This weekend brings the penultimate match day of the 2018/19 Championship season, and leaders Norwich City need just a point to secure automatic promotion to the Premier League.
Elsewhere, the race for the final play-off position is hotting up, with the three clubs chasing sixth place separated by just a point.
Here, we preview the three standout games from this weekend’s action in English football’s second tier.
Norwich City vs Blackburn Rovers
Daniel Farke’s Canaries are already effectively assured of a place in the Premier League next season, top of the table and six points ahead of third-placed Leeds United.
Although it is still mathematically possible for Leeds to usurp Norwich and knock them out of the top two, the fact the leaders hold a much superior goal difference makes such a scenario as good as impossible.
However, Norwich have the opportunity to put the matter beyond any doubt whatsoever on Saturday evening when they host Blackburn at Carrow Road. The Canaries need only a point against their 14th-placed visitors to cement their top-two status.
Norwich find Blackburn, promoted from League One last season, riding a hot streak of form, though, with Rovers having won four on the bounce.
And the leaders themselves have been stuttering of late, drawing each of their last four games. A fifth draw in a row would be just fine with those inside Carrow Road on Saturday, though.
Bristol City vs Derby County
Eighth hosts sixth on Saturday afternoon, as Frank Lampard’s Derby County – to give them their full name – travel to Ashton Gate to take on Bristol City, just two places and one point behind them in the Championship table.
Lampard has impressed at Pride Park this season in his first ever campaign as a manager, and his side have been free-scoring of late, netting an incredible 17 goals in their last six games.
Keeping them out has been a little bit of an issue, however, with the Rams shipping eight in that time, a period which includes a 3-3 draw with Brentford, a 2-0 defeat to Blackburn and a 2-2 draw with Birmingham.
After a run of 13 league games without defeat between December and February, Bristol City have been desperately inconsistent in recent weeks, beaten six times in their last 13 games, with just three wins in that time.
Leeds United vs Aston Villa
Sunday’s game at Elland Road brings together two sides experiencing different fortunes of late.
Leeds, who have occupied an automatic-promotion position for much of the season, have slipped to third and look certain to have to earn promotion the hard way via the play-offs if they are to manufacture a return to the top flight.
With three defeats in their last five games, Marcelo Bielsa’s men are being accused of having run out of steam, fatigued at the end of a long, hard campaign under a manager who demands the utmost intensity from his charges.
However, Leeds have outplayed and outshot their opponents by and large even through this difficult period, lacking only a killer touch in front of goal and the rub of the green.
Villa are on a tear. The Midlanders are unbeaten in 12 games, with 11 wins on the bounce.
Dean Smith’s men look like serious promotion contenders in the season’s play-offs thanks to the momentum they have built and their invaluable knack of grinding out wins even when not playing at their best.
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