Championship preview: All eyes will be on Hull City and Watford this weekend


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The Independent Football

The Championship is yet again proving why it is one of the most competitive leagues in Europe - only three of Saturday’s fixtures are of no consequence with 12 teams realistically still having something to play for.

All eyes will be on Hull City and Watford this weekend as the two clubs battle for automatic promotion to the Premier League. Steve Bruce’s Hull have already squandered three chances to secure promotion having failed to win any of their last three games, all of which were against teams in the relegation zone.

They now have a tough game at home to champions Cardiff City while Watford host mid-table Leeds United. With Watford trailing by a point, only three points will be enough to guarantee Hull promotion and failure to do so will hand Watford the opportunity to return to the top flight with a win. If Hull lose, a draw will be enough for Gianfranco Zola’s men due to their superior goal difference.

Four teams are competing for the two remaining play-off spots. Crystal Palace are rivalling Hull City for their end-of-season collapse having failed to win in their last nine league games. Defeat at home to relegation-threatened Peterborough will see Palace miss out if both Bolton and Nottingham Forest win, which would bring a disappointing end to Wilfried Zaha’s career at Selhurst Park. A draw should be enough for Ian Holloway’s men considering their superior goal difference.

A win should be enough for Bolton, unless Forest pull off a big victory at home to Leicester who themselves have a chance of a play-off spot. A win for the Foxes will send them into the play-offs if Bolton fail to pick up three points.

Relegated Bristol City will be joined in League One by two of Wolves, Barnsley, Peterborough, Sheffield Wednesday, Millwall and Huddersfield. A second straight relegation for Wolves is looking almost certain – they need to win away to Brighton, hope Barnsley and Peterborough both lose and enjoy a five-goal swing in goal difference. Barnsley can secure safety with a win at home to Huddersfield, who they would leapfrog with a victory, while fourth-from-bottom Peterborough will stay up with a win. If either of Peterborough and Barnsley draw, however, they will both be in danger depending on each other’s results.

A win for Sheffield Wednesday would give them a second consecutive season in the Championship but anything but leaves them susceptible to the drop. Millwall and Huddersfield will both survive with draws.

The three dead rubbers that are guaranteed to feature last on the Football League Show are Birmingham v Blackburn, Burnley v Ipswich and Charlton v Bristol City.