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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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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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