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We are into the final leg of Championship fixtures, and with little over a month to go before it is very tight at both the top and the bottom of the table, whether a team is going for the title, a playoff place or survival, there is no longer room for mistakes.
During the week, both Cardiff and Wolves won while Aston Villa slipped up at home to Queens Park Rangers, meaning there is a 7-point gap between second and third which is quite a leap at this stage of the season. At the foot of the table, Sunderland remain 5 points away from safety and both Burton Albion and Birmingham City are on a terrible run of form.
However, it only takes one positive result to turn things around. So what can we expect from the Championship this weekend?
There is no worse team in the league than Birmingham City on current form, and there have yet to be any encouraging signs since Gary Monk’s appointment. However, the first real chance for Monk to get a good result comes this weekend when they face a Hull City who are inconsistent at the best of times.
Hull have won 2 games in a row, and it would be the first time they would have won 3 in a row all season if they were to overcome the Blues away from home. The odds may be turning in Monk and Birmingham’s favour for the first time in a long while.
A lot of pundits predicted early in the season that Sheffield United would not be able to keep up the level they were playing at and they did begin to drop off in 2018. However, the Yorkshire club are still in the race for a playoff place and a game against a tricky Forest side could go a long way in seeing if Chris Wilder’s men have what it takes to overhaul the teams above them.
Most Sunderland fans are resigned to relegation now, and the club, behind the scenes, are preparing for League One. But they do still have slim hopes of staying in the division. Those slim hopes may be dashed this weekend when the ruthless Preston North End arrive at the Stadium of Light. North End are still in the playoff conversation and have had a good season under Alex Neil in sharp contrast to the calamity that is Sunderland Football Club.
Cardiff are unbeaten in the league since New Year’s Day and have won their last 7 games in a row. In the last month or so, they have taken themselves from being playoff contenders to being possible title contenders and they will know the importance of getting a good result against Derby County this weekend.
The Rams have gone in completely opposite direction and are struggling to keep hold of their playoff position. They would love to give the Welshmen a bloody nose this weekend.
With only 4 games in the Premier League this weekend, the focus will turn to the Championship. A lot of people who usually just watch the Premier League will turn their focus to the league below this weekend to run the rule over the promotion contenders and try and predict who will be joining the big boys next season.
There will be a lot of media focus on Wolves this week as they take on a lowly Burton Albion and expect them to get a lot of praise if they beat the Brewers as expected.