So who’s ready for the last day of the regular season?
At the top:
Either Watford or Bournemouth will win the title. Middlesbrough could theoretically be promoted, but there’d be a very serious enquiry if that was the case. Ipswich, Derby, Brentford and Wolves will have to divide two playoff places between them, with a very real possibility of a Norwich/Ipswich playoff semi final.
Bookie’s verdict: The Hornets are short priced to win the title; but they can’t split Norwich or Boro to win the playoffs. Surprisingly, Wolves are the rank outsiders.
At the bottom:
Just the sound of apathy and broken dreams combined with tumbleweed.
Where to watch it:
Sky Sports have two live games (Derby v Reading, SS1 and Blackburn v Ipswich on SS2), which means that in all likelihood the ex-pros on Sky Sports news will spend a couple of hours screaming and making daft noises every time something even moderately exciting happens between noon and 2pm. If for some reason you miss everything, the one thing the Football League Show will probably be remembered for are their time stamped montages and so you’ve got the choice of waiting until almost midnight to watch the highlights on BBC1 or recording/downloading/whatever.
What to watch out for:
Sheffield Wednesday have only won twice in their last ten league visits to Vicarage Road and haven’t won consecutive league games there since the mid 1980s; they won last season’s game…Bournemouth have only won two of their eleven away games against the teams in the current top half of the table in 2014/15 – remarkably, that includes their astonishing 8-0 win at Birmingham City in October. Stat of the entire season: the Cherries have only ever won four times at Charlton in the league, but the last two victories were forty years apart. The last success: April 1975.
Three of the four teams competing for the last couple of playoff places are at home: the odd men out are Ipswich, who haven’t beaten Blackburn at Ewood Park in the league since August 1991. Town’s victory at Watford last month has been their only win in their last half a dozen away games; I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago, but I think it’s a case of ‘there’s always next season’ for Ipswich.
It’s not that straightforward for the other three either. Between them, Derby and Wolves have failed to beat Millwall, Reading and Wigan at home this season, which goes some way to explain why both of them are having to go the long way round to reach the Premier League. Brentford drew with Millwall and beat Reading at Griffin Park, but with both the Bees and Wolves having to play teams that have already been relegated it’s hardly a walk in the park. For the record, Wigan have won four of their last five league games at Griffin Park, Reading have won four of their last five league games at Derby…and Millwall haven’t won at Wolves since August 1928.
Something you may have missed (I know I did):
Last week Blackpool became the first team to go an entire season without an away win in the second tier since Bradford City ‘achieved’ that feat in 1989/90. Their last away success was a 2-0 win at Wigan just over a year ago…
There will be an update as soon as the games finish, but you’ll have to wait until Sunday to find out if either Preston or MK Dons will be joining Bristol City in next season’s competition.
Update: Bournemouth won the Championship with a win at Charlton forty years after their last one; Watford drew with Sheffield Wednesday. Norwich/Ipswich and Middlesbrough/Brentford are the playoff games. Reading won their fifth game at Derby in the last six to send the Rams down to eighth place and emphasising once again that the defeated playoff finalists from previous seasons don’t have much of a chance to win promotion at the end of the following season.
I’ll be back on either Wednesday/Thursday with the playoff preview.