The Great Escape. Cardiff. Will they do it?
In scenes which almost certainly led to a spike in The Office gif usage in Bluebird quarters, Neil Warnock’s men pulled off exactly the result they needed by beating Brighton at the Amex Stadium.
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Sean Morrison were the heroes for last season’s Championship runners-up on Tuesday which will leave clubs looking over their shoulders.
It is not quite a two-horse race, but with the Seagulls sitting precariously in 17th, they are the team Cardiff will be aiming to reel in.
AS IT HAPPENED: Brighton 0-2 Cardiff
And it will only serve to add to Brighton’s woes after Chris Hughton’s men were humiliated 5-0 by Bournemouth last weekend.
So, who survives and who doesn’t? Who joins Huddersfield and Fulham in the Championship next season?
Rafael Benitez’s men struggled through the opening half of the season but have since come into their own.
Beating Manchester City seemed to spark fresh life into the Toon and they have only lost two of their last five matches.
They sit seven points clear of Cardiff in 18th and should be safe with just four games left, with a fairly favourable set of fixtures to come.
But should things take a turn for the worse, any points dropped in the next two matches will be to teams immediately around them.
Keep calm territory for Benitez’s men.
Remaining fixtures: Southampton (H), Brighton (A), Liverpool (H), Fulham (A)
The Saints have been on a generally upwards trajectory since the introduction of Ralph Hasenhüttl in December.
The Austrian took over with Southampton ominously staring at the void, having followed up defeat to Fulham with a draw against Manchester United.
That result could not save Mark Hughes, though, and defeating Arsenal and Huddersfield before Christmas helped propel them up the table.
They have basically averaged one win a month since, but that’s almost proven to be enough in a season with a smorgasbord of awful teams to pick from.
It helps that they have a decent enough run-in, too.
Remaining fixtures: Newcastle (A), Watford (A), Bournemouth (H), West Ham (A), Huddersfield (H).
Now. Chris Hughton will be left with a dreaded sense of deja vu after his relegation with Norwich in 2014.
His Canaries side were dragged into a scrap from January and, ultimately, relegated.
And after a strong cup run ended in valiant defeat to Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final this time around, though, cup form has not translated into league wins.
With just two Premier League victories in 2019 - against Huddersfield and Crystal Palace in consecutive games in March - it could go all wrong at the very end.
A 5-0 home thrashing by Bournemouth was followed-up with a defeat to fellow strugglers Cardiff which has given Warnock’s men the fresh impetus in the fight for survival.
And what will almost certainly strike fear into their players is the fixture list; which is not kind to Hughton’s men.
Remaining fixtures: Wolves (A), Tottenham (A), Newcastle (H), Arsenal (A), Man City (H)
Who would have seen this coming after their 2-0 defeat to Burnley?
The Bluebirds have had some poor luck this season - you *may* have heard Warnock’s complaints after losing to Chelsea last month - but could be reasonable candidates for the final relegation spot.
Indeed, they have been drab and uninspired at times this season. Heck, they were seen as fodder to finish bottom.
But it’s a huge credit to them that they are still in with a chance of survival.
And that glimpse of a chance has become something more after a crucial win on Tuesday night.
Can they complete the escape? Time will tell, but the fixture list isn’t overly helpful to them, either.
Not to mention Brighton have a game in hand.
Remaining fixtures: Liverpool (H), Fulham (A), Crystal Palace (H), Man United (A).
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