Final Match Day
Sunday, May 6th will serve as the final matchday for the EFL Championship ‘regular season’. The pressure is on for the clubs trying to make the leap up to the Premier League, with 1 automatic spot left and, realistically, 1 playoff spot available. The table paints the picture of the drama for the finale.
Since the last update, not much as far as the table has really changed as far as positioning in the playoff spots. Most of the same players are still in the thick of it, the main change, Wolves have since locked up the top spot and automatic promotion. Cardiff, Fulham, Villa, Derby, and Boro are all still sitting in the remaining spots.
As you can see in the table, Cardiff has held par the course, with Fulham on quite a tear nipping at their heals in the chase for the 2nd automatic promotion spot. Aston Villa has continued to perform well, with Derby and Boro have swapped positions. Bristol City and Sheffield United both fell away in recent weeks with Millwall bombing forward, at one point Millwall was holding onto a playoff position.
With that summary of events, the fixtures for the last day have interesting Pro/Rel spin of their own in the Championship. With Wolves guaranteed promotion, the focus will only be on the fixtures related to the available spots.
Cardiff- 89pts +30 v Reading (19th) 43pts
Fulham-88pts +35 v Birmingham City (20th) 43pts
Aston Villa-83pts +31 v Millwall-69pts +22
Middlesborough-75pts +22 v Ipswich Town (13th)
Derby-72pts +19 v Barnsley (21st) 41pts
Preston-70pts +10 v Burton Albion (22nd) 41pts
You may notice Reading, Birmingham, Barnsley, and Burton Albion all near the bottom of the table and at risk of dropping into the remaining 2 relegation spots (Bolton on 40pts currently occupies the 23rd spot, Sunderland already relegated in the 24th). This provides some context to the competitive nature of the fixtures listed above. Cardiff and Fulham face opponents who are in ‘must win’ scenarios in their competition for the final automatic spot. Derby and Preston who are battling for the final playoff spot both also face relegation ‘must win’ sides. Villa and Boro are in unique positions. Villa has secured a playoff spot and face Millwall who still has an outside chance at grabbing the last playoff spot must navigate whether to rest players or try to keep momentum. Boro who also has assured their spot, play Ipswich who has nothing to play for, leaving Boro to also navigate the rest/sharpness question.
If you read the last Pro/Rel Roundup then you may realize that almost nothing goes quite as according to plan in the Championship. Villa, Boro, and Derby all have held onto playoff spots despite their seemingly more treacherous fixtures. In regards to the final automatic promotion spot, Fulham may pip Cardiff to it. Fulham has been in fine form and should still win their match, whereas Cardiff could easily fall into a draw against a scrappy Reading side. Then in regards to the last playoff spot, Derby should hold on needing only a draw against a poor Barnsley side.
Again, if you can’t already tell from comparing this post to the last one, things are extremely hard to predict in the wild atmosphere of the EFL Championship, so you have to watch for yourself to see how the last day will unfold. Then after the final day drama has settled, you have the ever more unpredictable playoffs to look forward to, which saw the 3rd seed Huddersfield earn promotion last season. Enjoy sitting back and watching the hopeful Premier League newcomers duke it out for their shot at the big time.