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Saturday, 21 March 2015, 15:00

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Championship preview

Watford's home date with Cardiff catches the eye on a busy Saturday of second tier action which sees Leeds begin life after Neil Warnock.

Last Updated: 06/04/13 at 13:26

Gianfranco Zola: Watford are pushing hard for automatic promotion

Gianfranco Zola: Watford are pushing hard for automatic promotion

Hornets face Bluebirds; Seagulls meet Foxes; Whites without boss

Watford's home date with fellow promotion chasers Cardiff catches the eye on a busy Saturday of second tier action which sees Leeds begin life after Neil Warnock.

Elsewhere, in a division which remains intriguingly poised, Leicester and Crystal Palace will be looking to address alarming slumps and Peterborough will want to keep their survival surge going against the side sat directly above them in the standings.

Watford sit third heading into the weekend, just one point adrift of the top two, but will face a stern examination of their promotion credentials when table-topping Cardiff - who hold a seven-point lead at the summit - travel to Vicarage Road for a game which can be caught live on Sky Sports 2 HD.

Hull City came unstuck against Watford last time out, allowing the chasing pack to close in, but they know that victory over out-of-sorts Middlesbrough - who have lost four of their last five - will see them cement their standing in second.

Nottingham Forest boast the longest unbeaten record in the division - with Billy Davies yet to suffer a setback in his 10 games in charge - and the Reds will want to consolidate their position inside the play-offs when they welcome Blackpool to the City Ground.

Crystal Palace remain in fourth spot, but they have suffered three straight defeats and will be desperate to return to winning ways when they entertain a Barnsley side that has begun to show signs of life in their efforts to beat the drop.

Just two points separate Brighton and Leicester at present and they will lock horns at the AMEX Stadium with a top-six standing on the line - with the Seagulls having edged above the Foxes due to the latter's seven-match winless run.

Rejuvenated

Bolton have not given up a play-off place just yet, but they will face a tough task keeping themselves in contention when they host rejuvenated Wolves - on the back of three successive victories - at the Reebok Stadium.

Nine points from their last three fixtures have offered Derby an outside chance of making the top six, but they need to keep on winning if they are to stand any chance of making the promotion shake-up and face an Ipswich side on Saturday that has suffered only one defeat in seven.

Birmingham's recent winning run came to an end last time out, but they will be keen to start over when they entertain a Millwall team that should be safe and is likely to be turning its focus towards an FA Cup semi-final date.

Neil Warnock opted to walk away from Leeds on the back of a third successive defeat, and a sixth game without a win, and caretaker coach Neil Redfearn will be at the helm when the Whites travel to his former employers Charlton.

Another managerless side, Blackburn, have slipped back into relegation trouble on the back of a nine-match winless run and need to start turning the tide when they tackle fellow strugglers Sheffield Wednesday.

Huddersfield and Peterborough also find themselves locked in a basement battle, and both sides will be hoping for a welcome morale boost when they do battle at the John Smith's Stadium - with Posh heading north unbeaten in their last seven.

The final fixture on Saturday sees rock-bottom Bristol City, who sit seven points adrift of safety, go to mid-table Burnley - who have been held in four of their last five fixtures and their last three in a row.

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Readers' Comments

S

terling needs to be told though that upon entering the Arsenal squad he will re-enact the final scene from Highlander where he will be thrown around a warehouse by cartoon dragons and then be a mere mortal that will only ever spend three to four weeks a season playing football and the rest on the physio's bed. There can be only one.....player available at The Emirates.

rodger's gusset
Arsenal interest in Sterling

T

he game changed in our favour when Carrick came on. We were able to play further up the pitch due to having a player who can give and go with the ball and keep possession. Yet barkley made some runs and Townsend scored a good goal but carrick's inclusion and chiellini's withdrawal made the biggest difference to the flow of the game

ricky villa
Hodgson: Barkley was brilliant

N

o, you've not silenced anyone Andros, i'm afraid. We know you can score a great goal, and it's really handy to have your direct running and willingness to shoot on the bench. But until you can do the other things expected of a winger (beat the man, put a decent cross in, stay wide etc) then you can't expect more than a regular cameo. Wonderful goal though, what a hit! No wonder Buffon wanted the shirt.

badwolf
Townsend: I've silenced critics

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