Sky Sports pundit Andy Hinchcliffe thinks the automatic promotion race is set to get a little more interesting after this weekend’s results.
It is a strange set of fixtures as top placed Newcastle face second bottom Wigan, second top Brighton play third bottom Blackburn, whilst third top Huddersfield face fourth bottom Burton, all the top three at home.
Andy Hinchcliffe says that if it was mid-season, you’d think the top three would win ‘no problem’.
However, the pressure is now on for those at the top, combined with those at the bottom fighting for their lives.
To sum it up, out of the last 18 points Newcastle have managed 9, Brighton 9 and Huddersfield 10.
In contrast, of their last 18 matches combined, this weekend’s opponents have only lost two of them.
As Hinchcliffe points out, Blackburn are unbeaten in their last seven Championship matches and have recovered from what looked a hopeless position to be now just one point off safety.
A draw for Brighton and wins for Newcastle and Huddersfield, would leave Chris Hughton’s team only four points ahead of third with David Wagner’s players having a game in hand.
With two defeats to Blackburn (though they only had one effort on target in each), Newcastle have been on the receiving end this season.
With Wigan and Burton at home within four days of each other, Newcastle can’t afford to pass this golden chance up, of moving to almost within touching distance of the Premier League.
Jonathan Oakes and Andy Hinchcliffe speaking on the Sky Sports weekly EFL podcast:
“At the top of the Championship, very interesting fixtures for the top three on Saturday.
“They all play at home against teams fighting for their lives: Newcastle against Wigan, Brighton against Blackburn, Huddersfield against Burton.
“We saw before the international break Bristol City beating Huddersfield 4-0, Brighton lost 3-0 to Nottingham Forest, and Bristol City got a draw at Newcastle not so long ago.
“So you never know, these three just can’t slip up can they?”
“This is why the Championship is so fascinating, at this stage of the season when games are running out.
“So important that you win and even more important that you win your home games.
“I think halfway through the season, these three at home against this opposition, you would say no problem.
“The teams that are fighting for their lives though, can produce these great performances against the top sides.
“I do think that Brighton have probably got the hardest game, even though they are very strong at home. Blackburn are unbeaten in seven and have drawn their last four.
“I can easily see them picking a point up at the Amex.
“That could be a really deciding game for Brighton because if Huddersfield could win, Newcastle win and Brighton slip up, it could make it very interesting at the top.”