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31 December 1969

Owls Blog - The Run In

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    Owls blogger Ben Wier returns to the line up at Wednesdayite.com as the 2012-13 Championship relegation fight draws closer to its conclusion.  Ben is 20 years old and lives in Colchester, Essex and when he's not there he's in Sheffield attending the University of Sheffield where he studies Journalism.  

    Ben's Dad is from Sheffield and has been a Wednesday fan, like himself, all his life. He took him to his first Wednesday game at Hillsborough during the 1998-99 season where the Owls drew 0-0 with Chelsea and despite no goals, in his own words "I was hooked".  One of his favourite Wednesday goals witnessed live was Matt Hamshaw's mesmeric goal vs Watford in the League Cup Quarter Final in 2001 when we won 4-0.  His favourite players over the years have been Chris Brunt, Jermaine Johnson and John-Paul McGovern.

    "After Bristol City’s relegation to League One on Tuesday night, there are now only two more relegation spots left in the Championship, current occupants are Barnsley and Huddersfield. With three games remaining (for most teams), 15 teams can still mathematically go down, but who will be joining the Robins in the 3rd tier of English football?

    With many people suggesting that 56 points will be enough to stay up (ridiculous considering you only needed 41 points last season in the Championship), 14th to 23rd are yet to reach this total. If we take a look at these teams’ final remaining fixtures, will they manage to reach the magic 56 mark?

    Well, in 14th on 55 points is Blackpool’s beach football team, their remaining fixtures are Brighton (A), Derby (H) and Bolton (A). With both Brighton and Bolton tricky games, the home game against Derby will be crucial for their survival hopes. Needing only one point to reach 56 point though, a win at home to fellow strugglers Derby could see them easily cross the line with a game to spare.

    This leads us onto Derby County in 15th, also on 55 points, who have not won in three games (all against relegation rivals). Peterborough (H), Blackpool (A), and Millwall (H) is their run-in… 3 games against further relegation rivals, could Derby be a dark horse to go down? Peterborough are currently in lightning form having not lost in 10 games, a loss at home to Posh could start a slide for the Rams. Blackpool away will also be a tricky game with the current state of the Tangerine’s pitch whilst Millwall also have 10 points from their past six away games. Every game for Derby now are 6 pointers where losing cannot be an option. County have shown great faith in Nigel Clough over the past seasons, he needs to ensure he returns the favour.

    Next up is Millwall in 16th, also on 55 points. Due to their great run to the FA Cup Semi-Finals, the Lions have five games remaining; Huddersfield (A), Blackburn (H), Nottingham Forest (H), Crystal Palace (H) and Derby (A). Millwall’s home form is one of the worst in the league this season but with the extra games in hand, Kenny Jackett’s men should have more than enough to stay up.

    17th is occupied by Burnley on 54 points, who have slowly been moving down the table after being 7th at the start of February. To stay up they will have to do it without top goalscorer Charlie Austin (28 goals this season) after he was ruled out for the rest of the season after having his appendix removed. Goals could become a major issue for Burnley for the rest of the season with their next top goalscorer being Northern Ireland international Martin Paterson with 6 goals. Their final remaining games are Cardiff (H), Wolves (A), and Ipswich (H). I feel the six pointer vs. Wolves will be crucial for their survival, games against Cardiff and Ipswich could go either way with Cardiff having nothing to play for and Ipswich being potentially in the same boat by then. Without Austin, it could be a nervy end to the season at Turf Moor.

    The mighty Sheffield Wednesday are in 18th, also on 54 points with a run-in of Ipswich (H), Peterborough (A) and Middlesbrough (H). Have we got enough in the tank? Let’s hope so! First up is Ipswich Town who have been in fine form since new manager Mick McCarthy replaced Paul Jewell in November. If the table was judged from when he was appointed manager (31 games ago), the Tractor Boys would be 4th in the table. They have also only conceded three goals in their past 10 games. The only saving grace for us is that Town’s away record isn’t great, with one win in their past six away games. We have also seen a slow upturn in our home form recently… a draw could be on the cards though. Next up is Peterborough. As I said earlier, Posh haven’t lost in 10 games… another tricky game awaits. Finally, Middlesbrough at home will close out the season, a potential three points is achievable, Boro have lost seven in their last 10 and haven’t won away from home since December. I’d like to think we could go into the last game with nothing to play for, but that just wouldn’t be the Wednesday way. I don’t want to over rely on Jermaine Johnson, but if the Jamaican can keep putting in Man of the Match performances, then we should reach the magic 56 mark and stay up (touch wood). If he doesn’t do this, I’m not saying we’ll go down, but an in-form JJ would be so beneficial for us and reduce the nerves a bit!

