Friday, September 22, 2023

From the top of the Premier League to the bottom of League One, this weekend will be exciting

Graham Fisher in Editorial 2 May 2008


The coming weekend will be full of thrills and spills in three of the four leagues in England. Promotion and relegation issues will be sorted out and in the Premier League, we may either know, or be closer to knowing, who will be Champions.

Let’s look at the games in all four divisions that will be crucial to those taking part. League two is the exception to the rule. We already know that MK Dons, Peterborough and Hereford are going up and Wrexham and Mansfield are slipping out of the league. The four teams destined for the play-offs are already known and the only issues to be decided are who will play who in the semi-finals.

In League One there is more excitement. At the bottom, Luton and Port Vale are already down, but Gillingham have an outside chance of survival and Bournemouth, despite their ten point deduction and continuing financial confusion, are still fighting to save their lives. Looking anxiously over their shoulders are Cheltenham and Crewe. Unfortunately for the two currently in the drop zone, they both have difficult away trips. Gillingham travel to sixth placed Leeds needing a win to have any chance of survival and battling Bournemouth go to fourth placed Carlisle needing at least a point to have any chance of staying up.

Survival for Crewe and Cheltenham is in their own hands and a point for Crewe at home to Oldham would guarantee safety. Cheltenham host Doncaster who need a result to give them automatic promotion.

At the top, we know who the top six will be but automatic promotion is far from decided. Swansea are already champions but the other automatic place could go to Doncaster, Nottingham Forest or Carlisle. As we have seen, Doncaster and Carlisle have games against teams trying to avoid the drop. Forest have the easier looking task at home to Yeovil.

Game of the day is at Cheltenham where if Doncaster confirm automatic promotion they may well condemn Cheltenham to relegation. Alternatively, of course, if Cheltenham guarantee survival, they could force Doncaster into the dreaded play-offs. There will be many nails bitten during that ninety minutes of football.

The Championship has been a strange league all season and remarkably, there are still fourteen teams with something to play for going into Sunday’s final round of matches.

At the bottom Colchester and Scunthorpe are already down but Blackpool, Coventry, Sheffield Wednesday, Leicester and Southampton are all trying to avoid the final relegation place. Southampton, Leicester and Blackpool all take on teams in the promotion race whilst Coventry visit mid-table Charlton and Sheffield Wednesday are at home to Norwich.

Southampton currently occupy the relegation spot and defeat at home to Sheffield United, which would give them an outside chance of making the play-offs, would see Southampton drop into League One.

At the top West Brom are virtually assured promotion and Stoke look favourites to take the other automatic spot.. A point against Leicester would be enough for Stoke, and would incidentally send Leicester down if Southampton beat Sheffield United. Hull City travel to Ipswich knowing that a win together with a Stoke defeat would send them into the Premier League.

Bristol City are guaranteed a play-off spot, probably alongside Hull. The other two places are open to Watford, Crystal Palace, Wolves, Ipswich and Sheffield United. Wins for Watford at Blackpool and Crystal Palace at home to Burnley would see them occupy the final two places.

It is impossible to nominate a game of the day in this division as nine of the twelve games will have some bearing at the top and/or the bottom. Nothing will be clear until about 4.00 PM on Sunday.

In the Premier League, Manchester United take on West Ham at Old Trafford and Chelsea visit the resurgent Newcastle United at St. James’ park. Victory for United and anything less for Chelsea would see United retain their title. Any other combination of results and the title won’t be decided until after the final games next week.

At the bottom, Derby are already down but Fulham, Birmingham, Bolton, Reading, Middlesbrough and Wigan are all still trying to avoid the other two slots. Fulham will be down if they lose at home to Birmingham, but victory would catapult them above their opponents and give them real hope for the final weekend.

Reading and Bolton have home games against Tottenham and Sunderland respectively. Middlesbrough and Wigan, who should be safe, have tough games at home to Portsmouth and away at Aston Villa.

Game of the day is probably at Craven Cottage where Fulham take on Birmingham in a relegation scrap which both teams need to win. A draw would be a good result for all the others involved and nothing less than victory is required for both clubs.

It will be an exciting weekend all over the Country and it won’t finish until Monday evening when Chelsea visit Newcastle.

I hope that footy fans everywhere have a great weekend, but sadly, it will end in tears for many. I just hope that mine are not included and Watford can get a result at Blackpool.

By my reckoning there are twenty-one games in the top three divisions that will have a crucial bearing on titles, promotions and relegations.

I can’t wait!


Graham Fisher



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