Cardiff, Brighton now locked in race to avoid relegation

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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.

But six of its 31 points on the season have now come at the expense of Brighton, and Neil Warnock thinks his men have what it takes to pull off a great escape. From the BBC:

“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?

Nightmarish Brighton braces for massive Tuesday clash

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Brighton and Hove Albion finished Week 15 in the Premier League’s 10th place, 12 points clear of 18th place Saints, holders of a 5W-1D-2L run of league form and hoping for even better.

Since then? 17 matches, 12 more points, and the 17th spot on the table.

[ RECAP: Brighton 0-5 Bournemouth ]

Chris Hughton‘s men are now the last hope for Cardiff City, who visits Brighton five points back of the Seagulls and desperate for a shot at safety.

“The pressure’s on now,” said Dale Stephens. “We’ve got to stand up and be counted on Tuesday.”

[ MORE: Relegation picture clear ]

Brighton will host Cardiff City on Tuesday and must get a result from a must-win win for the Bluebirds.

Hughton is flummoxed at what happened to his team in an abject, 10-man display against Bournemouth which saw the Seagulls lose by five and lose Anthony Knockaert for Tuesday.

“It was a reckless challenge,” Hughton said. “It was the right decision. I’ve spoken to the team and I think it was one of the poorest performances since I’ve been here. Especially knowing the qualities of the team we were playing against.”

After Cardiff’s visit, Brighton tangles with Wolves at the Molineux before visiting Tottenham, hosting Newcastle, traveling to Arsenal and hosting Man City on the final day of the season.

Their quality coupled with Cardiff City’s defensive struggles should be enough to survive the battle, but Hughton and some of his men may not get out of the war with their jobs in tact.

Premier League Club Power Rankings: Week 33

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Who has the momentum heading into the final five (or six) matches of the Premier League season?

Let’s revisit our power rankings for a proper evaluation (as proper as power rankings can be, of course).

[ PL PREVIEW: Leicester v. Newcastle ]

It’s been a while since we last ranked ’em up and down, so look out for swings.

20. Huddersfield Town — Four points since the start of December.
Last week: 20
Season high: 16
Season low: 20

19. Fulham — Three points in 2019.
Last week: 19
Season high: 11
Season low: 20

18. Cardiff City — Wins away to Burnley and Brighton and absolutely necessary if the Bluebirds are to put legitimate pressure on anyone currently outside the relegation picture.
Last week: 17
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

17. Brighton and Hove Albion — A huge few days ahead for Chris Hughton‘s Seagulls, with Bournemouth and Cardiff City on the dial. A pair of losses would have them firmly in the mix to go down.
Last week: 14
Season high: 9
Season low: 19

16. Bournemouth **New season low**The Cherries have now lost consecutive matches on six separate occasions this season.
Last week: 13
Season high: 6
Season low: 14

15. Southampton — Five points above the drop and improving with a strong Wolves visiting this weekend.
Last week: 16
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

14. Newcastle United — The Crystal Palace loss stings, as safety could’ve felt assured even with a point.
Last week: 11
Season high: 11
Season low: 19

13. Burnley — Sean Dyche has done it again.
Last week: 18
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

12. Crystal Palace — Same as above, but substitute Roy Hodgson‘s name.
Last week: 15
Season high: 6
Season low: 17

11. West Ham United — Manuel Pellegrini is fine to feel aggrieved with the club’s injuries during his first spell in charge, but we bet he’d accept another season like it if Felipe Anderson stays in London.
Last week: 9
Season high: 6
Season low: 20

10. Watford — Will the remarkable FA Cup comeback drive Watford toward a 7th place finish?
Last week: 7
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

9. Leicester City — Brendan Rodgers can’t be blamed for an easy start to life as Foxes boss, something probably planned in the timing of Claude Puel‘s firing anyway, but the tests are coming very soon. Now in seventh, can he guide them through a gauntlet?
Last week: 10
Season high: 7
Season low: 13

8. Everton — Marco Silva‘s men very much delivering on investment and promise and just may deliver a Europa League spot.
Last week: 12
Season high: 5
Season low: 15

7. Manchester United — Moral victories won’t be feeling too positive across a fierce run-in.
Last week: 4
Season high: 3
Season low: 14

6. Wolves — The Burnley loss and FA Cup exit sting, but Nuno Espirito Santo has Manchester United’s number.
Last week: 8
Season high: 5
Season low: 13

5. Arsenal — League speed bumps (away to Watford, home to Palace) surround tough UEL fixtures versus Napoli.
Last week: 3
Season high: 2
Season low: 9

4. Tottenham Hotspur — Things are again looking up for Spurs in both leagues — Premier and Champions — as their new building bays for more wins and some silverware.
Last week: 6
Season high: 2
Season low: 8

3. Chelsea — How long will success-driving Eden Hazard stay? And could the Blues handle life without him, given their mercurial seasons with him?
Last week: 5
Season high: 1
Season low: 7

2. Liverpool — The schedule looks better than Man City’s but their rivals remain in the driver’s seat.
Last week: 2
Season high: 1
Season low: 4