    Former Premier League champions and manager-less Blackburn Rovers are up next in 19th place with 53 points, 2 points above the drop zone. Due to Millwall’s FA Cup commitments, they have four games left; Watford (A), Millwall (A), Crystal Palace (H) and Birmingham (A). Having won their past two games to bring an end a terrible run of form, Blackburn will be slightly more confident of staying in the Championship. Having watched them at Hillsborough only a few games ago though, they were woeful, despite scoring twice. Their only game plan was to try and feed top goalscorer Jordan Rhodes, a plan they couldn’t really accomplish due to lack of creativity in midfield. With one of the worst away records in the league, Rovers are unlikely to get even a point away to high flyers Watford. Then, the worst away record will go up against two of the worst home records in Millwall and Birmingham. These two games will be critical for Rovers’ survival chances, whilst trying to pick a winner for Palace at home is near impossible due to the Eagles’ inconsistency. Due to the premier league quality of some of their players, I feel Blackburn will have just enough to beat the drop.

    Peterborough United are 20th on 51 points with Derby (A), Wednesday (H) and Crystal Palace (A) being their final fixtures. I have spoken of Peterborough greatly earlier on so my views on their survival chances must be clear. Two away wins and a draw against us is how I predict the finish to their season and thus subsequently staying up. Posh are one of the league’s in form teams currently and I have no qualms in them beating the drop.

    In 21st and occupying the final non-relegation position is Wolverhampton Wanderers, also on 51 points. Having won five of their last eight games, the faith in Dean Saunders has slightly improved. A great win at home to promotion chasers Hull on Tuesday night has only strengthened that faith. Charlton (A), Burnley (H) and Brighton (A) are their remaining fixtures… can Wolves avoid a second successive relegation? Charlton away could provide them with a potential three points due to the Addicks’ poor home form whilst Burnley at Molineux may also bring a further three points due to the Clarets terrible end to the season. Brighton are currently in the play-offs though and I can only see one winner at the Amex Stadium. Wolves will have to hope they are safe by then.

    We now enter the relegation zone with 22nd Huddersfield Town, another team on 51 points. The Terriers have arguably the easiest run-in out of anyone with Millwall (H), Bristol City (A) and Barnsley (H). Unfortunately, Town’s home record isn’t much to be desired, the complete opposite to Millwall on the road. The FA Cup Semi Finalists may fancy their chances at the John Smith’s stadium. Bristol City away though is likely to provide three points for ‘Udders though, the Yorkshire team have won three of their last six away games. Finally, Barnsley at home is likely to decide which two go down. A win for either could potentially keep them up, a draw will more than likely condemn them both to League One.

    Finally, Barnsley are 23rd, occupying the second relegation spot, on 50 points. The Tykes were thumped 6-0 at home to Charlton at the weekend and then conceded a last minute equaliser to Derby on Tuesday night. The Reds appeared to be dead and buried earlier in the season, yet only a few games ago, they were two points clear of the relegation zone with a game in hand. Topsy-turvy doesn’t do justice to their season. Their final three games are Nottingham Forest (A), Hull (H) and Huddersfield (A). They will be lucky to come away from the City ground with even a point after the way Billy Davies has Forest playing. Then a visit from automatic promotion placed Hull may also be pointless with the trip to Huddersfield being potentially meaningless by then. Barnsley need a return to the form when David Flitcroft took over the reins at the club back in January to have any chance of survival. They have proved many people wrong in the past though, could they do it once again?

    Whoever goes down, they can count themselves very unlucky with the Championship being one of the craziest leagues in the world. The lower end of the table has been very tight all season with at least 10 teams still scrapping it out. The music will only stop three more times though, and if you aren’t on a chair that final time, you will have to find a space on the floor of League One.

    Predicted table:
    14th – Millwall – 62 points (WDLLW)
    15th - Sheffield Wednesday – 59 points (DDW)
    16th - Peterborough United – 58 points (WDW)
    17th - Blackburn Rovers – 57 points (LDDW)
    18th - Wolverhampton Wanderers – 57 points (WWL)
    19th - Blackpool – 56 points (LDL)
    20th - Derby County – 56 points (LDL)
    21st - Burnley – 55 points (LLD)
    22nd - Huddersfield Town – 55 points (LWD) (Go down on goal difference)
    23rd - Barnsley – 51 points (LLD)

    Relegation Odds: (Sky bet)
    Barnsley – 4/7
    Wolves – 10/11
    Huddersfield – 13/8
    Peterborough – 13/8
    Blackburn – 7/1
    Sheffield Wednesday – 18/1
    Burnley – 22/1
    Millwall – 40/1
    Blackpool – 50/1
    Derby – 50/1"


    Follow Ben on Twitter @benjaminwier


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