With the final international break of the season now behind us, there is no better time to talk about the final few games in the Championship. As is often the case, there are a number of teams vying for promotion out of the Championship.
Comparing Bournemouth’s Championship Run-in to Promotion Contenders
First, we start with the team currently occupying the second automatic promotion spot, Bournemouth. The Cherries lost in the playoffs last season to eventual victors Brentford and so will be hoping to go one better this time around.
Scott Parker’s side are certainly one of the more easy-on-the-eye outfits that the second tier has to offer and it would appear that they have the infrastructure to remain in the Premier League for a number of years.
Dominic Solanke and Lewis Cook are just a couple of Bournemouth players with something to prove at the elite level and it is becoming all the more likely that they will get to do just this. Talking of Solanke and he has 23 league goals to his name which is bettered only by the record-breaking Alexsandar Mitrovic.
Luton Town are third.
LUTON TOWN ARE THIRD. pic.twitter.com/BCARCSC8o8
— The Second Tier (@secondtierpod) March 19, 2022
Whilst Bournemouth being in the mix seems fairly routine, Luton Town are certainly hitting lofty heights. Their rise to get to this level alone has been remarkable, yet now they are seeking to gain one more promotion under the stewardship of Nathan Jones.
It is lazy journalism, but the beauty of this team is the lack of any outstanding individuals. Luton are a superb unit that tends to have unmatched levels of hunger and desire.
Centre-half Sonny Bradley or goalscoring striker Elijah Adebayo could be singled out for praise, but it is every single member on and off of the field that has them poised to secure an unprecedented playoff spot.
Of all the teams that could push Bournemouth to the wire for that automatic spot, the Hatters remain most unlikely than others with all due respect.
Just like Bournemouth, it wasn’t so long ago that Huddersfield Town were playing in the Premier League against the odds. They are back in the Championship though and after some worrying times towards the foot of the table, Carlos Corberan has them on the right path.
The emergence of relative unknowns (to neutrals anyway) such as Sorba Thomas and Levi Colwill as well as resurgent form from journeyman forward Danny Ward has the Terriers as a true force to be reckoned with.
Morgan Gibbs-White starts for @England U21 in their Euro Qualifier against Andorra. 🦁
Good luck, Morgan! 🏴 pic.twitter.com/0wzgVDdxjk
— Sheffield United (@SheffieldUnited) March 25, 2022
Along with Fulham and a putrid West Brom team, Sheffield United were expected to be back in the Premier League straight away. A torrid time before Christmas under the much-loved Chris Wilder led to his dismissal with promotion reduced to being a pipe dream.
Familiar face Paul Heckingbottom is back and up to his usual tricks. Rhian Brewster got his first few Blades’ league goals under his belt before being ruled out with injury. He has left the attack in the capable hands of the legend that is Billy Sharp along with youthful duo Morgan Gibbs-White and Iliman Ndiaye, the former in particular being a revelation.
A mixture of experience and star quality, shoutout to Sander Berge in the midfield, has the Blades finely poised to gain promotion via the playoffs. Injuries could, however, be their downfall.
A few of the Championship teams mentioned in this list are trending upwards, but that is not the case for Blackburn. Rovers currently occupy the final playoff spot but if they are unable to turn things around, particularly when Ben Brereton Diaz is absent, then they may miss out altogether.
February was a rough month for Tony Mowbray as he watched his team lose to Swansea, Nottingham Forest and Fulham as well as drawing with this hap-hazard West Brom. Diaz is yet to return and this has seen a lot of pressure thrust on the shoulders of Sam Gallagher and Tyrhys Dolan, not to mention that Rada Khadra is now sidelined too.
The one silver lining is that Bradley Dack is finally back in contention following a year-long injury.
The aforementioned Chris Wilder may not be with his beloved Sheffield United anymore, but he is still in the Championship promotion mix. Wilder is now at the helm of Middlesbrough and has them in contention. Boro had a great FA Cup run in which they saw off both Manchester United and Tottenham, only for Chelsea to eliminate them in the quarter-finals.
This allows them to focus on league play and the Riverside is proving to be somewhat of a fortress in this equation. The last eight matches at home in the league have all been won, their last defeat on home soil came at the hands of Ryan Lowe’s Preston.
— Charlie Austin (@chazaustin10) March 25, 2022
Not too long ago, it seemed entirely possible that QPR could make a long-awaited return to the top-flight via automatic promotion. A culmination of injuries and disappointing results has seen this gradually slip out of their grasp.
Not a single QPR player is in double digits for goals this term with Chris Willock, Ilias Chair, Charlie Austin and Lyndon Dykes all chipping in as a collective instead. Sitting seventh in the xG charts is all well and good but Mark Warburton’s side also occupy seventh in the xGA standings and will need to arrest this defensive slump if they are serious about finishing in the top six.s
❤️ Phenomenal 🔊
— Nottingham Forest FC (@NFFC) March 20, 2022
End of season form is often integral for the eventual champions of the playoffs. Forest fit the bill as they have gone from relegation-threatened and lacking direction under Chris Hughton to one of the best in the division under Steve Cooper.
Meanwhile, the likes of Blackburn and QPR have seen their form fall off of a cliff and are battling to hang on. Cooper did a great job with Swansea, relying on smart loan moves and that could prove to be a big difference once again.
Aston Villa loanee Keinan Davis has added some much-needed impetus upfront which atones for the ageing presence of Lewis Grabban. When combined with Welsh superstar Brennan Johnson, Davis looks like a different beast.
The Reds have games in hand over some of their nearest rivals, so a Championship promotion charge is certainly not out of the window for those on Trentside.