Championship preview

There are plenty of crucial games at both ends of the Championship this week as the promotion and relegation battles intensify.

Last Updated: 01/04/13 at 15:30

Ian Holloway: Back at Bloomfield Road

Ian Holloway: Back at Bloomfield Road

Expect twists in the relegation battle; Hull and Watford showdown

There are plenty of crucial games at both ends of the Championship this week as the promotion and relegation battles intensify.

With Hull City hosting Watford in a huge game on Tuesday evening, Cardiff have the chance to extend their lead at the top with a home fixture against Blackburn on Easter Monday.

Rovers are on a run of eight without a win, the worst sequence in the division, and have been dragged into the relegation battle because of the improved form of those below them.

They aren't alone as there are five teams within two points of Wolves in the drop zone and the Molineux club will be hoping to climb out of the bottom three with a win at rivals Birmingham.

Barnsley are just a point further back in 23rd and will surely fancy their chances against a Leicester side in freefall under Nigel Pearson having picked up just two points from their last six games.

Bristol City are the only team cut adrift as they are six points from safety and Sheffield Wednesday will regard the trip to Ashton Gate as an opportunity to ease relegation fears of their own.

Blackpool are another team that has been sucked into the battle against the drop and their home fixture against playoff hopefuls Crystal Palace will remind of them of better times.

The match marks the return of Ian Holloway to Bloomfield Road and the home faithful will be left bereft if former favourite Kevin Phillips is on target for the Eagles.

Resurgent

Elsewhere in the playoff positions, Nottingham Forest travel to Burnley in the hope of continuing their resurgent form under Billy Davies.

The televised game on Sky Sports 1 HD sees one of Davies' former clubs, Derby County, travel to 1970s rivals Leeds United in what promises to be a feisty game.

In the final Monday fixture, Millwall host Ipswich and a win for either side could lift them into the top half of the table.

As well as the crucial clash between Hull City and Watford, there are three other matches on Tuesday with the trip of Peterborough to Middlesbrough the pick with both teams having plenty to play for.

Like Tony Mowbray's Boro, Brighton are another side chasing the playoff spots and they will host mid-table Charlton confident of picking up a vital three points.

Completing the full set of Championship fixtures is the 8pm kick-off between Bolton and Huddersfield with the Trotters still clinging to promotion hopes while the Terriers need points to avoid the drop.

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till reckon Chelsea will go for Khedira as back up for Matic. I think it will turn out to be quite a Mourihno-y window: We'll see the squad players and youth in action pre-season, say things like well, we need not buy anybody and then the club will bid £60m for Pogba and send everybody on loan.

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would love to be a fly on the wall at the meeting between Milner and Rodgers. I don't know if flies can count, but if they can then I would be counting the number of times Rodgers used the word outstanding in his attempts to get Milner to sign.

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ell, it wouldn't be a summer without Arsenal fans fretting over losing a key player, and United throwing their weight around and muscling in on transfer deals which are (apparently) near to completion. If we can't be entertained by the football on the pitch, let's enjoy the silly off-pitch soap opera of the transfer season. Hurrah!

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