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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

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.

hump3.
Van Gaal: 'I struggle for first three months'

H

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

london saint
Shaw: Criticism spot on

P

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.

bale doubt
Saints' Schneiderlin stalemate

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