Leeds Have Learned from Championship Heartache

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The English Football Championship gets back into action this week with Leeds on top.

Leeds player celebrating a goal

The Championship could be tagged as the most unpredictable league in Europe and that excitement will return this weekend, as England’s second tier resumes.

The race to reach the promised land of the Premier League is the main focus, with Leeds (5/14 Winners*) and West Brom (9/4) in the box-seat with nine games left for all 24 teams.

Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds hold a one-point lead at the top, with the Baggies currently occupying the second automatic promotion spot with 70 points after 37 games.

There is then a six-point gap to third-place Fulham, while Brentford, Nottingham Forest and Preston fill the other play-off positions.

Battling to Avoid Relegation

At the bottom end of the table, it looks like an eight-team battle to avoid the three relegation places, which are currently occupied by Barnsley, Luton and Charlton (Relegation Odds – Barnsley 4/25, Luton 1/5, Charlton 10/19).

The season resumes on Saturday lunchtime, when London rivals and promotion hopefuls Fulham and Brentford go head-to-head – Match Odds – Fulham 9/5, Draw 23/10, Brentford 31/20.

It was the Bees that won the reverse fixture 1-0, back in December, and a win at Craven Cottage would move them to within a point of their opponents.

Of the 3pm kick offs, there are standout fixtures at both the top and bottom. The Hawthorns is the venue for a Midlands derby, as West Brom and Birmingham collide – Match Odds: West Brom 20/33, Draw 3/1, Birmingham 9/2.

Slaven Bilic’s men failed to win their last two matches before the enforced break and didn’t score in either game – very unusual for the Championship’s joint top-scorers, having bagged 64 goals so far this term.

Birmingham have drawn six of their last 11 in the league, but their away record makes impressive reading – with Blues unbeaten in their last seven on the road. It was recently revealed that boss Pep Clotet will leave St Andrew’s at the season and that may have an impact on the squad.

Dogfight Between Hull and Charlton

The other key game takes place a the KCOM Stadium, where fourth-from-bottom Hull play host to third-from-bottom Charlton (Match Odds – Hull 6/5, Draw 12/5, Charlton 9/4).

Hull (17/10 to be relegated) haven’t won in 11 games, coinciding with the sales of Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki, which has seen them plummet towards the relegation zone.

Charlton may have won just three of their last eight league matches, but Lee Bowyer’s team will know a win would take them above the Tigers and 9/4 looks a tempting price for an away victory.

Cardiff Host Leeds on Sunday

There is just the one Championship match on Sunday, but it promises to be a cracker – as play-off hopefuls Cardiff play host to the league leaders, Leeds (Match Odds: Cardiff 4/1, Draw 11/4, Leeds 20/29).

Having blown their chance of automatic promotion last term, many thought Leeds would fall apart again when losing four of their five games in January and early February.

But since then, Bielsa’s men have drawn one and won five of their next six matches and they seem intent on sealing that long-awaited return to the top flight.

There is no love lost between the two sides and Cardiff will definitely make it tough for the visitors, especially as the Bluebirds still have their sights on a play-off spot.

*All odds correct at time of writing

Warren has been employed as a sport journalist for over two decades and as well as years of written experience, has also worked in other areas of the media including radio and television. Football has always been his number one passion, but has also commentated and written on a number of other sports including golf, cricket, tennis and rugby.
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