Sunday, May 04, 2008

Hoping for the Chance to Eat Relegation Crow

Following their crushing defeat to Sunderland one month ago, I wrote that Fulham – the EPL team nearest my heart – was "mathematically certain[]" to be relegated down to the League Championship of English football. This Saturday, we'll see if I was wrong.

Following my April 5th relegation obituary for the squad, Fulham – a team that had not won an away match since September 2006 – promptly won two away matches at Reading and Manchester City. Yesterday, the team won a vital game at home, pushing Birmingham further into relegation territory. More importantly, this victory temporarily pushes them out of the relegation zone — the team is currently tied with Reading for the last slot, but is ahead of Reading on points. If the season ended today, they'd escape relegation by the narrowest of margins.

Next weekend is the final weekend of the season, and Fulham has the chance to survive. (Note: As I mentioned in my original EPL post last June, the final relegation slot was also determined during the last weekend of the 2006-07 season.)

If Fulham wins and Reading wins by less than a truly historic blow-out (the goal differential between the two is +6 Fulham), Fulham is in.

If Fulham draws, Reading draws or loses, and Birmingham draws or loses, Fulham is in.

If Fulham loses and both Reading and Birmingham lose, Fulham is in.

In all other circumstances, Fulham will be relegated.

Fulham plays at the somewhat-mighty Portsmouth next weekend. Birmingham plays at home against the game Blackburn Rovers. Unfortunately for Fulham, Reading goes up against Derby County. It doesn't really matter that it's an away game for Reading — Derby is statistically the worst team to ever play in the English top league. Even if Derby beats Reading, its 14-point total for the season is the worst in the history of the English game.

So it looks like Fulham has to win. I'll be traveling during the game, which will help ease my anxiety as the team battles for its EPL life. Go Fulham!

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