Fulham wins, keeps survival hopes alive (A closer look at the road ahead)

Fulham wins, keeps survival hopes alive (A closer look at the road ahead)

Americans Abroad

Fulham wins, keeps survival hopes alive (A closer look at the road ahead)

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Brian McBride’s game-winning header goal not only gave Fulham a vital 1-0 victory against Everton on Sunday, it breathed life into a relegation battle that the Cottagers looked to have already lost.

Now, with Sunday’s crucial victory in the bag, Fulham can seriously start thinking about making a serious run in its final eight matches. That is music to the ears of Cottagers fans as well as U.S. Soccer fans, what with Fulham fielding five American players (all five of which played on Sunday).

The distance from safety is now three points, which isn’t that great a gap. Fulham is in 19th place, two points behind Bolton (which has a game in hand, but that game is against Chelsea), and three points behind Birmingham. Sunderland sits four points ahead while Newcastle and Reading are five points ahead of the Cottagers. Birmingham and Newcastle face off on Monday, which means either one or both will extend their leads on Fulham.

So how will Fulham avoid relegation? A closer look at their remaining schedule and the schedules of the teams they are chasing shows that escaping the drop can be done.

Here are the eight games Fulham has left on its schedule:

  • at Newcastle
  • at Derby County
  • vs. Sunderland
  • at Reading
  • vs. Liverpool
  • at Manchester City
  • vs. Birmingham
  • at Portsmouth

That is a VERY manageable schedule, with five matches against teams in the bottom seven. I know it’s tough to call any schedule manageable when Fulham only has four wins all year, but the fear of relegation tends to help give some teams a boost.

To put Fulham’s remaining schedule into perspective, consider Bolton’s remaining schedule:

  • at Manchester United
  • vs. Manchester City
  • vs. Arsenal
  • at Aston Villa
  • vs. West Ham United
  • at Middlesbrough
  • at Tottenham
  • vs. Sunderland
  • at Chelsea

Yes folks, it’s safe to say that Bolton is toast. Games against Top 10 teams await in the next five matches and Bolton finishes up with a trip to Stamford Bridge. OUCH.

Now that we can safely assume that Fulham can pass Bolton, we can look at Birmingham and Sunderland’s schedules. Here’s Birmingham’s remaining sked:

  • vs. Newcastle
  • at Reading
  • vs. Manchester City
  • at Wigan
  • vs. Everton
  • at Aston Villa
  • vs. Liverpool
  • at Fulham
  • vs. Blackburn

With five matches against Top 10 teams and no easy home games after Newcastle, Birmingham is certainly vulnerable. If Fulham can turn things around then the May 3 home match against Birmingham could be for a place in the EPL.

Here is Sunderland’s remaining schedule:

  • at Aston Villa
  • vs. West Ham
  • at Fulham
  • vs. Manchester City
  • at Newcastle
  • vs. Middlesbrough
  • at Bolton
  • vs. Arsenal

Three of Sunderland’s next four are against Top 10 teams and the other match is at Fulham. The Cottagers win that one and they suddenly close the gap with the Black Cats. Like Bolton, Sunderland has a monster of a last game, facing Arsenal, which may need the match to win the league.

In short, Fulham’s chances of avoiding relegation aren’t nearly as slim as you might have imagined. Today’s win against Everton was vital to revive the dream, but now the Cottagers need to deliver more quality performances and avoid late-game blunders (and any more terrible officiating decisions against them).

What do you think of Fulham’s chances for survival? Share your thoughts below.

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