a strong, physical team that are very hard to beat. And if they are beaten, it’s usually by the finest of margins. Having said that, they aren’t great at winning games either, and like ourselves recently, really struggle for goals.
Southampton were top of the Premier League last year for a short period however, since then they have somewhat fallen off a cliff. They’ve only taken six points out of the last 27 available and who knows what way it’s going to go for them after their 9-0 drubbing by Man Utd. They could come back stronger than ever like they did in 2019 after the Leicester game, or they could easily keep falling further and further. If the former happens, it could be a nice opportunity for three points on May 12th.
Finally, we have Newcastle on the final day of the season, and it could all come down to this. Hopefully with a boisterous crowd at Craven Cottage. Newcastle are another team that are so hard to judge. Just when you think you have them figured out they pull out a thoroughly deserved 2-0 victory at high-flying Everton and you think, this might be the catalyst they need. Fast forward three days and they’re getting beaten at home by Crystal Palace. If it came down to a winner takes all game in the Cottage, with a crowd, I think it’s our game to lose and we could hopefully pick up the final three points that we need.Embed from Getty Images
Below is a prediction of results from the optimistic side of my brain, and exactly where I think points can be achieved between now and the end of the season.
Let us know what you think.
|West Ham||6th Feb||Craven Cottage||0-0 – D||15|
|Everton||14th Feb||Goodison Pk||2-0 – L||15|
|Burnley||17th Feb||Turf Moor||0-0 – D||16|
|Sheffield Utd||20th Feb||Craven Cottage||1-0 – W||19|
|Crystal Palace||28th Feb||Selhurst Park||1-2 – W||22|
|Liverpool||6th Mar||Anfield||2-0 – L||22|
|Man City||13th Mar||Craven Cottage||0-3 – L||22|
|Leeds Utd||20th Mar||Craven Cottage||2-1 – W||25|
|Aston Villa||3rd Apr||Villa Park||1-1 – D||26|
|Wolves||10th Apr||Craven Cottage||1-0 – W||29|
|Arsenal||17th Apr||Emirates||1-0 – L||29|
|Spurs||24th Apr||Craven Cottage||0-0 – D||30|
|Chelsea||1st May||Stamford Bridge||2-1 – L||30|
|Burnley||8th May||Craven Cottage||1-1 – D||31|
|Southampton||12th May||St. Marys||1-2 – W||34|
|Man Utd||15th May||Old Trafford||3-0 – L||34|
|Newcastle||23rd May||Craven Cottage||1-0 – W||37|