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Which Championship play-off contender will achieve promotion this season?



The Championship play-off race is often an exciting and tense part of the season; with the teams involved often having to fight for their place right up until the final kick of the regular season.

As we enter the final full month of the English football calendar, it is looking this campaign is going to be no different.

So, we are left with two questions – which four sides are going to make it into the play-offs? And who will be walking away from Wembley Stadium in May, with the ultimate prize of reaching the Premier League?

Huddersfield Town – Current position: 3rd, 71 points

David Wagner’s men have enjoyed a tremendous season so far and find themselves at the top of the play-off pile. Although not too far behind the automatic promotion places currently occupied by Brighton and Newcastle, it may prove too high a hurdle for the Yorkshire outfit. However, Huddersfield are the form team in the league since the turn of the year and while the Terriers are the lowest scoring side out of any of the play-off contenders – they have one of the tightest backlines in the division and it has seen them put themselves in a great position. A tough fortnight awaits though as they face both Norwich and Preston who will be desperate to make up ground on the play-off sides and these few games could prove telling as to where they finish in the promotion mix.

Projected finish: 3rd, 89 points (Play-off runner-up) 

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Leeds United – Current position: 4th, 69 points

Leeds appear to have moved away from their ownership troubles and are now making the headlines for much more positive reasons. Gary Monk’s side have the best defensive record in the league outside the top two, and a healthy goal difference to show for it. In addition to having a strong defence, Leeds have the Championship’s top goal scorer Chris Wood in the ranks. The New Zealand international is currently side-lined with an injury but will return before the end of the season and his inclusion could play a pivotal role in any success that Leeds will have this season. A crunch game on 1st April against Reading will be crucial in deciding where these teams finish the campaign. A trip to Elland Road for a play-offs match will be a fearsome prospect for whichever side faces Gary Monk’s men and the backing of the fans could be a big boost for the players in these high-pressure fixtures.

Projected finish: 4th, 84 points (Play-off Winner) 

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Reading – Current position: 5th, 67 points:

Much like Leeds, Reading have managed to leave a couple of poor seasons behind them and have gone on to have a very successful season under manager Jaap Stam. The Royals have had a slight blip in form as of late and will be hoping that they can win the massive game against Leeds at the Madejski Stadium on 1st April. Jaap Stam’s men have gone through a huge transition period since the Dutchman arrived in the summer and while they have found goals slightly difficult to come by at times this season; the team has a solid foundation and a philosophy that the players have all bought into. The main factor that will play into Reading’s hands is that they on paper have the easiest run in of all the clubs fighting for the play-off places, which should see them finish in the top six.

Projected finish: 5th, 83 points (Play-off Semi-finalist) 

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Sheffield Wednesday – Current position: 6th, 62 points

The Owls have pulled together an immensely talented squad for this season and, under Carlos Carvahal, have found themselves right in the mix once again in the Championship run in. A 2-0 loss at home to rivals Reading prior to the international break would have stung, but fixtures against Barnsley and Rotherham provide a great chance for Wednesday to bounce back. Carvahal’s men have prided themselves on not conceding many goals this season and the defence will certainly be tested as tough games against free-scoring Newcastle and Fulham on the final day await the Owls.

Projected finish: 7th, 73 points

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Fulham – Current position: 7th, 61 points

Fulham are the highest scoring side out of the current play-off contenders, thanks to thrashing several teams at Craven Cottage this season. Slavisa Jokanovic’s men have a pretty tough final eight games this season – but a 3-1 win at St. James’ Park over league leaders Newcastle will have lit a fire under the Cottager’s play-off campaign. It has shown that they are more than capable of fighting with the biggest teams in the division and will hope to still have the momentum after their players return from international duty. Fulham could cause real issues for whichever side they face should they get into the play-offs, but a likely 6th place finish could see their opponent being too strong over two legs.

Projected finish: 6th, 75 points (Play-off Semi-finalist)

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Norwich City – Current position: 8th, 57 points

Norwich have endured some tough points at times this season but are still in play-off contention despite having caretaker manager Alan Irvine at the helm since the dismissal of Alex Neil earlier this year. The Canaries have rediscovered some form and the likes of Cameron Jerome, Steven Naismith and Wes Hoolahan are great players but a run-in that pits Norwich against six sides chasing promotion in the last eight games might be enough to see them fall short of the top six on this occasion.

