A testament to the strength of the Championship, that Newcastle United have won 10 and drawn 1 of their last 12 league games, yet could still be in just third spot (***hypothetically!) at 5pm on Saturday.
The current Championship table looks like this (current points total for each team):
31 Newcastle United
24 Sheffield Wednesday
23 Bristol City
All six top teams play today in the following fixtures:
Preston v Newcastle
Brighton v Norwich
Fuham v Huddersfield
Derby v Sheffield Wednesday
Barnsley v Bristol City
I was quite surprised when I looked at the league table to see that both Brighton and Huddersfield could join us at the top, if things go wrong at Preston today.
(***) Newcastle will of course stay top regardless, unless crazy things happen on the goals front, currently NUFC have a 10 goal difference advantage over Brighton and 15 over Huddersfield.
However, this does feel at the moment that today and next weekend (Cardiff at St James Park) before yet another international break, could be pivotal in a real gap opening up.
These are the best and worst case scenarios of how the Championship could look at 5pm later today.
Best (Newcastle win, everybody else loses apart from Brighton v Norwich a draw):
34 Newcastle United
24 Sheff Wed
23 Bristol City
Worst (Newcastle lose and everybody else wins apart from Norwich losing to Brighton):
27 Sheff Wed
26 Bristol City
The extremes of the two positions are quite…extreme.
At worst being joined by both Huddersfield and Brighton, whilst at the same time there is a possibility of going six points clear in automatic promotion places (ahead of third) and 10 points ahead of fifth.
Everything to play for at this stage and hopefully the team can show that missing Dwight Gayle isn’t a problem today at Preston.