Cardiff survival still a huge ask, despite weekend win
Cardiff City's 3-1 home win over bottom-of-the-table Fulham has kept the club's slim hopes of Premier League survival intact.
Cardiff have had a number of crucial games where securing three points was seen as achievable and they blew most of them. Back in December, Cardiff slumped to defeat at Crystal Palace and threw away a two-goal lead to draw with Sunderland.
In January, the Bluebirds faced a West Ham side who were on the ropes after two bad cup defeats, but The Hammers came to Cardiff and won 2-0. And two weeks ago, Hull City inflicted the biggest defeat of the season on Cardiff with a 4-0 trouncing at Cardiff City Stadium.
Expected defeats at Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United, Swansea and Spurs have made it a tough year so far. If the club had stumbled against Fulham it would have been all over. As it is, City are on 25 points from 29 games, just four below the par of a point per game that is usually enough for survival.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believed Cardiff needed five wins from the remaining 10 games. That's now been revised to four wins from nine games. If Cardiff are to secure those points they are going to have to take maximum points from West Bromwich Albion, Crystal Palace, Stoke and Sunderland, or pull off a shock result against Everton, Liverpool, Southampton, Newcastle or Chelsea to supplement any points dropped against their nearest challengers.
After several articles where I've been quick to highlight the lunacy regarding the running of the club, it's time to focus on the positives afforded by the win over Fulham.
Cardiff fans have been treated to moderate success over the last decade. There has been heartbreak in Wembley finals, but the general curve of the club has been upward, culminating in promotion last season.
So this year it's been difficult to see the side get beat more often than not and disheartening when good performances are not rewarded with any points. For a whole generation of fans, relegation is not something they have ever encountered.
Saturday's win over Fulham allowed even the most cynical amongst us to enjoy some goals and three points. Steven Caulker, City's captain, scored the opening goal in first-half injury time to end a run of 444 minutes since Cardiff last scored. Caulker was the inspiration behind the 3-1 win and also scored a second goal.
Solskjaer, in his short time as manager, has made plenty of changes to his starting line ups and against Fulham he continued that trend. His best move though was to welcome back Craig Noone after injury. Noone was a thorn in Fulham's side all afternoon and as well as setting up Cardiff's first and third goals he also provided the strikers with enough quality ball that should have added to the three goals that Cardiff did score.
Noone hustled, harried and tormented Fulham and he will be a key player as Cardiff aim to escape the drop.
This Saturday Cardiff travel to Everton for a first league meeting since 1962. That game ended with Everton winning 8-2. Cardiff will be hoping that after a 52 year absence the result will be better this time around.
The teams have since met in the League Cup, with Everton knocking Cardiff out, at Goodison Park in 1980. Cardiff have not produced a real shock result since beating Man City back in August. It's time to do so again, against Everton or Liverpool in their next two matches.