This year’s nPower Championship season has been one of the closest of all time, and Saturday’s action will be intense as we go into the final game of the 2012/13 campaign with promotion and play-off places still up for grabs and any two of six teams still facing the drop into League One.
First of all a big congratulations must go to Cardiff City. Following several seasons on the brink of promotion with failed play-off campaigns, the Bluebirds finally earned their place amongst the elite for the first time in their history at the end of a turbulent season and will come face to face with their Welsh rivals Swansea in the big league next term.
Elsewhere the battle for the second automatic spot is still very much alive with current occupants Hull City and their rivals Watford locked in a final day showdown. With The Tigers going down 2-0 to relegation threatened Barnsley at the weekend and Gianfranco Zola’s Hornets being victorious at Leicester 24 hours earlier, just one point now separates the two. Therefore a win at home to already champions Cardiff City will confirm Hull’s return to the Premier League after two years away while anything less and they will have to rely on a slip-up at Vicarage Road where Watford entertain lacklustre Leeds.
Fight for Play-Off Places
Brighton with 72 points are the only team besides either Hull or Watford to be guaranteed a place in the end of season lottery that is the play-offs. Crystal Palace (69) and Bolton Wanderers (67) currently make up the top six but could lose out to either Nottingham Forest (67) or Leicester City (65). The Eagles could have sealed their own destiny on Tuesday, however a goalless draw against struggling Millwall wasn’t enough and they require a victory to make complete sure on Saturday, their visitors though are Peterborough United who also need all three points to ensure they stay in the Championship. Last season’s relegated team Bolton are in the final play-off spot albeit on goal difference only, therefore their derby encounter against Blackpool holds even more significance than normal. If the Trotters slip up at home and drop points then either Nottingham Forest or Leicester will be looking to pounce. However, the added spice to the occasion is that the two teams meet at the City Ground so only one, and not both, can extend their season.