Projected finish: 9th, 67 points

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Preston North End – Current position: 9th, 57 points

Perhaps the ultimate dark horses in this season’s promotion mix. The Lancashire club have fired themselves up the table thanks to the likes of Aiden McGeady who has rejuvenated his career with Simon Grayson’s side. It would a great result for the Lilywhites to creep into the play-offs but you would have to say that they would struggle against many of the other contenders across two legs. A tough run of games through April may dent any chance of reaching the top six as every point will be massive as the campaign reaches its climax.

Projected finish: 8th, 70 points

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At this point of the season, every game is a cup final for teams at both ends of the table. It is part of what makes the Championship one of the most exciting and competitive leagues in the World. It remains to be seen what will happen as this season draws to a close and it is likely that there will be a number of twists before the final ball is kicked in May, but while the final outcome is unclear; it is certain that it will be a thrilling finish to the Championship campaign with the ultimate prize of promotion to the Premier League up for grabs.

Calum is a Reading fan and has been a season ticket holder for many years. He is currently studying for a degree in Sport & Exercise Psychology.


Ryan Sessegnon should resist Tottenham interest and remain at boyhood club Fulham

The 19-year-old has been linked with Spurs for some time.



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The more Ryan Sessegnon excels, the more the tabloids run wild.

It seems that every coming week brings a new, outlandish rumour for the 17-year-old’s future destination. The most consistent linked with Sessegnon has been Tottenham Hotspur, but the Fulham youngster has also attracted attention from the likes of Liverpool, both Manchester clubs, Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich.

Yet, despite all of the interest from mega-clubs, Ryan Sessegnon should remain at Fulham.

The precocious talent has taken the Championship by storm ever since he made his debut as a 16-year-old in August 2016.

Sessegnon began his career as a left-back but was used to great effect in a more advanced position during the end of the 2016/17 season. Midway through this campaign, he has established himself as a left-winger in Slavisa Jokanovic’s 4-3-3 system.

The teenager has blossomed at Craven Cottage, leading Fulham in scoring with a remarkable 14 goals to date. Even more impressive, he has risen to the occasion in the high-profile matches, notching goals against Wolves, Aston Villa, Derby, and his first professional hat-trick against Sheffield United.

(Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

The reason Sessegnon has excelled at Fulham? The immense faith and trust the coaching staff have placed in his abilities. A stunning statistic is that at just 17 years of age, Ryan Sessegnon is the only player in the Fulham squad to start every single match this season.

If he were to leave Fulham, he would lose the crucial aspect that has let him flourish: constant game time. At his age, the most valuable thing a player can have is regular first-team experience.

A move to a so-called bigger club would undoubtedly result in reduced first-team appearances for Sessegnon, which would hamper his progression at a crucial moment in the Englishman’s development.

If Fulham can achieve promotion to the Premier League this season, an event that is looking increasingly likely due to a 15-match unbeaten run, then there is no doubt Sessegnon should remain in SW6.

A guaranteed starting role in the world’s top league will provide the youngster with the perfect chance to fulfill his sky-high potential, an opportunity he would be remiss to pass up.

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Since Aleksandar Mitrovic left, he and Newcastle United have scored the same amount of goals

The Serbian striker is leading Fulham to potential promotion.



Fulham continued their march in the Championship this week with an impressive 3-0 win against Sheffield United at Craven Cottage. The result moves the Cottagers up to fourth in the Championship and into serious contention for promotion to the Premier League. If they do make it back to the top-flight then the signing of Aleksandar Mitrovic will prove to have been crucial.

The Serbian striker scored twice for Fulham against the Blades, continuing his excellent form. Since joining Fulham at the end of January Mitrovic has managed to score an impressive five goals in seven games.

during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Watford at St. James Park on November 25, 2017 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

It is run of form which will be hard to take for Newcastle United fans. Mitrovic is of course on loan at Fulham from the struggling Premier League side.

Newcastle are currently just two points off the relegation zone in the Premier League. Despite their struggles this season, Rafa Benitez continued to ignore Mitrovic’s claims for a first-team position.

Now that is looking like a poor decision from the Newcastle manager.

Mitrovic’s tally of five goals since he joined Fulham is impressive in itself. Newcastle fans will not like to hear the following statistic though. The Magpies have only managed to score five goals as a team since Mitrovic was allowed to join Fulham in January.

It is hard to see how the Fulham loanee would not have been a helpful member of the Newcastle team if he was given a chance by Benitez before the end of the season.

