It's probably fair to say that we're now looking at a case of two from the top four for automatic promotion (and someone, somewhere, somehow winning the title too) with another two from the remaining four teams to take the bottom two playoff spots alongside those who miss out on automatic promotion.
In fact, this post from Colin Trainor @colinttrainor highlights that point very nicely.
|Position||Team||Played||Won||Drawn||Lost||Goals For||Goals Against||Goal Difference||Points|
I made a lot of Eddie Howe's acquisition of Kenwyne Jones in my last post, wondering how he would fit in. The one scenario I failed to mention was set pieces.
Jones has been very dangerous for Cardiff from deadball situations this season, thanks in no small part to Peter Whittingham's wonderful left foot.
This may become a critical use for Bournemouth too.
Thus, with Ipswich leading 1-0 late in the second half on came Jones. Bournemouth shortly after won a corner, Jones beat his man to the near post area of the six yard box and with his first touch nodded in a powerful equaliser.
|Position||Team||Played||Shots for total||Shots against total||Corsi/TSR||shots on target for total||shots on target against total||Shots on target share||Shooting % For||Save %||PDO|
It's probably worth noting that Bournemouth did some serious damage to Ipswich's shot share (Corsi/TSR) and shots on target share with that game - much as they did to Middlesbrough the week before.
The circumstances were different (Ipswich's early goal meaning they could afford to sit back more and limit their attacking ambitions) but still Bournemouth are showing that they can boss matches against the top teams in the league - a good sign should they find themselves in the Premier League or the playoffs, come the evening of May 2.
In contrast, the other match-up between Derby and Watford turned in to a wild one.
Watford suffered their seventh sending-off (and conceded an equaliser from the suubsequent penalty) of the season, but I almost wonder if this really a bother to them. They've won so many points from being a man down it really is amazing.
I've mentioned this earlier in the season, but the obvious effects of being a man down so often have also hit Watford's shot metrics - the second half on Friday being a case in point.
However, Derby's woeful, wasteful shooting meant that despite dominating the shot share, it was the visitors who managed more shots on target.
Derby's collapse over the last few weeks really has been quite spectacular and the Rams have gone from title contenders to scrapping to even make the playoffs. According to the shot metrics this position is pretty much exactly where they should be, but the optics of a rather rapid PDO fall are no less jarring in real life.
Week 41 brings yet another top eight clash in Middlesbrough vs Watford. How much will Watford's 10-man exertions on Friday evening have exhausted the Hornets? Middlesbrough enjoyed a straightforward, if unspectacular, win over Wigan earlier that afternoon which could leave them much fresher.
With a tip of the hat to Brentford vs Nottingham Forest, that game at the Riverside Stadium is the one to watch in week 41.
Sadly though, this glut of all-top eight games in recent weeks means there will be precious few in the closing fixtures. And the Championship run-in will be all the poorer for it.
At the other end of the table, Blackpool's fate can be sealed this week. If the Seasiders fail to beat Reading on Tuesday night they will be officially relegated. Although it could all be academic at that point if Rotherham defeat Brighton on Monday afternoon. Millwall and Wigan are at least giving themselves some sort of chance, but its still a pretty substantial gap to make up.