The Championship relegation battle looks set to go to a final-day showdown between Crystal Palace and Sheffield Wednesday. The bottom line is the Owls need to win one of their final two games. I don’t think a pair of draws will keep them up so they must try to beat either Cardiff on Saturday or Palace on the final day.
Personally, I can’t see Wednesday winning in Wales and I can’t see Palace beating West Brom either. So my belief is that it will all come down to that big fixture on May 2.
Watford are not out of danger and they are certainly on the crest of a slump. They can’t buy a win, but are two points clear of Wednesday with a better goal difference.
I don’t think Watford will get anything from Reading on Saturday, but if the two teams below them both lose then they will be safe anyway. I can see the points tally remaining the same for all three teams going into the final day.
Before the 2-0 defeat against QPR, Palace had taken seven points from nine and that run of form could ultimately prove enough to keep them up. Let’s remember, Palace are in this position by default. They are not one of the four worst teams in the division; they are simply suffering from a 10-point deduction.
Wednesday have won just one in 10 – against Watford – and the only thing going for them is their home form. Having lost just five at home, there is some hope. They may have only picked up one point from the Sheffield derby, but at this stage any point is a good point.
It will be so finely balanced as Palace and Wednesday drew 0-0 in the corresponding fixture earlier this season. However, I think Palace’s extra point and superior goal difference will help to see Wednesday off.
The other big battle is between Swansea and Blackpool for the play-offs. Blackpool are playing remarkably well; they’ve only lost one game in seven (against a rampant Newcastle) and have scored 19 goals in that time. Charlie Adam has been on fire and DJ Campbell has proved a great loan singing.
Ian Holloway will probably be given the Manager of the Season award whether his team snatches sixth spot or not. His achievements have been immeasurable when you consider the size of Blackpool’s budget.
I can see them picking up a full quota of six points from Peterborough and Bristol City – and that means Swansea will have to pull out all of the stops. Swansea have won two of the last three after winning only one of seven prior to that. They are still holding on to sixth place and the end of the season would be a good time to find a bit of form. However, I don’t think their games against Sheffield United and Doncaster will be easy.
I wrote a few weeks ago that Blackpool were the only side capable of challenging the top six and that looks to be the case. Reading and Middlesbrough fans argued differently but both of those sides have fallen short.
Blackpool have maintained the momentum and if they can win their next two games I think they’ll leapfrog into the play-offs.