A crucial weekend in the Championship which could be defining for so many teams who are fighting to escape relegation and for those who still have hopes and dreams of making the play-offs.
Here’s how I see it going down on Good Friday.
Luton v Nottingham Forest 12:30PM
The Good Friday fixtures start with a crunch match between Luton and Nottingham Forest. A must win game for Forest if they are to have any hope of automatic promotion, whilst Luton will be looking to cement their place in the play-off positions.
Forest go into this game with heaps of confidence, having won their last 6 championship fixtures. Even more impressive considering their good FA cup run. However, Luton are having a in a dip of form when it’s least needed. They only have 2 points from their last 9 games and will be desperate to pick up more points here.
The reverse fixtures saw both team’s share the points in a 0-0 draw. This time I would back Forest to take all 3 points in a tight game.
Prediction: Luton 0 – 1 Nottingham Forest
Bournemouth v Middlesbrough 3pm
Another huge game at 3pm see’s Bournemouth take on Middlesbrough at home. With a win, Bournemouth will pull further away in 2nd and be confident of securing automatic promotion. With Forest on their tails, now is not the time to drop points. However, that will be no easy task.
Middlesborough know that anything but 3 points means they will sit outside the play-off places after the weekend.
Middlesbrough won the reverse fixture 1-0, and I expect another tight game. Both teams must go for the win in this one, so I expect both teams to score, but eventually see a home victory.
Prediction: Bournemouth 3 – 1 Middlesbrough
Birmingham v Coventry 3pm
An optimistic Coventry fan will see the play-offs as a possibility, but they can’t afford to drop many more points like they have been doing recently. Only 1 win in their last 5 fixtures has stalled their progress into the play-off positions.
That said, I fancy them against a Birmingham team who, although are safe from relegation, don’t possess much attacking threat at all. With only 1 goal in their last 5 games, their fans will have little hope.
The reverse fixture ended goalless, which will likely happen again if Coventry’s attack doesn’t turn up.
Prediction: Birmingham 0 – 2 Coventry
Hull v Cardiff 3pm
A game where both teams find themselves near the bottom of the table, with Hull being the more frightened of the pair. They will be desperately seeking 3 points to be further clear of the relegation zone.
Cardiff, who sit more comfortably in 17th, won’t be feeling the same pressure, which may allow them to go into the game less anxiously. Added to that, with 3 wins in their last 5 games, they will be full of confidence.
Unfortunately for Hull, I don’t see their 1-0 win in the reverse fixture happening again.
Prediction: Hull 0 – 2 Cardiff
Peterborough v Blackburn 3pm
A fixture to help Blackburn get back on track?
They haven’t won in their last 3, but against the side rock bottom of the Championship it’s the perfect game to set themselves straight and get back on course to securing play-off spot.
It’s only 2 wins in 20 for Peterborough, a team clearly out of their depth in the Championship.
The reverse fixture saw Blackburn smash 4 past Peterborough in a brilliant performance. I expect similar tomorrow.
Prediction: Peterborough 1 – 4 Blackburn
Preston v Millwall 3pm
Only 4 points are between Millwall and a play-off spot, so this game might prove crucial to whether they can realistically achieve that goal.
Preston’s recent form has also given their fans a glimmer of hope. If they win this, it’ll be 3 out of 3 for the North End side and the play-offs won’t be out of sight if that form continues. Although, Preston fan’s have been in this situation before, and they know their team just can’t seem to find a way out of the Championship.
Last year this game ended 0-0. I see a very different outcome this time with lots of goals.
Prediction: Preston 3 -2 Millwall
Sheffield United v Reading 3pm
In this match, both teams will be fighting hard for the win, but for very different reasons. Reading will want to make sure they’re not a League One side next season and gaining points here will be vital in preventing that.
On the other hand, Sheffield United will be looking at becoming a Premier League side through the play-offs. They must win this one to give themselves a chance.
Sheffield won this fixture last year 1-0, and I expect a similar victory for them this time round.
Prediction: Sheffield United 2 -1 Reading
Stoke v Bristol City 3pm
This game has a lot less riding on it, although it would be hard to tell these players that.
Stoke’s Premier League dreams will have to wait another season, and Bristol look likely to survive relegation, unless something truly shocking happens to them.
Bristol beat the side who now side above them 1-0 in the reverse fixture.
For this one, I expect a free-flowing game and fancy each team to score a few.
Prediction: Stoke 2 – 2 Bristol City
Swansea v Barnsley 3pm
Swansea’s current form has seen them leap from the bottom end of the table to the middle, sitting very comfortably clear of the relegation zone. Their fans will be very thankful for the late surge of form and will be hoping to see it continue. Unfortunately for them, it’s come too late to mount a charge for the play-offs.
Barnsley on the other hand, are sat deep in the relegation zone without much hope left. Without a win in their last 3, I see this has the game their fans completely lose hope and prepare themselves for League One.
Last time out Swansea beat Barnsley 2-0 and I expect similar here.
Prediction: Swansea 3 – 0 Barnsley
West Brom v Blackpool 3pm
Despite being in 12th in the league, West Brom are only 6 points behind 7th and a play-off spot. The gap is so tight that 8 or 9 teams could still be eyeing the play-offs, and West Brom are certainly one of them. Don’t let the league positions fool you.
Although it’s mathematically possible for Blackpool to do the same, it’s more unlikely unless they find the form of their life.
Another 0-0 score line between these two last time out, hopefully a few more goals in this one!
Prediction: West Brom 2 – 1 Blackpool
Huddersfield v QPR 5:30pm
Well, what to say about QPR? A month or so ago I would have tipped them to secure a place in the play-offs, but their horrific recent form means they haven’t gained a single point in their last 5 matches.
Despite that, they are still only 4 points behind 7th and could still turn it around, but it appears that their heads just aren’t in it.
Huddersfield, sat in 3rd in the Championship, may feel that automation promotion is still possible, but if they are going to be a Premier League side next season it’ll most likely be via the play-offs.
QPR won this fixture 1-0 last time out, but I think it’ll end very differently for the away team this time.
Prediction: Huddersfield 2 – 0 QPR
Derby v Fulham 8pm
Despite Wayne Rooney’s impressive spell at Derby, their points deduction at the start of the season might prove too costly. It’s fair to say that their performances don’t reflect their league standing at all.
They’ll struggle here though, against a ruthless Fulham side who have no trouble scoring whatsoever. They already have one hand on the Championship title, and I expect them to take one step closer tomorrow.
Prediction: Derby 0 – 3 Fulham