The Championship is entering its final stages and the relegation battle looks as if it will go to the wire.
Rotherham currently occupy the final relegation place three points adrift of safety. Here Alex Grace looks at all the clubs involved and assesses their run ins.
Current Position: 22nd
Games Played: 43
Goal Difference: -27
Remaining Fixtures: Birmingham (H), West Brom (A), Middlesbrough (H)
Rotherham are the team that currently occupy that third and final relegation place. They sit three points behind Millwall but have a significantly worse goal difference. There is a real feeling that this could well go down to the last day and goal difference could well become crucial. Currently on -27 the Millers don’t only need to win games but they need to win them significantly. You could argue that Paul Warne’s men have the toughest run-in alongside Reading but their heart, passion and desire will mean they won’t go down without a fight.
The Millers have been fantastic on their own patch this term. Picking up 25 points from their 21 games winning seven of those. A massive help to them is that they have two fixtures at home. However, they are two tough fixtures. Birmingham are currently seven points ahead of the Millers but know defeat in Yorkshire will see them pulled right into the mix. It looks tough for the Millers after that though. A trip to West Brom is difficult at most times but especially when you have won just once away from home all season. The race for the play-offs looks set to go to the final day as well so Middlesbrough will arrive at the New York Stadium possibly needing a win to secure a top six finish. A tough run in for Millers. You just have to wonder how much that defeat at Swansea has taken out of Paul Warne’s side.
Current Position: 21st
Games Played: 42
Goal Difference: -13
Remaining Fixtures: Aston Villa (A), Stoke (H), Bristol City (H), Wigan (A)
What a difference a year makes. This time last season Millwall were in the race for a top six finish. However, this season has seen them struggle for consistency which has meant pulling away from the relegation scrap has proved difficult. Once again their form away from The Den in the first half of the campaign has been the thorn in their side. The Lions have lost 13 times away from home this season and didn’t register a win on the road until New Years Day at Ipswich. Neil Harris’s side have found form in recent weeks. They are currently on a run of four matches without defeat.
Their run in of course shows an extra game. Due to their excellent run to the FA Cup Quarter -Finals The Lions still have four games to play and that game in hand against Bristol City could prove vital. A very tough looking trip to Aston Villa is next on Easter Monday. However, two home games then follow and we all know the difference a big crowd can make at The Den. Harris will feel that those two home games are winnable and will be targeting them. Millwall need six points to guarantee Championship football at The Den next season.
Current Position: 20
Games Played: 43
Goal Difference: -16
Remaining Fixtures: Preston (H), Birmingham (A), Millwall (H)
Wigan tell a similar story to the two teams before them. They have been good at home taking 35 of their 45 points at the DW Stadium. It is their away record that has cost them dearly. Paul Cook’s men have the worst away record in the whole of the EFL winning just twice and losing 16 of their 22 games away from their own patch. However, the second of those wins arrived on Good Friday. A stunning victory at Elland Road made even more impressive considering they played nearly 80 minutes with just ten men.
Their run in does look difficult. Preston visit the DW on Easter Monday knowing they still have an outside shot of nicking as play-off place. They then travel to Birmingham who it seems will have a massive say on who drops down to the third tier as they face three of the four teams in the mire. Could it all come down to that final day clash with Millwall on the 5th May. The Lions themselves have a sticky away record and won’t want to be going to Wigan needing something on the final day if the hosts need a win.
Current Position: 19th
Games Played: 43
Goal Difference: -16
Remaining Fixtures: West Brom (H), Middlesbrough (A), Birmingham (H)
It’s been a truly horrible couple of years for everyone associated with Reading. Go back to the 27th May 2017. Reading were one penalty kick away from the Premier League, since then it has all fallen apart. Managers have come and gone and members of the squad have come and gone. It has all ended up with Reading fighting against the drop for the last two seasons. Recent performances have seen them move up the table and they currently sit five points above Rotherham and the dotted line.
Their run looks very tough. However, like Wigan the Royals only need four points to guarantee their survival for another season of Championship football. West Brom are always a difficult side to beat regardless of where you play them. Dwight Gayle is prolific at this level and will score if you give him the chance. A tough trip north to Teeside then beckons before a final day game at home to Birmingham, they could well need something from that game to avoid dropping to the third tier of English football.
One thing we do know is there will be plenty of twists and turns to come in the next few weeks. Who saw Wigan pulling off a win at Leeds? No one called that. It’s tough to call who will end up in that final place. All of the teams will give their all but we will have to wait until May 5th to see who joins Ipswich and Bolton in League One next season.