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Which sides will be promoted to the Premier League this season? Southampton, Reading & West Ham…

As usual the Championship is living up to its reputation of being a difficult division to escape from. Championship player of the year Rickie Lambert’s goals should be enough to see Southampton repeat Norwich’s feat of last year with two successive promotions to return to the Premiership. If they do as well as Norwich have done this season, their fans will be delighted, and after a career of finding the goal regularly in the lower divisions it will be interesting to see how Lambert copes with the step up.

The second automatic place is between Reading and West Ham. Although at the moment they are six points clear, Reading could be feeling West Ham’s breath on the back of their neck after this weekend when they have to visit Southampton, and West Ham entertain Gus Poyet’s highly regarded Brighton at Upton Park. However after that Reading face Nottingham Forest and Crystal Pace at the Madjeski stadium, two highly winnable games. With West Ham’s dire recent home form of no wins in the last 5 home games suggesting that they are feeling the pressure of many fans’ expectation of automatic promotion and lack of belief in having Sam Allardyce as manager, I suspect Reading will do just enough to take the second spot. With Birmingham a shoe in for fourth place, realistically the fifth and sixth places are open for a battle between Brighton, Cardiff, and Blackpool. Middlesborough have a good outside chance with a relatively easy run in, but recent poor form of no wins in the last 8 games has probably done too much damage for too their campaign.

Blackpool, under Ian Holloway’s skilled stewardship, have recently hit good form and they are likely to make the playoffs, Cardiff, like last season, are having a few end of season jitters, but with a run in that pits them against teams who have nothing left to play for, they will likely gather enough points to see off the challenge of a Brighton team whose attractive football keeps on attracting the plaudits. After gaining promotion just last year Brighton fans should not be too disappointed, and if they hold onto their manager Gus Poyet, next season should be a season to look forward to.

In the play offs then with Birmingham and West Ham likely to finish third and fourth, thus avoiding each other, it is not too hard to imagine a Birmingham versus West Ham play off final. With the two teams desperate to retrieve their Premiership status at the first attempt it is likely that we will see a closely fought play off final that could be a classic. I suspect Sam Allardyce and West Ham’s experience will win over the day, but, whatever the outcome, Birmingham’s Chris Houghton will be able to feel proud of what he has achieved with a squad that went under some severe pruning after relegation last year, and they too can look forward positively to next season.

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  1. Spacey

    13 April, 2012 at 10:00

    “The second automatic place is between Reading and West Ham”

    Errrrr, and Southampton too!

  2. Jake

    13 April, 2012 at 12:05

    It seems we (saints) have already won the league and will win tonight, but that’s not the case. Reading are on a fine run of form but with a draw tonight for saints I think we’re up, our goal difference will be key to decide who goes up or who win the league, but you never know a slip up against Reading and a loss to Middlesbrough could leave saints hanging on by the skin of their teeth. But anyway COYR!!!!

  3. Bigga Gibba

    13 April, 2012 at 18:52

    Unless either team tonight find themselves two or three up at half time, the game will play itself out as a score draw securing both teams automatic promotion. As nice as the champions tag would be, I can’t see either team risking losing tonight.

    Having comfortably beaten those teams pushing for 5th & 6th away from home in the league, I’d expect my Hammers to make the Play Off final…albeit after another nervy home performance.

    As for their opponents, I can see Birmingham slipping up against Blackpool…leaving a lottery of a final. We’ve beaten Blackpool 8-1 over the two games this season so typically I’ll plump for a one nil Blackpool!

    Good luck to all involved.

  4. Jeff

    13 April, 2012 at 19:16

    Keep reading in places that Reading and Southampton will play for a draw. I don’t think Reading know how.

    May well end up a draw but only after both teams have gone for it a full 90 minutes

    Will be a good game and whoever wins tonight will probably be champions and hopefully the loser will finish as runner up.

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