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 09: Aleksandar Mitrovic of Newcastle United arrives at the stadium prior to the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Leicester City at St. James Park on December 9, 2017 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Mitrovic’s form at Fulham is even more depressing when considering who Newcastle brought in to replace him. Algerian striker Islam Slimani arrived on loan from Leicester City to take his place. However, injury means Newcastle fans are yet to see him play for the club over a month later.

Mitrovic can be a controversial and often inconsistent operator up front. But he is proving what he can do at Craven Cottage and leaving Newcastle slightly red in the face.

There is a chance Newcastle could go down and Fulham win promotion on the back of Mitrovic’s goals. If that proves the case, Mitrovic’s exit will go down as one of the worst transfer decisions in Newcastle’s recent history.

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Has Slaviša Jokanovic assembled the Fulham team of the century at just the right moment?

The Serbian’s side are flying in the Championship and look on course for promotion.



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Times like this rarely come around for clubs like Fulham. Not since 2010’s spellbinding Europa League final run have the Whites conjured up such optimism, goodwill, and footballing joy.

The current 13-match (and counting) unbeaten run is truly historic and has provided the long-suffering Fulham faithful with moments to savor for years to come. And there is a feeling around the club of unfinished business- that this year the team Slaviša Jokanovic has assembled can go one step further than last year and achieve promotion to the Premier League.

Fulham’s weekend win over Derby County marked their tenth win in their last 13 games. 33 points from a possible 39. 32 goals scored and just ten conceded. Five clean sheets in the process. It is no understatement to say that this is the best form Fulham have seen in decades; not since the jubilant campaign of 2000/01 have the Cottagers hit such heights.

The last four matches have been ever the more impressive considering the high-quality opposition Fulham have faced. Following a draw with Bolton in mid-February, the Whites embarked on a run of fixtures against six out of top nine, including all other teams in the top six.

(Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

On paper, it appeared a brutal stretch that would test the club to their limits. Common knowledge was that the Whites would be clinging on to their spot in the play-offs by March.

Yet this Fulham side pays little attention to common knowledge. The supposed heavyweight clubs in the Championship, Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers, both left Craven Cottage empty-handed after being swatted away and held goalless.

Fulham beat  Derby County away for the first time in 16 years, while they held Bristol City to an entertaining 1-1 draw. Four matches against four of the best in the division have resulted in three wins and a draw.

What’s perhaps most remarkable about the magnificent run is that it has not been propelled by a single standout player, but rather by the entire squad.

The return of Marcus Bettinelli has been a revelation, and just like last season, he has brought newfound form to side. Tomas Kalas, and Tim Ream in particular, have been stalwarts at the back. Ryan Fredericks, who recently marked a century of appearances for Fulham, has terrorised opposition defenses all season with his searing pace. Matt Targett has added class and composure, despite his tender age, proving to be an astute loan signing.

And that’s just the back five. The midfield three has truly reestablished itself after early season struggles. Tom Cairney is back to his rampaging best after an injury-hit first half of the year, Stefan Johansen has recaptured his 2016/17 form, and Kevin McDonald is imperious as always in the centre of the park.

(Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Aleksandr Mitrovic truly seems to be the final piece in Slavisa Jokanovic’s jigsaw. The Serbian striker has fired home three goals in his last three matches, providing strong hold-up play, powerful driving runs, and lethal finishing. Finally Fulham have the striker they deserve.

Then there is Ryan Sessegnon. At this point, superlatives can no longer do him justice. There are simply no words for the season he is having. At the age of 17, having played the majority of his matches as a full-back, the Englishman has bagged an outstanding 14 goals.

Sessegnon’s passion and love for the club makes each goal ever the more enjoyable; he is a dream come true for Fulham fans. Suddenly, talk of a spot on the plane to Russia no longer seems so outlandish.

After the next two matches against Sheffield United and Preston, 8th and 9th in the table respectively, the Whites have a run-in of dreams. In their remaining nine fixtures, they play just one team in the top ten. It is not totally radical to dream of an unbeaten finish to the campaign.

But times weren’t always this good on the bank of the Thames. Remarkably, some supporters were calling for Slavisa’s sacking after a rough October that left the Whites languishing in 17th.

Such rash judgements seem foolish now, and credit is due for the level-headed management that trusted in the Serb’s judgement. Come May, that patience could very well be richly rewarded.

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