Most Read Football

Get all the latest football gossip from the day's back pages
1

Paper Talk: Chelsea's Coutinho

Chelsea chasing Barcelona's Philippe Coutinho is one of the transfer rumours doing the round in Tuesday's Paper Talk.

Sporting Life's Premier League preview package2

Premier League betting preview

Tuesday sees two games in the Premier League as Tottenham welcome Brighton and Watford take on Southampton. We have two best bets.

=?UTF-8?Q?Burnley=E2=80=99s_Ashley_Barnes_celebrates?=3

Chelsea misfire in top-four battle

Maurizio Sarri was sent to the stands as Chelsea blew a big chance to stake their Champions League claim by slipping to a 2-2 Premier League draw with Burnley.

Check out today's Paper Talk4

Paper Talk: Lukaku leaving?

Juventus are eyeing Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku with Manchester United happy to listen to offers - get all the latest from today's back pages.

Sergi Canos celebrates his goal against Leeds5

Loss effectively ends Leeds' hopes

Brentford dealt Leeds' hopes of an automatic return to the Premier League a hammer blow with a thrilling 2-0 win at Griffin Park.

Sky Bet Championship: A week-by-week look at the title race with Norwich City, Sheffield United and Leeds United battling for first

Our look at the Sky Bet Championship title race
Our look at the Sky Bet Championship title race

The international break signals a quick pause to proceedings in the Sky Bet Championship - allowing us to catch our breaths following an intense yet exciting few weeks.

The title race looks like it will be a three-horse race. Norwich are starting to pull ahead at the top and find themselves in an incredibly strong position to go on and finish first.

Sheffield United edged Leeds in their meeting last time out, allowing them to overtake the Whites into second favourites and take the lead in the battle for automatic promotion.

As both managers were keen to stress though, there is still plenty of football yet to be played. The Blades hold a one-point advantage with a massive 24 still on offer in the final eight games.

This season has seen plenty of twists and turns with a number of surprise results along the way. Norwich started slowly but have improved drastically while Sheffield United continue to go from strength-to-strength in their second season back in England's second tier.

For Leeds, the high profile appointment of Marcelo Bielsa has played a significant part in their current position. They are still in the running despite a remarkable injury list that has left them without a fully-fit first-team squad for the majority of the campaign.

Football is hard to call, especially in the most unpredictable division in world football. However, could we work out the two teams who will go up automatically by assessing it on a game-by-game basis?

Of course, it's a prediction based on what we know with eight games remaining. A lot changes between now and May and teams can hit form, while also finding results hard to come-by despite looking strong at the moment.

There's also the fact that football is sometimes, in the nicest possible way, odd. A team who have struggled for 40 games can suddenly grab victories in their last six as they look to battle the drop - while teams at the top can feel the pressure with the intensity of the chasing pack.

Therefore, the situation could be drastically difference when it comes to opposition as the games tick away. Despite that, based on what we've witnessed in the 38 games so far, we can try and create a judgement on what results we could see.

Here, our Sky Bet EFL man Tom Carnduff gives us his predictions.

Jack Harrison scores a late equaliser for Leeds against Millwall
Jack Harrison scores a late equaliser for Leeds against Millwall

Eight games remaining

  • Norwich - Middlesbrough (A)
  • Sheffield United - Bristol City (H)
  • Leeds - Millwall (H)

A fixture Leeds would have wanted following a big defeat before an international break. Even with goalkeeper Kiko Casilla suspended and defender Pontus Jansson injured, the Whites should view this one as victory. So too should Sheffield United with Bristol City's poor form knocking them out of the play-off positions. Norwich may drop points though despite Middlesbrough struggling for results recently. Boro have picked up points against the top teams when playing at home and will hope for the same here.

Table

  1. Norwich - 79pts
  2. Sheffield United - 77pts
  3. Leeds - 76pts
Birmingham beat Leeds at Elland Road
Birmingham beat Leeds at Elland Road

Seven games remaining

  • Norwich - QPR (H)
  • Sheffield United - Preston (A)
  • Leeds - Birmingham (A)

The easiest fixture goes to Norwich who should get past QPR with ease. The R's have struggled for results in the second-half of the season and they will have little chance at Carrow Road. Leeds can also capitalise on Birmingham's poor form, with Garry Monk's men dropping out of play-off contention. Reports say they could face a 12-point deduction before that game too. For Sheffield United, in-form Preston could grab another win in their quest for the top-six. Defeat is rare for the Blades, but Deepdale will be a tough venue for every team between now and May.