  1. Man City — This week’s visit to Palace is the easiest fixture for the next few weeks, and it isn’t easy!
    Last week: 1
    Season high: 1
    Season low: 3

Premier League Club Power Rankings: Week 30

Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
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Little has changed at the top, or the bottom, of the Premier League, but the middle of the table — and power rankings — is as tight as could be…

[ MORE: Pep Guardiola loving life as “bold” Man City advances in UCL ]

20. Huddersfield Town — This is a side that is only still a PL club on a procedural technicality. Just give it time.
Last week: 19
Season high: 16
Season low: 20

19. Fulham — See above: Town, Huddersfield.
Last week: 20
Season high: 11
Season low: 20

18. Burnley — Now the eight-game unbeaten run (five wins) is over, it’s been three straight defeats. The Clarets are now just two points clear of the relegation zone (again).
Last week: 17
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

17. Cardiff City — The third side currently occupying a relegation place. The Bluebirds won last weekend, so they get a slight bump in power rankings. It wasn’t, however, enough to move them up in the real-life table.
Last week: 18
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

16. Southampton — Maintained a gap — two points — between themselves and Cardiff by coming back to beating third-place Tottenham.
Last week: 16
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

15. Crystal Palace — Recent form has been decent enough, but a loss to Brighton means they must sit at least one place below the Seagulls in this week’s power rankings.
Last week: 11
Season high: 6
Season low: 17

14. Brighton and Hove Albion — Indeed, Brighton sit one place above Palace. Following back-to-back wins, Chris Hughton‘s side is now five points clear of the drop zone.
Last week: 15
Season high: 9
Season low: 19

13. Bournemouth — Took the free space on their bingo card by beating Huddersfield, snapping a five-game unbeaten run (four losses) in the process.
Last week: 12
Season high: 6
Season low: 14

12. Everton — Just one win in their last six league games (four losses), and the Toffees are teetering on the brink of a freefall (down the power rankings, at least).
Last week: 10
Season high: 5
Season low: 15

11. Newcastle United — Returned to winning ways by knocking off Everton and have won three of four. Remember when we were talking about the Magpies and relegation in the same breath? Well, not us, but everyone else?
Last week: 14
Season high: 11
Season low: 19

10. Leicester City — 10th in the real-life table, 10th in the power rankings. Similarly to Bournemouth, beating Fulham isn’t anything to write home about.
Last week: 13
Season high: 7
Season low: 13

9. West Ham United — With the two sides directly in front of them in the table dropping points last week, the Hammers could have gained ground on 8th and 7th. Instead, they lost 2-0 to a relegation battler.
Last week: 8
Season high: 6
Season low: 20

8. Wolves — Results have turned poor(er) in recent weeks — just one win from their last five games — but maintaining early- and mid-season form for an entire campaign was never that likely to begin with.
Last week: 9
Season high: 5
Season low: 13

7. Watford — Hard to punish anyone for losing away to Man City in their current form, and it required some… uh… extenuating circumstances at that.
Last week: 7
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

6. Spurs — Panic-button time at White Hart Lane Wembley Stadium the soon-to-be new White Hart Lane. Zero wins from their last four (three losses), and their 10-point lead on Arsenal and Manchester United is now just one and three points, respectively. As it turns out, signing no new players and proceeding to run the current players into the ground all season is a bad strategy.
Last week: 5
Season high: 2
Season low: 8

5. Chelsea — Things have stabilized a bit since the embarrassing defeat to Man City, but the Blues still sit sixth in the real-life table, three points out of the Champions League places.
Last week: 4
Season high: 1
Season low: 7

4. Manchester United — The defeat to Arsenal was the first PL setback under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but it was a big one.
Last week: 3
Season high: 3
Season low: 14

3. Arsenal — Have the Gunners turned the corner under Unai Emery? They don’t have a single top-six side between now and the end of the season.
Last week: 5
Season high: 2
Season low: 9

2. Liverpool — Back to winning ways against Burnley, but the one point by which they trail Man City looms large.
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 4

1. Manchester City — Six straight victories. Just one defeat in their last 11 league games. This is the record-setting, title-winning side of a year ago. They’ve clearly left themselves a thin margin for error, but make no mistake: they are the favorites once again.
Last week: 2
Season high: 1
Season low: 3

Watch Live: Crystal Palace v. Brighton

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Crystal Palace host Brighton & Hove Albion (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) in a massive rivalry clash to kick off the Premier League action this weekend.

The M23 derby is here.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE

Palace have won three of their last five games, with Wilfried Zaha firing on all cylinders, and Roy Hodgson‘s men can almost see light at the end of the tunnel in their battle against relegation.

Brighton are just three points and two places behind Palace, but Chris Hughton knows his team aren’t in great form and a win in this derby would be hugely important for momentum in the final months of the season.

In team news Palace bring in James McArthur and Andros Townsend for Max Meyer and Cheikhou Kouyate with Vicente Guaita replacing Wayne Hennessey in goal, while Brighton made one change as Florin Andone replaced former Palace striker Glenn Murray in the lineup… but Andone was injured in the warm up and Murray comes back in.


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