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Time to speculate promotion scenarios

By | 22nd March 2011

With eight games left in the League Championship, it is time to start the speculation concerning the new clubs we might be seeing in the Premiership next season.

Queens Park Rangers are every one’s favorites to win the Championship and secure automatic promotion into the Premier League. They currently sit nine points clear above Norwich City at the top of the Championship table. Although leading by a healthy margin, manager Neil Warnock is refusing to get carried away.  

“I’d love to win the next five games and wrap it all up, but I’m sure there will be a few twists and turns before the end of the season,” he said.  

QPR took particular advantage of the transfer window to add three players to the club that should strengthen them for this final push. Wayne Routledge and Ismael Miller were signed on loan for the rest of the season and Pascal Chimbonda on a six month contract from Blackburn Rovers. If they can maintain their current form and win one or two tough games, they shouldn’t have any difficulty cruising into the Premier League.

Sitting below QPR in the table is Norwich City. Managed by former Colchester manager Paul Lambert, Norwich occupy second place precariously by just one point. They are currently on an eight game unbeaten run and look strong contenders to take that second automatic promotion spot.  

However, Hull managed to slightly dent Norwich’s Premier League aspirations by holding them to a draw at the KC Stadium. Lambert was left fuming at the referee, Rob Shoebridge, for denying Norwich a potential match-winning penalty.  

“I don’t know how the ref missed that penalty,” he said. Nevertheless, he hailed his team’s performance away from home. “But I’m delighted with the players and to pick up a point away from home could be massive for us come the end of the season.”  

Norwich still have to play Swansea and Nottingham Forest, two clubs that are very close behind. They will have to maintain their form and consistency to secure automatic promotion. Furthermore they must do this without any ‘big-name stars’ as Paul Lambert stated.

The next four playoff spots are filled by Swansea, Cardiff, Leeds, and Nottingham Forest, respectively. Swansea are in a strong position, sitting only one point back of Norwich City, but with a better goal difference in the fight for automatic promotion.

Saturday saw Swansea play Nottingham forest in a hard-fought affair that swung the Welsh side’s way after a brace for on loan striker Fabio Borini. Swansea is followed in the table by Cardiff, who sit three points back. An interesting fact is that if Cardiff and Swansea both win promotion, there will be two Welsh teams in the Premier League next season.  

However, Cardiff are looking hard-pressed to mount a challenge as they have suffered from a run of poor form – two draws and two losses in four games – as well as some unfortunate injuries. Their top scorer, Jay Bothroyd, had to leave the match against Millwall on Saturday after he pulled a hamstring.  

Fellow striker Micheal Chopra was also ruled out for the rest of the season, throwing Cardiff into an injury crisis with numerous other players sustaining injuries as well.

Leeds and Nottingham forest occupy the other two playoff spots and find themselves in a tough position to challenge the three teams above. Both Leeds and Forest suffered losses over the weekend and are set to play each other in two weeks. It is fair to say that the winner of that contest may have a chance at the automatic promotion place.  

Meanwhile, the loser will most likely have to settle for the playoffs. Outside the top six spots sit seven teams who are within six points of Nottingham Forest. Even these times are capable of challenging for a playoff spot given a good run of form.

Needless to say, there are eight matches left and 24 points up for grabs. It’s going to be a dramatic end to the Championship and we are most likely going to see some teams in the Premier League that we haven’t seen there in a while. QPR will most likely win the Championship outright and by a solid margin too. 

Swansea have a solid young squad with some experienced players as well, and are well-positioned to finish second in the Championship. 

When it comes to the playoffs, Leeds may have what it takes to make it to the Premier League. It would certainly be nice to see Leeds back in the top flight and have some of those old rivalries reignited.

Who do you think will get promoted? Will QPR stick it through, is the Championship going to finish as is, or are there going to be some major surprises? Have your say!

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