Championship preview

Cardiff can clinch the title, Hull could secure promotion and the extraordinary battle against the drop continues.

Last Updated: 19/04/13 at 12:30

Steve Bruce: Hoping Hull can take a huge step towards the Premier League

Steve Bruce: Hoping Hull can take a huge step towards the Premier League

Cardiff eye title; Hull aim for promotion; Relegation battle heats up

Hull City can take a huge step towards the Premier League when they host already-relegated Bristol City on Friday.

The Sky Sports cameras are at the KC Stadium as the Tigers look to go nine points clear of Watford in third, which could see them promoted if the Hornets slip up on Saturday.

If Hull are beaten in front of their own fans, Cardiff will be crowned champions - an achievement they will be hoping to guarantee anyway with a win at Burnley on Saturday, live on Sky Sports 2 HD.

Watford have a home fixture against Blackburn at Vicarage Road but with Rovers desperate for points there will be no guarantees for Gianfranco Zola's men.

Zola's side have won just one of their last seven games - ironically, against Hull - and must surely make do with a play-off place.

Who they face in those play-offs remains in the balance as the battle for the remaining three spots hots up with three games to go.

Much could depend on the outcome at Selhurst Park where Crystal Palace take on Leicester City in a fifth versus sixth clash.

Neither side have been in great form of late but the Foxes could leapfrog the Eagles with an away victory, a result that would increase the pressure on former boss Ian Holloway at Palace.

An added concern will be the fact that the other three teams chasing a top-six finish all have winnable home games on Saturday.

Brighton currently occupy fourth spot and entertain Blackpool, while Bolton Wanderers host Middlesbrough.

Nottingham Forest, who are just a point outside the top six, also have a home game but will have a fight on their hands against a Barnsley team scrapping for their lives down at the bottom.

The Tykes are just one off the bottom but, remarkably, are only seven points away from the top half of the table as well - an indication of how tight things are in the Championship.

Huddersfield Town are the team currently the wrong side of the line, in the bottom three on goal difference, but could well claw their way out of there with a positive result at home to Millwall.

Just above them in the table are Wolves and Peterborough but both of their rivals face away trips at the weekend.

Wolves visit in-form Charlton Athletic at The Valley, while Peterborough visit Pride Park to take on Derby County.

A quick glance at the table suggests Sheffield Wednesday are out of things in lower mid-table but they are in fact just three points from safety and need a positive result at home to Ipswich Town.

The remaining fixture in the Championship sees Birmingham City host Leeds United - two of the few clubs who can plan for next season in the knowledge they will still be in this extraordinary division.

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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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