There are now just 9 games left for Championship clubs to make their promotion push or solidify their place in English football’s second tier, with every club having now played 37 games on the season. Here, we take our regular look at how things stand and are shaping up :
RELIEF FOR WOLVES AS BLUEBIRDS PECK AWAY
Two losses in three games had arrested the Wolves charge and allowed Cardiff City to close in on their back of their own magnificent seven winning game streak. Wolves responded though with an emphatic 3-0 home success over Reading, with Matt Doherty scoring twice. Although the much needed win kept Wolves just three points clear over their Welsh counterparts, they now hold a ten point lead over Aston Villa in third, which will take some reining in should Wolves not complete their automatic promotion charge. Cardiff are also very firm in second spot and will feel very comfortable about their own automatic return to the Premier League.
ONLY TWO PLAY OFF PLACES LEFT UP FOR GRABS?
Although an uninspired performance on Tuesday by Aston Villa meant QPR left Villa Park with all three points, Villa look secure enough in third place and a play off place seems certain, even if auto promotion is now quite distant. Similarly for Fulham, who whilst still in hot form after a tough run of games, may well be a bit too far behind the top two to trouble them. Derby’s inability to win continues, after a draw at local rivals Nottingham Forest, whilst Middlesbrough tightened their grip on the final play off place after a straight forward win over Barnsley. But these two will have to fend off the pressure from Sheffield United, Bristol City and Preston – all of whom are within a win or two of the play off places.
HELL SEEMINGLY AVOIDED FOR HULL
It took some time to arrive, but the purple patch seems to be here for Hull City just when needed. Two cracking wins over the two East Anglian sides look to have given them the space and air needed to breathe a bit more easily after getting dangerously close to the drop zone. A fantastic come from behind 4-3 win at home to Norwich was followed up by a 3-0 romp at Portman Road, Ipswich, and those six points have taken them to the heady heights of 17th place, leaping the likes of Reading and Sheffield Wednesday. The Tigers have found their roar at last!
FORM TABLES REVERSED FOR BLUES
It was just over a month ago when we were commending Birmingham City for a fine run of form to give them a great chance of survival…13 points from 18 available looked to have lifted the Blues to relative safety. But the Championship again shows that form is very much temporary, as since then Birmingham have lost seven straight, scoring just three goals in the process – two of those in their last loss at Cardiff. That loss leaves the Blues firmly entrenched in the bottom three, with Burton and Sunderland. Their only glimmer of hope seems to be the schedule as their next four games are all against teams in the lower half of the Division – but next up is a visit from the rejuvenated Hull City.
MORE CRUNCH GAMES TO BEHOLD
Round 38 of fixtures sees more absolute crunch games at both ends of the Championship table. As mentioned, Birmingham City host Hull City before Derby County welcome Cardiff City to Pride Park. There are more top versus bottom clashes as Burton Albion face a daunting trip to Wolves whilst Bolton host Aston Villa. Sunderland are at home to play off chasing Preston whilst QPR will be chock full of confidence after their win at Villa Park, but will do extremely well to repeat the feat at Fulham.
Check back with us next week to see how the Championship position looks after this weekends exciting round of games!