The race to the Premier League

by James Cartwright

Robbie Brady HullConsistency – the Championship’s buzz word. It has been difficult to come by for most sides bar Cardiff. That has made the battle for the second automatic spot most intriguing.

Hull City are currently in the driving seat, recently they have shown all aspects of the game. They were absolutely dire away at Bolton and Palace in which they shipped eight goals. In their games against Birmingham and Burnley, they showed their ruthlessness and efficiency in the latter. A lot of praise has to be put on Steve Bruce for his dealings in the transfer market, David Meyler has been pulled out as real gem from his former club Sunderland.

The Egyptian signings, Gedo and Elmohamady have certainly pulled their weight about, regularly featuring in the danger Hull provide going forward. Steve Bruce spoke recently of the quality Gedo provides:

The boy Gedo showed his class. He’s an international footballer and I think he’s got 19 goals in 30 games so we know he has got quality’.

For Hull, the first week in April could not be more critical. It will make or break their season, with home games against Watford and Middlesbrough it will be a test of their promotion credentials. With their form at the KC, they could take six massive points towards promotion.

Watford are a breath of fresh air for the Championship, whatever about thoughts on their dealings with the loan market. It cannot be denied that they have been elegant. They throw away the notion of typical Championship football, playing much better football than most Premier League sides. Like Hull, the first week in April will be critical. With fixtures against Hull and Cardiff, they will have to excel in a professional manner. Gianfranco Zola recently nailed down what it takes for Watford to gain promotion:

Anything can happen, but we have to be calm and controlled.

That has been the notion of Watford’s game this season, they manipulate sides with the way they carve out victories.

Crystal Palace have turned the most heads this season with their promotion bid. One player that has very much surprised has been Glenn Murray. Unable to make an impact in his first season, this season everything he touches has turned to goals. With their exciting attacking nature, Palace are side that would be an excellent addition to the Premier League. Palace have a good run in till the end of the season, with Leicester City and Brighton the most difficult fixtures of the lot. It opens things up for a march to second place.

Leicester seemed to have the ability to storm to second place with their form in January, however due to the nature of the Championship they have fell majorly off course. Their strike-force has suffered in recent weeks, with only one goal between David Nugent and Chris Wood in last five games. It’s no wonder they are suffering. Nigel Pearson hasn’t been too upbeat about recent results as he showed after the Sheffield Wednesday game:

We looked nervy at times and at this stage of the season you don’t really want that. We have got to keep our nerve.

The last four games are punishing for Leicester: Bolton, Crystal Palace, Watford and Nottingham Forest is as difficult as it gets at Championship level.

Propping up the playoff places are Nottingham Forest, their time may come next season, but going on the form that has ignited since Billy Davies returned, automatic promotion may be a realistic pipe dream. One of the more exciting sides in the league, the pace they can break forward with is frightening. With a squad capable of pushing for promotion they certainly shouldn’t be counted out. The derby with Leicester City has taken a whole new meaning, with automatic promotion achievable for both. It could go down to the wire.

Purely for their style of play, Watford and Crystal Palace would be most suited to the top flight. The best footballing sides in the Championship, the nature of their play would be a blessing for the Premier League.

The first week in April may be the most important in Championship football this season, with Watford and Hull facing defining fixtures. Whoever comes out of the week with the most points will probably be playing Premier League football next season.

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply