With two games in four days, the Easter period can define the season for many Sky Bet Championship clubs at the top and bottom and so we go through the various promotion and relegation permutations.
With Easter delivering 50% of the remaining four games we can expect the drama, entertainment and nerves this whole wonderful Sky Bet Championship season has delivered to continue over the next four days.
This is the time when things start to get settled – the potential, hope, expectation and fear can become reality – either glorious or painful.
Leaders Norwich City will be promoted if they win their matches against Sheffield Wednesday and Stoke City.
Sheffield United cannot afford anymore slip ups if they are to go up automatically, as they take on Nottingham Forest and Hull City. In fact, if they are beaten by Forest on Friday, then Norwich will be promoted with victory over Wednesday.
Leeds United know two victories over Wigan and Brentford, with the Blades dropping more than three points will also see them up. But one thing we know is that the Bees love to beat Leeds at Griffin Park. You have to go back to 1950 for the last time Leeds were victorious at Brentford.
At the bottom Easter represents Bolton’s last chance to raise again. 10 points adrift they need two wins over Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers to have any chance of surviving. Otherwise Easter will see them relegated back to Sky Bet League One, with defeat to Villa on Friday officially confirming that.
- Friday April 19 - Norwich win and Sheffield United lose – Norwich are promoted
Monday April 22
- If Norwich win on both Friday and Monday they are promoted
- If Sheffield United lost or drew on Friday, then Norwich only need to draw to be promoted
- If Norwich win both matches and BOTH Leeds United and Sheffield United drop four points or more EACH from the two matches – Norwich City are Champions
- If Leeds win on both Friday and Monday and Sheffield United drop more than their points from their two matches - Leeds will be promoted
- If Bolton lose to Aston Villa on Friday they will be relegated
- If Bolton pick up less than four points over their two games they will be relegated
- If Rotherham United lose both matches over Easter and Millwall, Reading and Wigan win their two matches, Rotherham will be relegated
We now know James Shan will guide West Brom until the end of the season, and that focus is key for their promotion charge – Hull and Reading will present their challenges over the Bank Holiday weekend.
Reading have really impressed in recent weeks to slightly move away from the relegation zone thanks to excellent results against Norwich and Brentford and that good form will be tested to the max against Bristol City and the Baggies.
Don’t write off Hull for a play-off push either – five points off it currently. Two statement wins over their promotion rivals WBA and the Blades would put them right in the mix.
Aston Villa are their best run since 1975, having won eight on the bounce, and go into Easter flying. Facing sides at the bottom in Bolton and Millwall will present major challenges, with the Lions unbeaten against the Villains since 1990.
Derby have been beautiful at home to watch in recent weeks – scoring 10 goals in two games – so QPR on Monday will need to be on their metal at the back. Birmingham on Friday away will be an interesting affair, with the Blues back in form with back-to-back wins and County not having won away in the league in 2019.
Middlesbrough have finally arrested their slide down the table and, just one point off the top six. Clashes with sides building for next season in Stoke and Nottingham Forest will truly show if they are back in form or not.
Bristol City have continued to go about their business quietly and successively as they hold on to the final play-off spot, victories over Reading and a Sheffield Wednesday side now preparing for next season would go a long way towards securing a top six spot.
Back to the relegation scrap and Rotherham United’s fighting point at Stoke showed they will not give up on survival until the last second of the season. Swansea and Birmingham stand in their way of earning vital points.
Wigan were go good against the leaders, and arguably unlucky not to take all three points. So, they can take confidence into Easter. However Leeds away looks daunting for a team that’s only won once away this season, so a derby with Preston on Monday might be their best chance of points to stay out of the drop zone.
Sadly, we said goodbye to Ipswich last weekend, a side that have been in the top two tiers since 1954. The will want to leave the league with their head held high and with better performances of late they will continue to fight as they take on Preston and Swansea, two club who you’d expect to make promotion pushes next season.
With just seven points between first and third; six dividing third and eighth; five points separating ninth and sixth; and four points between 22nd and 19th, Easter will prove to be the defining period of this wonderful Sky Bet Championship campaign.
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