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npower League

Championship Predictions: 31st March 2008

It’s getting harder and harder to predict how the Championship will finish, so for this week I’ve abandoned the BBC predictor and have taken a leaf out of Luke Skywalker’s book by trusting my instincts.

I’m not interested in the play-off picture or automatic promotion at the moment. The only thing that concerns me are the relegation places, where there are as many as seven clubs realistically fighting it out to not be the one that bags the third and final relegation place (For the purpose of this exercise I am assuming that Colchester and Scunthorpe are already down and that Preston in 15thon 53 points are safe, so apologies any U’s or Irons fans who may be reading this).

After the weekend’s round of matches the bottom of the Championship table looks like this:

  1. Blackpool (50pts)
  2. Norwich City (49pts)
  3. Coventry City (48pts)
  4. Leicester City (47pts)
  5. Barnsley (46pts)
  6. Southampton (46pts)
  7. Sheffield Wednesday (45pts)
  8. Scunthorpe United (38pts)
  9. Colchester United (33pts)

Sheffield Wednesday have a difficult run-in, playing games against five of the teams around them, play-off chasing Plymouth and the small matter of the Steel City derby:

  • Coventry (H)
  • Scunthorpe (A)
  • Sheff Utd (A)
  • Plymouth (H)
  • Blackpool (A)
  • Leicester (A)
  • Norwich (H)

Pick the bones out of that one if you dare, but I think they’ll probably pick up 8 points out of that lot, leaving them with 53 overall.

You wouldn’t want to be in Southampton‘s position at the moment with their run-in, taking on two of the leading pack and Charlton, themselves not out of the play-off race yet:

  • Bristol City (H)
  • Charlton (A)
  • Burnley (H)
  • West Brom (A)
  • Sheff Utd (H)

A haul of maybe 6 points there with wins against Burnley and Sheffield United will give the Saints 51 overall.

Barnsley will be hoping their FA Cup exploits don’t distract them from the league too much, but like the others they have some difficult games:

  • Watford (A)
  • Preston (H)
  • Hull (A)
  • Leicester (H)
  • Charlton (H)
  • Cardiff (A)

I can’t see the Tykes getting more than 5 points out of those games, which would also leave them on 51 points with a very similar goal difference to Southampton.

Leicester also have a tricky run-in, and will be hoping their home form sees them through:

  • Sheff Utd (A)
  • Colchester (H)
  • Barnsley (A)
  • Sheff Wed (H)
  • Stoke (A)

A haul of around 7 points here should see the Foxes safe on 54 points.

Keeping up? Good stuff. Next up is Coventry who, surprise surprise, have a pretty nasty run-in:

  • Sheff Wed (A)
  • Watford (A)
  • Stoke (H)
  • Colchester (A)
  • Wolves (H)
  • Charlton (A)

I think they’ll pick up 5 or maybe 6 points there, which will leave them with 53 points.

What of Norwich? Compared to some of the others our final five matches shouldn’t be quite as bad, but we’ve still got to get passed our bogey side Burnley, the East Anglian Derby, promotion machine West Brom and a potentially terrifying last day at Hillsborough.

  • Burnley (H)
  • Ipswich (A)
  • West Brom (H)
  • QPR (H)
  • Sheff Wed (A)

Realistically 6 points out of the final five games (draws against Burnley, Ipswich and Sheff Wed, and a win against QPR) and the Canaries will end with 55.

Blackpool may struggle to get more than 2 points from their final five games, which would give them a total of 52:

  • West Brom (H)
  • Cardiff (A)
  • Sheff Wed (H)
  • Plymouth (A)
    Watford (H)

There are some massive “ifs, buts and maybes” in there, but this is how I have the bottom of the Championship finishing:

  1. Norwich (55pts)
  2. Leicester (54pts)
  3. Coventry (53pts)
  4. Sheff Wed (53pts)
  5. Blackpool (52pts)
  6. Barnsley (51pts)
  7. Southampton (51pts)

It’s all change at the bottom, with Southampton now the team I have occupying the third relegation place.

The only thing we know for certain is that there are plenty more twists and turns to come. For all we know the order could be almost completely reversed, so I’ll repeat the exercise again next week.

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