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Championship preview

There is all to play for at both ends of the table as the Championship enters its penultimate weekend.

Last Updated: 26/04/13 at 13:26

Gianfranco Zola: Takes his Watford side to Leicester on Friday

Gianfranco Zola: Takes his Watford side to Leicester on Friday

Tigers will gain promotion if Watford fail to win on Friday

There is all to play for at both ends of the table as the Championship enters its penultimate weekend.

Friday night sees the mouth-watering clash between seventh-placed Leicester and third-placed Watford, being shown live on Sky Sports 1 HD at 7.45pm.

Nigel Pearson's side can climb into the play-offs with a draw at least, while Gianfranco Zola's Hornets must win to maintain their automatic promotion hopes, sitting four points behind second-placed Hull City.

But, even if the Hornets win, Steve Bruce's Tigers can gain promotion back to the top flight with a win on Saturday at second-from-bottom Barnsley, who need at least a point themselves to climb out of the drop zone.

Gus Poyet's Brighton need to beat mid-table Leeds - who are already safe - at Elland Road to guarantee themselves a place in the play-offs.

Fifth-placed Crystal Palace are badly out of form, picking up just three points from their last seven games, and face the tough trip to in-form Blackburn, who have won three out of their last four matches to sit five points above the drop zone and just a win away from survival.

Bolton occupy the last play-off spot and Dougie Freedman's Trotters take on champions Cardiff who have already sealed their promotion to the Premier League.

Capitalise

Any slip-ups and eighth-placed Nottingham Forest will be looking to capitalise with a win at Millwall, who have lost their last two games to drop worryingly to 19th in the table, four points above the drop zone but with a game in hand.

Ninth-placed Charlton still have a mathematical chance of making the play-offs but must win at Middlesbrough.

Down at the bottom, Wolves sit in the drop zone on goal difference and will be aiming to beat Burnley, who are not safe themselves and need a victory to guarantee their place in next season's Championship.

Like Wolves and Barnsley, fourth-from-bottom Peterborough are also on 51 points and Darren Ferguson's side host Sheffield Wednesday in the Saturday evening kick-off, being shown live on Sky Sports 2 HD at 5.20pm.

But it will be tough for Posh against Dave Jones' Owls who will be aiming for a win to guarantee safety.

Fifth-from-bottom Huddersfield are three points ahead of the drop zone - but with a far worse goal difference than their pursuers - and will be looking to take maximum points at relegated Bristol City, who have only pride to play for.

Ipswich need a point against Birmingham to ensure safety, while Paul Ince's Blackpool will be targeting a win to confirm their survival when hosting mid-table Derby.

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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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