The last few matches of the English season are upon us, and while all eyes are firmly fixed upon the implosion that is Manchester City, or the exciting race for the final two Champions League places, we here at FourFiveTwo are focused on other things. In our 2 part series we are going to talk a look at the clubs competing for promotion in the nPower Championship. For those who are uneducated, or just live in Georgia, The top two teams earn automatic promotion, while teams 3-6 compete in a 4 team playoff for the final promotion spot. This year several familiar teams are in the hunt, as well as a few who aren’t as well known. Enough gab and onto the teams.
Southampton: The Saints as they are known, used to be a staple in the top flight before their relegation in 2005. The club eventually suffered a small financial meltdown and fell into League One before returning to the Championship this season. The club has rocketed to the top of the table thanks to a solid defense that has conceded the second fewest goals in the league, as well as prolific striker Ricky Lambert who has 28 goals through 39 matches. Two other players have also reached double digits, and this has led the club to the top of the table for most of the season. They are currently 3 points clear of Reading, but Friday is an all important match between the two clubs. Regardless of the result Southampton seem likely to secure an automatic promotion to the EPL.
Reading:A Club familiar to many fans, the Royals are once again in the hunt to return to the Premier League. The club sits in second place with a 4 point cushion, and has 2 important fixtures against Southampton and Birmingham in their run-in. they also have a new Russian owner, and promotion to the EPL could see an influx of spending, yet another reason for Everton fans to sit in a corner and cry. The club has also had a solid defense and attack, although they did not get off to a fast start like Southampton, and only arrived near the top of the table in the past few weeks. I would say the club slips to 3rd when losing their final match of the season to Birmingham City.
West Ham United:The first of the three clubs relegated last season, West Ham have done well under the tutelage of Sam Allardyce. Shockingly enough the club spreads the goals around, only 2 players are in double figures, and I be the supporters want gouge their eyes out. The club has 6 points on Birmingham City, but would have to drop 10 points in the remaining few games to be knocked out of the playoffs. I look for them them to take over second on the final week of the season after Reading lose.
Birmingham City: City are the second club to be relegated last year, and with new manager Chris Hutton driving the ship, the club has the experience to return to the EPL. Friend of the Blog Jonathan Spector is with the club, and 4 different players are in
double figures, but hopefully they play more attacking football than West Ham. Birmingham is sitting in solid position for a playoff berth, but will need to be wary of dropping 5 points before the end of the season.
Blackpool: The final club in part one is probably everyone’s favorite. Blackpool were a fantastic force in the EPL last year, but their amazing offense could not offset a shaky defense that led to them being relegated on the final day. Ian Holloway is working his magic once again though, and the club sits in 5th place with 67 points. They are 2 points ahead of Cardiff City, and their run in is fairly easy and they should qualify for the playoff with ease. Kevin Phillips has been their best striker with 17 goals in 39 matches and has been a catalyst for the club. I hope they easily qualify, I miss Holloway’s fun press conferences.
That is part one of our look at potential EPL teams next season. Now when one of your misinformed friends tries to make comments, you can be studiously informed. Just make sure to call your friends idiots.