Caltex Socceroos star Aaron Mooy and his Huddersfield Town teammates now know exactly what they need to do as they bid to stay in the English Premier League next season.
In a relegation battle that could go down to the wire, two teams have been officially been relegated with West Bromwich Albion to join Stoke in the Championship next season.
West Brom's fate was sealed after Southampton beat fellow strugglers Swansea on Wednesday morning. A draw between the two sides would have kept West Brom in with a slim chance of safety going into the final day.
It would have also been the best-case scenario for Mooy's Huddersfield who now remain at risk unless they can nab one point from their final two matches – difficult tasks away to Chelsea (live from 4.45am Thursday on Optus Sport) and at home to Arsenal on the final day.
The challenge ahead has seen Huddersfield coach David Wagner label it a near "impossible task" but he is still confident his side have control over their future.
"From my point of view it was a challenge anyway," Wagner said before Thursday's game. "It is Chelsea, the former champion ... We will try for it, we will fight for it, we will work for it.
"We try to make something that looks like an impossible task - we will work to make it possible."
The Saints leap-frogged Huddersfield on goal difference with their win. Both sides are now locked on 36 points as Swansea occupy the final spot in the drop zone on 33 points.
But while Huddersfield have to face Chelsea and Arsenal, Swansea have an extra day to prepare for their final game of the season, a somewhat simpler task at home to Stoke.
Goal difference is again of concern for Huddersfield. That’s because if the Terriers fail to earn a point from their final two games AND Swansea beat Stoke, Huddersfield will be relegated as a result of their for and against.
PREMIER LEAGUE DROP ZONE LADDER
16. Southampton: 37 played, 36 points, -18 goal difference
17. Huddersfield: 36 played, 36 points, -29 goal difference
18. Swansea: 37 played, 33 points, -27 goal difference
19. West Brom: *already relegated
20. Stoke: *already relegated
Mooy has proven instrumental in Huddersfield’s late bid for safety. The Terriers picked up four crucial points with a draw away to Brighton and a win at home to Watford last month and were heroic on the road to runaway champions Manchester City.
The former Hyundai A-League midfielder was the best on ground for his team as they held City to a 0-0 draw, lauded by local newspaper the Huddersfield Examiner.
“Aaron Mooy was back to his very best,” wrote scribe Blake Welton.
Welton added: “[Against] City he was back to his high-octane best and at the heart of Town’s transitions from defence to attack.
“Whether he had a point to prove to his former employees or not, it can only be a positive for Town heading into the final two games of the campaign.”
Mooy could have to endure a quick turnaround from City to Chelsea to Arsenal in a gruelling run of three games in eight days to guarantee Premier League football next season.
With such a steep task ahead, coach David Wagner has now suggested some of his stars could be rested for the Thursday game, with all eggs put in the Arsenal basket.
“This [rotating for the Chelsea game] is an idea which we have in our head,” Wagner told the UK press.
"We will see how the guys look tomorrow.
"We will train now in the afternoon and we have training tomorrow morning as well and we will make the decision that makes sense - how many fresh legs do we need, what will be the best for tomorrow's game.
"We are used to rotation since day one when we arrived - the players are used to it.
"If it makes sense, we will use it.
"We will see how they look tomorrow, but after this great effort in the circumstances where it was very hot - it is something we have in our head but the final decision isn't done."
MOOY’S SURVIVAL EQUATION
Games to play: Chelsea (away), Arsenal (home) *note: Swansea play Stoke on the final day
If Huddersfield win/draw: A single point from two games and Mooy's side is safe, no matter Swansea's final day result
If Huddersfield lose both games: This leaves things in the balance. If Swansea win, Huddersfield go down on goal difference. But if Swansea draw or lose against Stoke, Huddersfield will remain in the Premier League.
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