Table

  1. Norwich - 82pts
  2. Leeds - 79pts
  3. Sheffield United - 77pts
Daniel Farke: The Norwich boss has been rewarded with a new contract after an impressive second season at Carrow Road
Norwich boss Daniel Farke

Six games remaining

  • Norwich - Reading (H)
  • Sheffield United - Birmingham (A)
  • Leeds - Preston (A)

Another easy one for Norwich against relegation candidates Reading. Farke's side should dispatch of the Royals with little issue and grab another three points to push themselves ahead. Leeds and Sheffield United switch fixtures from the previous week but there is a case for Leeds getting something at Preston. They've lost just two of their ten games away at sides currently in the top-half, with Preston the final team to play. The Blades grab victory at St. Andrews.

Table

  1. Norwich - 85pts
  2. Sheffield United - 80pts (goal difference advantage)
  3. Leeds - 80pts
Chris Wilder: Delight for the Sheffield United boss
Sheffield United's Chris Wilder

Five games remaining

  • Norwich - Wigan (A)
  • Sheffield United - Millwall (H)
  • Leeds - Sheffield Wednesday (H)

Another week, another relegation candidate for Norwich as they go to Wigan. However, they may have to settle for a point here given Athletic's home record. They've beaten the likes of Sheffield Wednesday, Bristol City, West Brom and Aston Villa at the DW this season and will be confident of another point here. Sheffield United and Leeds may also see draws in their fixtures. Millwall's strength in the air may snatch something at Bramall Lane, while Steve Bruce's Owls will be battling for the play-offs and can grab a point at Elland Road.

Table

  1. Norwich - 86pts
  2. Sheffield United - 81pts (goal difference advantage)
  3. Leeds - 81pts
Nottingham Forest beat Sheffield United in November
Nottingham Forest beat Sheffield United in November

Four games remaining

  • Norwich - Sheffield Wednesday (H)
  • Sheffield United - Nottingham Forest (H)
  • Leeds - Wigan (H)

This is the part of the season where all three teams will play home or away on the same matchday. Game 42 presents three interesting home ties, with Leeds being the most confident of victory here. They take on a Wigan side who have struggled on the road and it will be viewed as a must-win by Bielsa's men. For Norwich, promotion-hopefuls Wednesday will be optimistic that they can steal another point, as they would have done at Leeds, while the Blades should get the better of Nottingham Forest if they remain outside of the top-six.

Table

  • Norwich - 87pts
  • Sheffield United - 84pts (goal difference advantage)
  • Leeds - 84pts
Emi Buendia celebrates
Emi Buendia celebrates

Three games remaining

  • Norwich - Stoke (A)
  • Sheffield United - Hull (A)
  • Leeds - Brentford (A)

Three tricky away ties where two of the teams should drop points. Norwich can charge on with another victory against a Stoke outfit who haven't got going under two different managers this season. Hull's strong home form means Wilder's Blades will have to settle for a point while Brentford is a fixture where Leeds could come unstuck given their upturn in the second part of the campaign.

Table

  • Norwich - 90pts
  • Sheffield United - 85pts
  • Leeds - 84pts
Leeds celebrate Pontus Jansson's goal at Villa Park
Leeds celebrate Pontus Jansson's goal at Villa Park

Two games remaining

  • Norwich - Blackburn (H)
  • Sheffield United - Ipswich (H)
  • Leeds - Aston Villa (H)

Two fairly straightforward home games for the top-two, although Leeds could slip-up again as Aston Villa visit. Blackburn will not prove to be a tough test for Norwich while Ipswich will be long-relegated by the time they travel to Bramall Lane. For Leeds, Villa's attacking power could be problematic and they may have to settle for another point here, which would all-but-bring to an end the race for automatic promotion.

