Heralded the most exciting league in the world, the Championship has proved to be exactly that in 2013/14 by serving up an incredible campaign.
With just one week of the season remaining, there is still so much to be decided at both the top and bottom of the division with Week 45’s results throwing endless spanners into the works.
Below, we take a look at the Championship table, and assess what’s to come in the final week of a thrilling eight months of football.
|Queens Park Rangers||45||15||77|
|Brighton & Hove Albion||45||14||69|
Leicester City and Burnley have already confirmed their Premier League status prior to Week 45’s play, but still went about their business in the professional style that their sets of fans have become accustomed to, as the results show below:
|Brighton & Hove Albion||2-0||Yeovil Town|
|Birmingham City||1-3||Leeds United|
|Charlton Athletic||1-3||Blackburn Rovers|
|Huddersfield Town||0-2||Leicester City|
|Sheffield Wednesday||1-3||Bolton Wanderers|
|Tuesday, April 29||Birmingham City||vs.||Wigan Athletic|
|Tuesday, April 29||Charlton Athletic||vs.||Watford|
|Saturday, May 3||Barnsley||vs.||QPR|
|Saturday, May 3||Blackburn Rovers||vs.||Wigan Athletic|
|Saturday, May 3||Blackpool||vs.||Charlton Athletic|
|Saturday, May 3||Bolton Wanderers||vs.||Birmingham City|
|Saturday, May 3||Ipswich Town||vs.||Sheffield Wednesday|
|Saturday, May 3||Leeds United||vs.||Derby County|
|Saturday, May 3||Leicester City||vs.||Doncaster Rovers|
|Saturday, May 3||Millwall||vs.||Bournemouth|
|Saturday, May 3||Nottingham Forest||vs.||Brighton & Hove Albion|
|Saturday, May 3||Reading||vs.||Burnley|
|Saturday, May 3||Watford||vs.||Huddersfield Town|
|Saturday, May 3||Yeovil Town||vs.||Middlesbrough|
As with every Championship campaign, the quest for a top-six place becomes a Holy Grail chase as the climax approaches—and the 2013/14 season has been no different in that respect.
With just one week remaining, there are still four sides that can mathematically take up the final two play-off spots and keep their dreams of being a top-flight team alive—Derby County and QPR have already claimed the top two play-off positions.
Brighton & Hove Albion, Blackburn Rovers, Wigan Athletic and Reading are all still in with a chance, though the latter two remain in the driving seats.
Wins for the pair in Week 46 will see them secure a play-off spot apiece, though as Week 45 reminded us, there are always twists and turns in the Championship.
Wigan welcomed lowly Blackpool to the DW Stadium on Saturday, expecting nothing but a routine victory to cement their place in the top six.
However, the Tangerines clearly hadn’t read the script, as they romped to a 2-0 victory over the Latics to keep their Championship survival hopes intact.
Full time at the DW Stadium, Wigan Athletic 0 Blackpool 2. Keogh and Dobbie with the goals for the visitors. Full report to follow. #wafc— Wigan Athletic (@LaticsOfficial) April 26, 2014
While Uwe Rosler’s team have a game in hand over the other play-off contenders, they’ll know that they can take nothing for granted in the league where anyone can beat anyone.
If they fail to find a way past Birmingham City in midweek, then Blackburn Rovers can end their hopes of an immediate return to the Premier League on May 3 at Ewood Park.
Reading, meanwhile, will host the already promoted Burnley at the Madejski Stadium in their final game of the season, knowing that a win will secure their place in the top six after a topsy-turvy season.
FULL TIME. Reading go fifth!!!! One game to go.....it's not over yet......— Reading FC (@ReadingFC) April 26, 2014
While they need a strong performance to dispose of the Clarets, winger Gareth McClearly says that the Royals have a strong advantage over their play-off-chasing rivals, as GetReading reported:
Mentally we have to be strong and hopefully we can pick up the points. We had it in our hands for a while, but then we slipped up at Wigan. Fortunately the teams around us slipped up as well so now it’s back in our hands again. As long as we win our games, we don’t have to look over our shoulders.
It’s bound to be an exciting day in the race for sixth on May 3, and such is the nature of Championship football that you’d be hard-pressed to pick the play-off contenders until every full-time whistle has been blown.
At the other end of the table, Week 46 will see five teams scrap for their Championship lives as the threat of League 1 football looms large.
Barnsley joined Yeovil Town on the Championship scrap heap after defeat to Middlesbrough condemned them to life in the third tier on Saturday, but there is still one relegation place yet to be decided.
Barnsley are relegated to League One after a 3-1 defeat at Middlesbrough in the Championship— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) April 26, 2014
Birmingham City, Doncaster Rovers, Millwall, Charlton Athletic and Blackpool could all respectively hold 22nd position come the end of the campaign.
Birmingham City haven’t been in the third tier of English football since the 1994/95 season having flirted with life in the Premier League over the last decade, but now find themselves on the brink of relegation.
However, with just one draw needed from their two remaining fixtures to leapfrog Doncaster in the table, they’ll expect their run in the top two divisions to continue.
Rovers’ goal difference is significantly inferior to that of the Blues, and their trip to Championship champions Leicester on the final day is unlikely to provide them with a point or three to save their season.
It’s been a Championship campaign to remember, but let’s face it, we’re saying that every single season.
The high-stakes drama is like nothing on offer in the world of football, and while Week 46 will bring that drama to a close, there’s still lots of questions that need answering.