Just fourteen games now remain for most clubs in the Championship, and things couldn’t be closer at the top or bottom of the most exciting League in world football!
Here, FantasySports.co.uk takes its regular look at all the action from the last round of fixtures, and previews upcoming games.
FULHAM FLYING AS VILLA BUBBLE BURSTS
Sitting proudly atop the current form charts across the last 5 and 10 games are Fulham, who moved ever closer to the top 4 with a resounding 2-0 home victory over Aston Villa, who had won seven Championship games on the spin. Goals from Ryan Sessegnon and Floyd Ayite gained the Cottagers the three points, with them dominating from start to end. Villa could only muster 2 shots on goal in the 90 minutes and didn’t win a single corner. The manner of the loss will be more of a concern to Steve Bruce than the points in isolation, but all the clubs above Fulham will be casting more than a worried glance in their direction, although their next two games are real promotion crunch clashes, against play off rivals Bristol City and then league leaders Wolves.
CARDIFF MOVE INTO AUTOMATIC PROMOTION SPOT…..AGAIN
All recent discussion about the second auto promotion spot in the Championship has seemingly been about Derby County and Aston Villa…..but flying apparently under the radar has been Cardiff City, and their home win on Saturday against Middlesbrough helped them to reclaim second place in the division, this being their third win in their last 5 games. They have a two point gap over Villa in third place and three point gap on Derby in fourth. The goal difference between the three clubs is amazingly close…Derby +22, Cardiff +21 and Villa +19 – so every point will count and all clubs will still harbour hopes of being the team to join Wolves in the Premier League without enduring the dreaded play offs.
BOTTOM CLUBS ALL STRUGGLE
It was a tough weekend at the foot of the division, with no team winning out of the teams currently in the bottom 8 of the Championship table. Burton and Nottingham Forest battled out a goalless draw at the Pirelli Stadium, with both teams having mixed feelings about the result. Sunderland got back to losing ways, with a home loss to Brentford, whilst Bolton and Birmingham couldn’t muster a goal between them in losses, respectively, to QPR and Millwall. Barnsley and Hull will be hoping their game in hand on their relegation rivals will be fruitful for them – three points each from the games will see them move relatively healthily up the table.
CRUCIAL FIXTURES UPCOMING
There will barely be a fixture remaining now that doesn’t have some implication to the Championship table. There is a full midweek programme before the weekends fixtures which, by the time we do our next review, will have seen some huge games such as : Aston Villa v Preston (3rd v 7th), Barnsley v Burton (22nd v 24th), Bolton v Sunderland (20th v 23rd), Bristol City v Fulham (6th v 5th), Birmingham v Barnsley (19th v 22nd), Fulham v Wolves (5th v 1st) and Cardiff v Bristol City (2nd v 6th). Absolutely breathless stuff!
BOOKIES STRUGGLE TO PREDICT OUTCOMES
It isn’t only us mortals who are struggling to predict who will eventually prevail or fall….UK bookmakers are having an equally tough time in sorting things out. Mainland bookies generally just make Aston Villa as favourites to join Wolves in getting auto promotion, but are literally a gnats hair ahead of Cardiff and Derby. The split is equally tight for relegation, as whilst little Burton Albion seem destined for the drop, there is little to choose between Sunderland, Barnsley, Bolton and Birmingham as to who joins them. Hull City seem to have a little more confidence with the bookies with their chances to stay up, but they could prove to be the value pick, having won just two in 15 games – less than all their rivals with the exception of Barnsley.