The penultimate Championship fixtures approach us and it has been as ever a tightly contested league although that doesn’t apply to the automatic spots where Newcastle United and Brighton have already secured promotion to the Premier League for the next campaign. However the focus now switches to the play-off race where positions are all up for grabs despite it potentially being done and dusted by the end of today. Finally the relegation battle involves a few teams who could exit the Championship to League One which means the pressure is going to be at its highest. I take a look at the 3 games you’ll want to pay attention to today which could drastically effect the league.
- Blackburn Rovers vs Aston Villa
This is a monumental game for Blackburn Rovers football club. They sit two points adrift and with a possibility their fate could be sealed today, Rovers will know this is their chance of gaining three points to massively help their cause. The interest in this one lies with the opponents Aston Villa who have nothing to play for but in fact a loss for Steve Bruce’s side could heavily damage the Villain’s fiercest rivals Birmingham City who face Huddersfield at home. You can talk about the professionalism of the Villa side all you want but there is no doubting this could play a pivotal factor in this match, it’s certainly an odd circumstance to almost find a side wanting to lose however this means it’s the golden chance for Rovers to come up against a potentially unmotivated side and a fan base that doesn’t know where to stand. Either way Villa have some top Championship talent in their ranks including the return of Jonathan Kodjia so it’s now or never at Ewood Park. I think you’re going to have to see a very composed Blackburn side this afternoon, if they go all out for the win I feel they could be sucker punched quite easily. They need to first of all give nothing away at the back, stay concentrated, press high and deliver quality in the crucial moments. You feel it has to be three points for Blackburn.
2. Leeds United vs Norwich City
The decisive play-off match as seventh place Leeds host Norwich City. The key here is that a loss for Leeds would all but tie up the whole play-off places with 6th place Fulham possessing a far greater goal difference 3 points ahead. That in itself means Monk and his side can solely focus on themselves knowing a win keeps their hopes alive as they can realistically catch 3 clubs above them which should breed confidence. They face a Norwich side directly below them that once again have nothing to play for. That is ideal however they will be coming up against a side who have under-performed to say the least this season and are another threatening side on the face of it meaning it could take a big effort at Elland Road. I believe the energy of the crowd and a high tempo performance from the hosts could suffocate Norwich, that’s what they’ll be hoping for, now it’s time to deliver.
3. QPR vs Nottingham Forest
A key clash in the relegation battle, both of these sides are in danger of being dragged into the scrap quite easily. It would take a defeat for QPR today and next week, 2 Blackburn wins and 4 points for Birmingham from their final 2 to see QPR relegated, so as unlikely as that is nothing can be left to chance. That is why you’d expect a nervy Loftus Road for both sides where Nottingham Forest have a real possibility of being in the relegation zone by the end of today. A win would all but secure their Championship status in what is another crunch match. Their away form is nothing short of horrific so something will have to change if they are to make life a lot easier for themselves. On the flip side QPR are trying to end a run of six straight defeats which would suggest the first goal will be crucial. Whoever can hold their nerve and execute the game plan should be walking away with three points here.
What are your predictions for this match? Which other games do we need to watch out for? Let us know in the comments below!
featured image by David Locke