Thirty-seven games into the season and Fulham finally seems to have exerted some control over an otherwise tumultuous eight month campaign. Last Saturday's victory over fellow relegation candidates Birmingham City lifted Fulham out of the drop zone for the first time since December 2007, and also gave the Cottagers that which they sought most: complete control over their Premier League fate.
Heading into the final 90 minutes the task for Fulham is simple – a win will keep them in England's top flight next year. Its sure to be an exciting weekend for the American soccer fan, as Fulham and its national team players could stay in the Premier League at the expense of their teammates and friends at Reading. Ahead of Reading by goal differential and Birmingham by a point, Fulham can nullify this weekend's many permutations simply by claiming all three points against Portsmouth at Fratton Park. If they can't manage a victory, then things get interesting:
For Fulham to stay in the Premier League:
A win against Portsmouth
A draw against Portsmouth, a Reading draw against Derby, a Birmingham loss or draw against Blackburn
A loss against Portsmouth, a Reading loss against Derby, and a Birmingham loss or draw.
For Reading to stay in the Premier League:
A win against Derby, and a Fulham loss or tie
A tie against Derby, and a Fulham loss
For Birmingham to stay in the Premier League:
A win against Blackburn and losses or ties by Fulham and Reading
A tie against Blackburn and losses by Fulham and Reading
In all these scenarios, Goal Differential is not taken in to account. What you should know:
Fulham at (-23) have a better GD than Reading (-29). Birmingham (-19) has a better GD than both these teams. Only when teams are tied on points does Goal Differential become a factor.
Should the Goal Differential be equal, Goals Scored is the next tiebreaker followed by a one-game playoff at a neutral venue.