The Championship: How things stand for its return

With the Championship set to make its long-awaited return on June 20, Matthew Crist looks at how things stand ahead of the final nine fixtures.

Matthew Crist

The Championship season will resume on Saturday with Fulham’s match against Brentford the first fixture since the season was suspended following the Coronavirus outbreak.

It will be the first second-tier English game played since March 8th when Derby beat Blackburn 3-0 in the final Championship game to be played before elite football in England was suspended for 12-weeks.

We can then look forward to two full rounds of fixtures each week until the final matches of the regular season, which are set to be played on Wednesday, 22 July.

So in case you’ve lost track of how things stand in the Championship, let us refresh your memory.

The Title Race

Leeds United

Heading into the final nine rounds of Championship fixtures, both Leeds United and West Brom are separated by just a single point at the top of the table.

Marco Bielsa’s men rediscovered their form in February after a shaky festive period,  managing to keep five consecutive clean sheets before the break and now prepare to return to action against Cardiff on Sunday.

Though Leeds will be relieved to see that four of their remaining nine matches against relegation-threatened sides, they will be more than aware that late-season stumbles have cost them dearly on a number of occasions before, so will be taking nothing for granted.

The Baggies, currently occupying second place behind Leeds, have won just two of their last five Championship fixtures, but do have a six-point cushion on the sides below them.

They do still have to face West London duo Fulham and Brentford who are in the chasing pack but can take confidence in the fact that they have conceded just one goal in their last four outings.

The Playoff Picture


Fulham were many people’s favourites to secure promotion back to the Premier League this season, but with a six-point gap to bridge, the Cottagers could be the side to beat in the play-offs this summer.

Scott Parker’s men have suffered just a single defeat since January 1st and will be expected to continue where they left off this weekend knowing they still have to travel to Elland Road, the Hawthorns and the City Ground, and a final day visit to the DW Stadium.

Thomas Frank’s Brentford have been extremely easy on the eye, particularly at Griffin Park but the Bees look like they will also fall short and have to gain promotion vis the playoffs, even so, that still might not be enough to keep hold of the much-coveted duo Said Benrahma and Ollie Watkins.

Nottingham Forest have their fate in their hands in fifth but are the lowest scorers in the top six and have won just one of their last six Championship matches, although they do have a number of winnable games to come – on paper at least.

Preston are currently clinging onto the final play-off spot although their 2020 form is quite concerning, having lost five of their 12 matches this calendar year, and keeping just a single clean sheet since mid-January. Their home form is superb, however,  with only Brentford, QPR and West Brom having scored more goals on their own patch this season.

Those in contention to make a late charge include Bristol City, who are just a point behind Alex Neil’s side, Cardiff and Millwall and Blackburn, who will no doubt be looking to capitalise on any potential slip-ups from the two sides directly above them.

The Relegation battle

Barnsley’s Championship future is starting to look extremely bleak. The South Yorkshire side are seven points adrift of safety, and with visits to Elland Road and Griffin Park still left on the schedule, they look nailed on for an instant return to League One.

Luton used the break to make a managerial switch with Nathan Jones returning to Kenilworth Road at the end of May and though the Hatters have lost just one of their last six matches in February and March,  with the division’s worst defence by some way, the Welshman will still have a job on his hands avoiding the drop.

Charlton are just two points from safety and have lost eight of their last 13 Championship matches, not finding the net in any of their last three games, so with Chris Solly, David Davis and Lyle Taylor all refusing to play again this season in a bid to stay fit ahead of the summer transfer window Lee bowyer faces a tough task to keep the Addicks up.

Grant McCann’s Hull City are without a win in their last 11 matches, though the East Yorkshire side will face four of their relegation rivals during the run-in, not to mention trips to West Brom and Bristol City too.

Despite having a nine-point cushion over the bottom three, Sheffield Wednesday can’t relax just yet having recorded just one victory since beating Leeds on January 11th while other sides in danger include; Middlesbrough, Stoke and Huddersfield.

So with just eight points separating the team at the bottom and the seemingly safe position of 16th – which is currently occupied by Birmingham City – the relegation dogfight looks sure to go to the wire once again.

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