Championship teams that could qualify for EPL 2017-18 season

Published 03/10/2017, 1:48 PM EST


The second division of English football, the SkyBet Championship, though not as glamorous as the Barclays Premier League, is still among the most popular football leagues . It is the wealthiest non-top flight football league in the world and the seventh richest league in Europe. Moreover, the teams battle to finish at the helm since the top teams at the end of the season are promoted to the prestigious and cash-rich English Premier League. The top two sides get a direct qualification, while the next four teams play in the Championship playoffs. The thirdplaced team plays against the sixthplaced team while the fourth placed plays against the fifthplaced one. The respective winners lock horns with each other to determine who will be the third team to make it to the top flight of English football.The Championship table currently looks as shown below:

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With the season nearing its end, here’s a look at the Championship teams who are most likely to qualify for the 2017-18 edition of the Premier League:

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Newcastle United:

Once among the elite clubs in England, Newcastle United were demoted to the second-tier of English football at the end of a dismal 2015-16 season. But, they have bounced back straightaway, as they currently occupy the first position in the table with 77 points from 36 games, which includes 24 wins, 5 draws and 7 losses. Their dominance in the league is implied by the fact that they have scored the most number of goals(69) as well as conceded the least(29). English Striker Dwight Gayle has been in prolific form for the magpies, having scored 21 goals so far. They are also on an unbeaten run of 13 games since their loss 1-0 against Blackburn Rovers on 2nd January 2017. As they will be facing just one among the top 6 teams in their remaining matches(Leeds United), we can see Rafa Benitez’s side in the English Premier League next season, in all likelihood.

Brighton & Hove Albion:

Brighton & Hove Albion haven’t plied their trade in the Premier League ever. After encountering near oblivion in the late 90’s due to mismanagement, they have been playing in the second and third tiers of English football. This season, they are more close to their Premier League debut than they have ever been. The seagulls are currently 2nd in the table with 74 points and, are the main challengers to Newcastle United for the Championship title with 10 games remaining. They have won 22 of their 36 games so far, drawing 8 and losing 6. Their defense has been solid, since they have conceded the second lowest number of goals(31), while Englishman Glenn Murray has given the necessary sharpness to their attack by netting 17 goals so far this season. If they keep the momentum going, a 2nd place finish and a direct qualification to the Premier League is the least they can get.

The Third Team:

Presently, the teams that occupy the Championship playoff spots are separated by not more than 3 points. Huddersfield Town, Leeds united, Reading and Sheffield Wednesday are currently the third, fourth, fifth and sixth teams in the Championship table with 68, 65, 64 and 62 points respectively. There’s decent gap between these teams and the 7th(Fulham with 57 points) and 8th(Norwich City with 53 points) teams, which makes it likely that there wouldn’t by any changes in the top six positions.

 

Huddersfield Town, who are yet to make their Premier League, have scored the least number of goals(49) among the top 9 teams in the Championship. However, they have ensured that they refrain from dropping more points than they can afford, as they have registered a win in 21 of their 36  fixtures. The attacking duo of Elias Kachunga and Naki Wells have scored the most goals for their team(19 in all).

Leeds United, who rivaled the likes of Manchester United in the late 90’s, were relegated from the Premier League in 2003 and have been in the doldrums ever since. They have been finishing in the bottom half of the Championship table successively for the past few years, while finishing in top half just once(5th in the 2005-06 season). Their performance this season though, has been much better comparatively. Riding on Championship’s current top scorer, Chris Wood’s 22 goals, Leeds United have given themselves a great shot at returning to the Premier League.

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Reading FC was demoted from the Premier League most recently in 2013, after making its Premier League debut in 2005. Due to poor performances, the club has barely managed to stay in the Championship in the last two seasons(they finished 19th and 17th in the last two seasons respectively). However, they have managed to get the points this season despite being inconsistent. They have conceded maximum number of goals among the top 7 teams(46) while none of their goalscorers has scored goals in double digits so far.

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Sheffield Wednesday, which is one of the oldest football clubs in the world, was relegated from the Premier League in 2000 and hasn’t graced it ever since. Their performance this season, which has been somewhat similar to Reading’s, could earn them a 2nd shot at returning to English top flight football in two years(they crashed out in the Championship playoffs after finishing 6th last season). They will be relying on their top scorer Sam Winnall and Fernando Martin Forestieri, who have scored 12 amd 11 goals respectively, to take them in to the Premier League in the remaining matches.

 

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Rajat Mohile

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