Congratulations to West Brom for securing promotion with three games to go.They are well behind Newcastle in the championship race, but it is still a fine achievement. They have done it in a typically West Brom way; playing good, entertaining football. Now the Baggies fans will be hoping it’s not Boing Boing this time; they’ll be hoping it’s just a Boing.
They have been the ultimate yo-yo team in recent years and they’ll be hoping to find the resources to stay in the Premier League this time. Money is tight at The Hawthorns, but Roberto Di Matteo has already started sounding out potential targets and will be hoping to find a couple of bargains. The 3-2 victory at Doncaster was typical of their season and featured their 100th goal of the campaign. There is no disgrace in finishing second to an experienced Newcastle team and they are well worthy of their promotion.
The question now is who will join them? I would say Nottingham Forest, Cardiff and Leicester are safe in the play-offs. Leicester were on a bad run, but they’ve turned it around sufficiently and I think they’ve done enough. But with only two wins from 10 games, Swansea are a target for the sides below them. Both Blackpool and Middlesbrough are looking to beat them to that sixth spot.
Looking at the fixtures, Blackpool have an easier run in. They play Forest and Bristol City at home – and their home form has been good this year – and in between that is a trip to Peterborough. Meanwhile Boro have away games against West Brom and Leicester – plus a home game against Coventry. They will have to do something special to get enough points from those away games. If anybody is to knock Swansea off their perch, I ultimately think it will be Blackpool. However, the Swans have a nice home game against Barnsley and I do think a victory there would leave them in a good position.
Sheffield Wednesday saw another game slip away with no points against Middlesbrough, but maybe a derby game against Sheffield United is the best thing for them. Look at Tottenham. After their disappointment against Portsmouth, they were able to drag out a performance against their local rivals Arsenal. Wednesday have had the Indian sign over the Blades in recent seasons and derby days are always one-offs.
There’s more riding on it for Wednesday as United have nothing to play for in the league, so perhaps Wednesday start as favourites? But they are in a desperate situation in the relegation zone with three games left. I would say QPR are safe now, so it’s between Wednesday, Crystal Palace, Scunthorpe and Watford for the one relegation spot above Plymouth and Peterborough. There’s three points between those four teams and anything could happen.
Scunthorpe and Watford both have a game in hand on their rivals – and they are able to score more goals – so I think that might see them safe. In my opinion, it’s between Palace and Wednesday now. Palace are a point better off but that devastating loss against Neil Warnock’s QPR has really damaged their hopes.