All clubs were involved in two games this week with exciting games and unexpected results: significantly both Welsh sides broke the 70 point barrier and – for the time being – the Championship consists of 25 clubs after Brighton were promoted from League 1 in midweek.
The Seagulls haven’t played in the second tier since finishing bottom in 2005/06 and will start next season at the brand new Amex Stadium in Falmer. With all three of last season’s promoted clubs currently in the top eight in the Championship, the Sussex club could have an impact next season, although ‘new stadium syndrome’ in a higher level of competition might be a factor that works against them.
Losing 4-1 at Scunthorpe isn’t a good thing to have on your CV if you’re a potential Premier League team, but QPR fans shouldn’t worry too much. After putting four past Bristol City last Saturday, Barnsley had almost the entire game to score an equaliser after Adel Taarabt’s early goal but failed to do so.
Two wins in Yorkshire and help from their major rivals took Cardiff past the 70 point mark and into second place: the Bluebirds bid to play in the top tier of English football for the first time since 1962 was aided by Swansea’s 3-0 win over Norwich on Saturday, which featured a superb free kick from Chelsea loanee Fabio Borini.
The races for second place and the last playoff spot will probably go down to the last game of the season, but the current top five looks settled and sixth place should be between Leeds and Nottingham Forest. Even so, trying to ensure a play off place isn’t really the best time for your form to go into a nose dive: Forest looked as if they were going to earn a point against Reading when Lewis McGugan converted an 88th minute penalty kick but Luke Chambers scored an own goal in injury time. Having gone 36 regular season games without a defeat at home, Forest have now lost two of the last four games at the City Ground: Leeds have won once in their last five games and lost both of their games last week.
This weekend’s games start this evening when Forest travel to Norwich (Sky Sports 2, 7:45pm) in an important game for both teams. The Canaries haven’t lost at home in the league this year, despite three straight away wins at the beginning of January, Forest haven’t won away from home in the last seven and have only won two of the last ten league meetings at Carrow Road.
The bottom four play each other on Saturday but with Crystal Palace having a six point advantage over Scunthorpe and as good a home record as Leeds this could be the weekend where the trapdoor begins to creak open for Sheffield United, who travel to Preston – where they’ve only won once in the last ten games. Tomorrow’s meeting is only the third time Scunthorpe have visited Selhurst Park for a league game but although Palace are undefeated at home against the bottom six, the Iron have won at Preston and Sheffield United this season and seem determined to go out with a bang.
This week’s games finish on Monday night when Queen’s Park Rangers meet Derby (Sky Sports 1, 7:45pm kick off): a ten point lead with fifteen points left to play for is an enviable position to be in, but as QPR still have to face Cardiff (who can still overtake them) and Leeds (who can’t) before the end of the season, then beating the Rams is necessary to pretty much ensure promotion before the end of the season. In an eye catching statistical anomaly, QPR haven’t beaten Derby at home since September 1982 despite having played them nine times since then and as we’re entering the part of the season where anything could happen this game should be worth keeping an eye on.