Chris Hughton hasn’t been denying that Brighton and Hove Albion has been in a relegation battle, but Tuesday’s 2-0 loss to 18th place Cardiff City means the table tells the story plainly.
The Seagulls are up against it.
[ RECAP: Brighton 0-2 Cardiff City ]
“We have a fight on our hands,” Hughton said after the loss sunk the Seagulls to within two points of the drop zone, albeit with a match-in-hand on Cardiff.
“This is a proper fight. We have to make sure we turn it round by staying together, digging deep and making ourselves hard to beat.”
Cardiff had won just one match in seven coming into Tuesday, and sat in 18th since a Week 28 loss to Everton.
“We had a few pundits say it would be our final game in the Premier League but we are alive and kicking. We deserved tonight. … We came out of the traps and enjoyed it today. We are far from finished yet.”
Brighton plays two matches by April 23, while Cardiff just faces Liverpool. The final three matches for both teams will be staged on the same days of the calendar.
Here are the nine matches involving each team the rest of the way. Brighton has a 12-goal advantage on Cardiff in terms of differential:
Saturday: Wolves v. Brighton
Sunday: Cardiff City v. Liverpool
April 23: Tottenham v. Brighton
April 27: Brighton v. Newcastle -and- Fulham v. Cardiff
May 4: Arsenal v. Brighton -and- Cardiff v. Palace
May 12: Brighton v. Man City -and- Man Utd v. Cardiff
There are scenarios where relegation, the Premier League title, and a Top Four place will all be determined by goal differential for Brighton and Cardiff against the two Manchester powers on Decision Day.
In a year which saw so many setbacks and the horror of its record signing killed in a plane accident, how incredible would it be for Cardiff to come back from the brink?