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Race for promotion. Whos heading to the Premier League
Published : 29 Mar 2012 14:32:50
The lucrative prize of promotion to the Premier League is once again at stake as a host of npower Championship clubs fight for the top.
Automatic promotion seems to be a clear three horse race between top side Southampton, in-form Reading and early season favourites West Ham United.
Southampton have been in the top two all season and are currently five points ahead of Reading and six of West Ham, with only 7 games left.
Many have already marked down the Saints as this seasons title winners, while Reading and West Ham fight for second spot.
The Royals travel to the Boleyn Ground on Saturday, with a huge three points up for grabs.
West Ham's poor home form has seen them slip from top spot down to third, while Reading have been in superb form and have climbed up above the Hammers.
With a huge budget and financial advantage many outsiders predicted they would run away with the League title this season, but it has not worked for them and fans have not taken to Sam Allardyce and his style of football.
Despite the 2-0 win away at Peterborough on Tuesday, many fans were heard chanting' We play on the floor, West Ham United, We play on the floor'.
Nigel Adkins' Southampton side have been well drilled and effective, with Championship top scorer Rickie Lambert, head and shoulders above the rest of the division.
The Saints have impressed this season, having only been promoted from League One last season they are hoping to follow in the footsteps of Norwich, who had achieved a similar experience last year.
Brian McDermott and his Reading side were in a similar situation this time last season and made a late surge for the play-offs before losing to Swansea in the final.
Despite losing top scorer Shane Long and Matt Mills in the summer, Reading have been in sensational form and have won 10 out of the last 12 league games.
As is normally the case with the Championship, this years play-off positions could go to any number of clubs.
The three remaining spots are currently occupied by Brighton, Middlesbrough and Birmingham but with only 6 points separating Birmingham from 14th placed Watford, another 8 clubs will still consider themselves to have a chance.
Blackpool and Cardiff remain level on points with the play-off contenders, while Hull, Leeds United, Leicester, Derby, Crystal Palace and Watford will all be hoping to make late surges for a spot in the play-offs.
With just 7 games remaining, expect the Championship season to go right to the wire, as clubs hope to hit the financial holy grail that is the Premier League.