Race To The Premier League: Who Will Come Out On Top In The Championship Play-Offs?

Race To The Premier League: Who Will Come Out On Top In The Championship Play-Offs?
May 1, 2017

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After Leeds’ 3-3 draw against Norwich, the Top 6 of the Championship has been confirmed barring a 13 goal swing between Leeds and Fulham, who will otherwise finish 6th. The order of the teams is yet to be confirmed but it is a certainty that Reading, Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield and Fulham will all have the opportunity to play in the final at Wembley and reach the pot of gold at the end of the Championship rainbow; the Premier League. But, which teams will join Brighton and Newcastle as the third promoted team?

Reading

 

Currently third in the Championship, the Royals have enjoyed a fine season in Jaap Stam’s first season as a manager. They finish their season away to Burton Albion and will look to kick off their play-off campaign at Craven Cottage as the third placed team, a far cry from last season’s 17th placed finish. They have a knack of grinding out results but have also suffered bemusing defeats such as their 7-1 mauling by mid-table Norwich and their 3-2 defeat to relegation battling Nottingham Forest.

Their best player this season has been veteran French frontman Yann Kermorgant, whose 17 goals have earned him a 7.41 WhoScored rating; higher than any other Reading player. Jamaican winger Garath McCleary has also caught the eye with 9 goals and 9 assists marking him out as one of the Championship’s top attackers. The defensive partnership of captain Paul McShane and Liam Moore has also been key with the pair earning WhoScored ratings of 7.08 and 7.15 respectively. Having previously made it to the 2010-11 play-off final, they will hope to avoid a repeat of the match which saw Swansea lead 3-0 at half time.

Sheffield Wednesday

 

Last season’s beaten play-off finalists, the Owls have kept up last season’s form and will likely play Huddersfield Town in the semi-finals, barring a Reading slip-up at the Pirelli. They host 6th placed Fulham to close their season, a fixture which may well be the play-off final. Wednesday’s strength lies in their defence, they can boast the best defence outside of the top two and Kieren Westwood has more clean sheets than any other goalkeeper in the play-off places. The team’s top performers are unsurprisingly defensive with WhoScored marking defenders Tom Lees and Sam Hutchinson as two of their top three performers.

The other is the talismanic Fernando Forestieri whose 12 goals makes him top scorer for the Yorkshire club. Carlos Carvalhal, brought in to the club to win promotion for the 2017-18 season – the 150th year of the club’s existence – remains on course to achieve his goal.

Huddersfield Town

 

Very much the surprise outfit of the championship this season, former U.S. international and Borussia Dortmund II manager David Wagner has quickly established himself as one of the standout championship managers. He has introduced a slick passing style to the Terriers and lifted them from 19th in 15-16 to automatic promotion chasers for a majority of the 16-17 season.

They hold the best record against the top 7 sides in the championship which makes them many pundits’ favourite to reach the promised land. Aaron Mooy is their main man and the Australian has marked his first season in Europe with an appearance in the Championship team of the season. The development of the Yorkshire outfit is shown by no player more than right back Tommy Smith. Previously unremarkable, the Englishman has racked up 10 assists from right back and is one of their prized assets.

Fulham

 

A late contender for promotion, the West London club have taken advantage of Leeds’ collapse to force their way into championship promotion contention. Their form makes them many bookies’ favourites for promotion and their attack is the championship’s most prolific with goals from across the pitch with captain Tom Cairney scoring 12 and assisting 10, midfielder Stefan Johansen scoring 11 and assisting 8, striker Sone Aluko scoring 8 and assisting 10, winger Floyd Ayite scoring 9 and assisting 7 and striker Chris Martin scoring 10.

One of their gems this season has been 16-year-old Ryan Sessegnon. The full-back has made the championship team of the season alongside Cairney and has been linked with Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur. Slavisa Jokanovic has clearly had an impact at Craven Cottage and will be hoping for a second promotion in 3 seasons having previously gotten Watford to the top flight.

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