The Unenviable Race For The Premier League

With the playoff race tighter than ever before, a number of teams could still secure their place in the four places that would give them a shot at attaining a place in the Premier League.
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With the playoff race tighter than ever before, a number of teams could still secure their place in the four places that would give them a shot at attaining a place in the Premier League.

With Cardiff seemingly out of reach at the top of the table, and Hull and Watford both vying for the remaining automatic promotion place, six teams are battling to make sure they have at least a chance of promotion via the greatest method of all: the Championship play offs. The theatre of four teams clawing their way to Wembley after a gruelling season is a prospect all football fans enjoy. The final itself is probably the worst experience to go through as a fan, as a player it is the ultimate combination of fear and ambition in ninety minutes.

Cardiff (P39, 78 pts)

If you’re a Cardiff fan, then I wouldn’t worry. Cardiff’s ability to give themselves a large amount of work to do hasn’t repeated on them as badly this year and the Bluebirds will be able to enjoy a Welsh derby in the Premier League next year.

Chances of making the play offs: 100%

Hull (P40, 71 pts)

Suddenly, Hull have stumbled upon some very inconsistent form, with the 1-0 home defeat to Watford being the worst loss yet. Performances at the KC need to be improved if the second automatic promotion position is to be occupied at the end of the season. Steve Bruce should have enough guile about him to make this so, but nothing can be guaranteed. Recent signing George Boyd, who is Premier League in all but name, will be pivotal for the final push.

Chances of making the play offs: 100%

Watford (P40, 70 pts)

After a blistering mid season, Watford have taken their foot off the gas a little recently, but the previously mentioned victory over Hull was a big lift. Matej Vydra was scoring for fun earlier in the year but his goals have now dried up. Zola is new to this promotion lark and will have a big task on in the play offs if they can’t beat Hull into 2nd. The impressive Nathaniel Chalobah along with the numerous loan signings at the Hornets will have to make sure they carry on their form right to the last game, even if that is at Wembley.

Chances of making the play offs: 100%

Crystal Palace (P40, 65 pts)

Palace are on the verge of ruining what has been an otherwise good campaign. Throughout the entirety of the season, automatic promotion looked to be on the cards, but now they consider themselves lucky if they get a play off place judging by their recent outings. A 4-0 drubbing at home by Birmingham which came after a 3-0 loss by arch rivals Brighton has epitomised their woes. Ian Holloway is no stranger to the play offs so no team will want to have to face them should it come to that. The experiences heads will need to rise above the sombre atmosphere to get the best out of Zaha and Bolasie for the rest of the season.

Chances of making the play offs: 60%

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Nottingham Forest (P40, 62 pts)

A couple of draws have hindered their recent revival under Billy Davies but Forest are looking good for the play offs right now. Lewis McGugan has upped his game at exactly the right time and is leading his team through their purple patch alongside the impressive performances of the rest of his midfield, namely Henri Lansbury who is finding his feet with some consistent football. Saying this, they are only three points away from dropping out and have a couple of tricky fixtures ahead. The away game at Cardiff on April the 13th could be crucial to their season.

Chances of making play offs: 50%

Brighton (P40, 61 pts)

The thought of Premier League football coming to the Amex next year is a prospect Seagulls fans are nervously anticipating. Brighton have shown they can handle playing with the big guns, putting in a solid display against Arsenal in the FA Cup despite losing as well as an excellent win over Newcastle. They currently occupy the last play off position and are teetering on the edge. Leonardo Ulloa is having to lead the line as the only fit striker in the squad, but doing so well. Liam Bridcutt will need to maintain his excellent form with the help of the in demand Gus Poyet for the last few games.

Chances of making the play offs: 50%

Leicester (P40, 59 pts)

Leicester’s recent form is dire. Without a win since February coupled with some below average performances have seen them slide out of the play offs. Kasper Schmeichel has been doing his best to stop the rot at the back but goals are proving hard to come by. Nigel Pearson is under pressure with Paul Ince rumoured as a replacement. The Foxes travel to Brighton this Saturday in a game that could make or break their campaign. Dave Nugent and Chris Wood need to find a profitable partnership now if they are to stand a chance of promotion.

Chances of making the play offs: 40%

Bolton (P40, 57 pts)

A run of excellent form under Dougie Freedman means Bolton could be the team that sneaks in on the last day of the season. A couple of recent defeats halted their progress somewhat but managed to beat Huddersfield this week to keep them in touch. Overall though, it has been a disappointing campaign. News of Fabrice Muamba’s retirement as well as Kevin Davies imminent acrimonious departure has left a sour taste in the mouths of Bolton fans. It will be a big ask to get sixth, but one that is definitely not unachievable with the right application. Chris Eagles and Marvin Sordell will have to put in near flawless performances for the final straight.

Chances of making the play offs: 25%

Middlesbrough (P40, 55 pts)

Middlesbrough have developed an unfortunate habit of falling from promotion contenders at the beginning of the season to mid table fodder in the latter stages. The 0-0 draw at the Riverside against Peterborough personified the frustration Boro fans have had to put up with over the last few years. A four year absence from the Premier League has left them looking more like an average Championship side each year and making the play offs is now nearly too much of an uphill task. The best that can be realistically expected is some strong showings for the last few games and rebuild for next year.

Chances of making the play offs: 10%