Earlier I was looking through our remaining league fixtures (yes, despite our European adventure we still play in a league!), and I was wondering how much we could push on in the league. Of course, last year we achieved our highest league finish in our history with a seventh place. This is extremely unlikely this season (considering we would have to displace two teams from Tottenham, Manchester City, Aston Villa, Liverpool and Everton), but many may feel our current position of 12th is something of an underachievement given last season’s league position. An evaluation of our remaining games may show how high up the league we could finish, and whether we are actually achieving.
The length of our European tour remains to be seen so I will make two predictions for each game, one where we still compete in Europe, and one where we do not compete in Europe. I will start us on the 38 points we are on.
Wigan (H): This game is tomorrow, and Wigan are extremely temperamental and difficult to predict. This is a hard result to predict, so I’m going to remain on the fence and predict a draw. Maybe a 0-0, in both cases. (39 points)
Liverpool (A): This obviously won’t be easy, but the positive is that they will also have had a difficult European tie against Benfica, much like us against Wolfsburg. Again difficult to predict, but recent form suggests a Liverpool win, despite Fulham being something of a bogey team for Liverpool. In both connotations, I predict a loss in this game. (39 points)
Stoke (H): Stoke are a difficult team to play against, but I see no reason why we could not win this game. They are a team built around a solid defence and efficient teamwork, much like us. A draw would be a smart bet, but I have a feeling this will be a win if we were without European participation (42 points). With Europe, this may be a draw, as Stoke are difficult to play against (40 points).
Wolves (H): They could very well have ensured their safety by this point in the season, as they have good form at the moment, and were unfortunate at the Emirates. However I think we would like revenge for the defeat earlier on in the season at the Molineux. I had high hopes of an away win earlier in the season, an away win to add to the victory at Fratton Park on the opening day. I also have high hopes of a home win here, and see no reason why we can not win this game (45 points) Even with European competition I see no reason as to why we can not win this game. (43 points)
Everton (A): Everton are in great form, and we dont have the best record at Goodison Park, recent memories include a Yakubu hat-trick. Also Saha just loves scoring against us. The smart money says we will lose this game, with or without European competition. (45 points; 43 points).
West Ham (H): Huge game for the Hammers. Especially given the recent difficulties (or West Ham’s petulant owners). Likely to be a difficult game, against a team that we dont have the best of records against recently (draw earlier in the season, but last season they did the double against us). This looks like a draw to me. I see a tense game, a cluttered midfield (Etuhu vs Parker, Murphy vs Kovac), few chances created and many fouls. Some games have 0-0 written all over them. I also see this being a draw even with the Europa League. (46 points; 44 points).
Arsenal (A): I can’t help the feeling I have got that the title race might go to the last day, and that we may prove to be a thorn in Arsenal’s side. Season ending injuries to Fabregas and Gallas may restrict Arsenal, and with a young and inexperienced squad, they may just let the occasion get to them. Of course the game could also be one of those last day games that mean relatively little, what with Chelsea leading the title race for now, with many suggesting it may be beyond Arsenal’s grasp. And the Europa League final is on the 12th May, and this fixture is on the 9th May, so we may have to rest players (God forbid our weakened team leading to an Arsenal victory and title win, Man Utd or Chelsea complaining to the Premier League about Fulham seems like David vs Goliath). Either way, with 46 points before this game, a win, a loss or a draw will not matter too much to our league position. My brain says we will suffer a loss, but my heart says a draw, so lets go for a draw (47 points). With a potential final 3 days later, this game is a loss (44 points)
With a total of 47 points, I imagine that would leave us finishing in 11th place. This positions would have been accepted by the majority of Fulham fans before the season started, especially with quarter final appearances in the FA Cup and Europa League.
With a total of 44 points, I imagine a finishing position of 13th place. Again, if a Europa League final is reached, then 13th place is still satisfactory.
This article suggests that either way our season may turn, whether it be the continuation of our European season or a comfortable end to the league season, both results are satisfactory.
Of course one last effort from the team could see us push into the top half again. Four home games against Wigan, Stoke, Wolves and West Ham could see 12 points, giving us 50 points, which is a points total that suggest a top-half finish. And then who is to say we can not win these games even with European involvement. In reality, Fulham could finish anywhere from 9th to 14th still. I, and many of my fellow fans, are already satisfied with the season’s results and progress, and anything from this moment onwards can only be considered a bonus.