Table

  1. Norwich - 93pts
  2. Sheffield United - 88pts
  3. Leeds - 85pts
Jordan Rhodes celebrates scoring against Aston Villa
Jordan Rhodes celebrates scoring against Aston Villa

Final game

  • Norwich - Aston Villa (A)
  • Sheffield United - Stoke (A)
  • Leeds - Ipswich (A)

This could be a crucial game for Aston Villa as victory could wrap up a play-off place for them, having likely picked up something at Leeds the week before. Norwich may well have already wrapped up the title but they could suffer due to the importance of the fixture for the opposition. Victories expected for Leeds and Sheffield United as they look to finish the regular campaign on a high.

Table

  • Norwich - 93pts
  • Sheffield United - 91pts
  • Leeds - 88pts
Pablo Hernandez scores for Leeds away at Sheffield United
Pablo Hernandez scores for Leeds away at Sheffield United

What if history repeats itself?

Now, what if we see a repeat of results in the reverse fixtures? The points return being the exact same as it has been against teams in these final eight games.

The team to benefit will be Leeds, who will be more than satisfied if it turned out exactly like that. They've beaten four of the eight teams they are left to play, a points return of 15 from a possible 24.

It would still leave Bielsa's men on 88 points - but that would be enough to see them secure a return to the Premier League via automatic promotion.

For Sheffield United, they'd secure 50% of the points on offer, with victories against Preston, Millwall and Hull coming earlier in the campaign.

They were only beaten by Bristol City and Nottingham Forest, but the presence of an extra victory for Leeds would see them promoted with two points more. The Blades finishing on 86.

Norwich would fall just shy of the century mark. Stoke are the only side to beat them, a Timm Klose own goal the difference in a 1-0 victory for the Potters in October.

Every other game would end in victory though, meaning they'd win the title with a massive eleven-point gap over second-placed Leeds.

Many referred to Wolves last season as one of the best teams this division has seen. However, Norwich would match the Molineux outfit's points tally last season if it played out like this.

Table

  1. Norwich - 99pts
  2. Leeds - 88pts
  3. Sheffield United - 86pts
Norwich celebrate Teemu Pukki's goal at Millwall
Norwich celebrate Teemu Pukki's goal at Millwall

What are the odds?

Title sponsors Sky Bet make Norwich the clear favourites, with Sheffield United just edging Leeds in the market.

Sky Bet Championship winner (odds via Sky Bet)

  • Norwich - 1/2
  • Sheffield United - 3/1
  • Leeds - 5/1

However, if it came to the play-offs and Leeds were involved as expected, they would find themselves as the second-favourites behind West Brom.

Sky Bet Championship play-off winner (odds via Sky Bet)


Odds correct at 1425 GMT (18/03/19)

Follow Sporting Life on social media - find us on Facebook here or tweet @SportingLifeFC

Related football links

Like what you've read?
Help your friends Know It All by sharing this article to your social media.

Most Read Football

Get all the latest football gossip from the day's back pages
1

Paper Talk: Chelsea's Coutinho

Chelsea chasing Barcelona's Philippe Coutinho is one of the transfer rumours doing the round in Tuesday's Paper Talk.

Sporting Life's Premier League preview package2

Premier League betting preview

Tuesday sees two games in the Premier League as Tottenham welcome Brighton and Watford take on Southampton. We have two best bets.

=?UTF-8?Q?Burnley=E2=80=99s_Ashley_Barnes_celebrates?=3

Chelsea misfire in top-four battle

Maurizio Sarri was sent to the stands as Chelsea blew a big chance to stake their Champions League claim by slipping to a 2-2 Premier League draw with Burnley.

Check out today's Paper Talk4

Paper Talk: Lukaku leaving?

Juventus are eyeing Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku with Manchester United happy to listen to offers - get all the latest from today's back pages.

Sergi Canos celebrates his goal against Leeds5

Loss effectively ends Leeds' hopes

Brentford dealt Leeds' hopes of an automatic return to the Premier League a hammer blow with a thrilling 2-0 win at Griffin Park.

Football Tips

Sporting Life's Premier League preview package

Premier League betting preview

Tuesday sees two games in the Premier League as Tottenham welcome Brighton and Watford take on Southampton. We have two best bets.

A view of Uttoxeter racecourse

Our best bets

Check out Sporting Life's best bets across racing, football and more.

Three Musketeers begins his winning run at Aintree

Sporting Life Tipping Record

A look at how the Sporting Life recommended bets have performed in April 2019.