With Premier League trophy looking likely to head to London in May, less can be said about where the Championship trophy will end up. Bournemouth, Watford, Norwich City and Middlesbrough separated by just two points and with the top four all guaranteed at least a playoff place, it is just the matter of who will finish where. Extraordinarily though the final run in only sees two of the top four battle it out. Friday 17th April sees Norwich City host Middlesbrough in a game where the winner will find themselves top of the league albeit only till Saturday tea time.
Whilst Norwich who recently lost to Wigan in what seems to be a rare defeat, the same could not be said for Middlesbrough whose early season pasting of the Canaries, seems to be a long way a way. They will hope to avoid another defeat to their rivals having already lost to Bournemouth and Watford in the last ten games. Middlesbrough though despite having conceded ten in the last eleven games, still have the tightest defence in the top four but it is the scoring of goals that is the north east club’s problem. They have only bagged 64 goals compared to the likes of Watford, Norwich and Bournemouth, who are 80 plus in the scoring column.
Whilst there are few games that involve the relegation battlers, the other clubs that the top four face will still all be playing for pride, so it is going to be a tricky one to call. I believe though that one of the automatic promotion places will go to Bournemouth with their first visit to the top flight. It will certainly be a turnaround for the club who narrowly avoided relegation from the football league in 2009.
With two play off spots already guaranteed, another mini battle takes place. Derby County, Ipswich, Wolves and Brentford separated by four points, face a battle for two play off spots. Derby and Ipswich are currently in the driving seat with three games to go. In reality Derby County should have really been challenging for automatic promotion and even the title, but a run of seven games without a win including four defeats has consigned them to the playoff route hope.
Ipswich Town face a trip to playoff rivals Wolves. For the Suffolk side they are in the position that means a win or draw keeps their playoff hopes in their control. A draw might also consign Wolves to another season of Championship football. A win for Wolves and its very much game on as Wolves will move level with Ipswich.
Brentford face a somewhat easier run in as they will play Blackburn Bolton and Wigan, but of course in football there are no easy games, especially when you have something to play for, but whilst fans of clubs involved will be twitchy, for the neutrals it will be an interesting run in and possibly one of the closest for a few seasons.