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Championship preview

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

Last Updated: 15/03/13 at 13:06

Sean O'Driscoll: Ready for Bristol City's vital game against Wolves

Sean O'Driscoll: Ready for Bristol City's vital game against Wolves

Bottom two meet at Molineux; Cardiff four clear at top

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

Nobody needs points more than the bottom two teams in the division and Wolverhampton Wanderers entertain Bristol City at Molineux on Saturday afternoon. They are both within striking distance of safety but it is Sean O'Driscoll's Robins who are in better form after beating Middlesbrough 2-0 last time out to make it four games without a defeat

Peterborough United are also in the drop zone despite a four-match unbeaten run of their own and they will be looking to ease their troubles by beating Blackpool, who came from behind against Watford last Saturday to give Paul Ince a first win as manager.

At the top of the table it is Cardiff City who continue to set the pace but they are just starting to slow down at a crucial stage after a third straight game without a win in midweek, so Malky Mackay will be determined to claim victory away to struggling Sheffield Wednesday and at least maintain their four-point lead over the chasing pack.

Hull City currently occupy the second automatic promotion place but they face a tough challenge this weekend against a Nottingham Forest side on a five-match winning streak that has propelled them into the play-off spots.

Leicester City are also in the running for promotion but they have gone four games without a victory and will feel they have to bounce back in Saturday evening's televised game, against a Derby County side slipping in the wrong direction following an eight-match winless streak.

Ramifications

Oakwell provides the setting for a match which will have ramifications at both ends of the table, as Barnsley look to put further distance between themselves and the drop zone by getting the better of third-placed Watford, who are just a couple of points behind Hull.

Bolton Wanderers are three points outside the play-off zone after extending their winning run to five matches against Brighton & Hove Albion, but it will not be easy for Dougie Freedman's side to make it six at Portman Road against an Ipswich Town side in need of points to boost their survival hopes.

Middlesbrough's promotion bid has faded badly over the past few weeks but they remain in contention with nine matches to go and will be desperate to start their revival against a Birmingham City in 14th place.

There are two derby games kicking off early on Saturday, as FA Cup semi-finalists Millwall make the short trip across south London to Charlton Athletic, while in-form Leeds United host Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield Town.

There are also two early games on Sunday, as fourth-placed Crystal Palace face fellow promotion hopefuls Brighton and Blackburn Rovers meet Burnley in a match where Lancashire bragging rights will be at stake.

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C

lassic management. Build them up and then knock them back. Raise expectations and then dampen them. Create a dynamic where by you demand the most from your team, but where the team are given room to manoeuvre unexpected or unwanted results. Classy work by Van Gaal, he really reminds me a lot of me. A smart cookie, make no doubt.

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Van Gaal: 'I struggle for first three months'

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e will be the England left back for ten years or more, and then you will have to thank MUFC for that. *smiles*

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Shaw: Criticism spot on

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urely because of that little diva moment he had last night, I don't want him coming to my club. DESTROYED ? Grow up and give something back to the club that helped put you up there on the world stage.

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Saints' Schneiderlin stalemate

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