A look at the Championship relegation run-in
(Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

With just ten games remaining, League One looms large for three Championship sides. 

As many as eight teams are still involved in a relegation scrap, here VAVEL takes a look at the run-in for the teams in danger and analyses which sides have the best chance of Championship football next campaign.

  • 24th: Luton Town

Remaining Fixtures-

Wigan Athletic (A)
Preston North End (H)
Swansea City (A)
Leeds United (A)
Reading (H)
Barnsley (H)
Huddersfield Town (A)
Queens Park Rangers (H)
Hull City (A)
Blackburn Rovers (H)

Average position of opposition- 13th

Promoted from League One last campaign, The Hatters have met expectations this season spending the majority of gameweeks in and around the relegation zone.

Manager Graeme Jones has been unable to defy the odds, with Town looking increasingly likely to fall back into the third tier. Despite sitting bottom, their recent form makes for pleasant reading.

They have lost just one of their last five games- including wins against promotion challenging Brentford and clean sheets against Sheffield Wednesday and Middlesbrough.

Their next ten games will be make or break however, with four games against fellow strugglers inside the bottom eight. If Luton can edge out relegation battles in these matches, they may find themselves closer to survival than expected before the season kicked-off in August.  

Fitness of creative playmaker Izzy Brown has been an issue throughout the campaign, if the Chelsea loanee can string together a run of performances, Luton may have enough to stay up, however, the odds are stacked well against the Bedfordshire side.

  • 23rd: Barnsley

Remaining Fixtures-

Cardiff City (H)
Queens Park Rangers (A)
Millwall (H)
Blackburn Rovers (H)
Stoke City (A)
Luton Town (A)
Wigan Athletic (H)
Leeds United (A)
Nottingham Forest (H)
Brentford (A)

Average position of opposition- 12th

Another side promoted from League One last season, Barnsley split opinion in the summer with their bold recruitment strategy which saw fourteen new signings enter the club this season. Half of these were from the continent, the other half English youngsters who had never before played at this level.

The risk has apparently failed for The Tykes. Promotion winning manager Daniel Stendel was sacked in early October and replaced by Austrian Gerhard Struber with the Yorkshire club remaining inside the bottom three throughout the campaign.

The club has by far the youngest average starting eleven in the Championship, and it appears they will be made to pay for their inexperience. 

The crucial stage in the next ten games for Barnsley will be their three successive games against Stoke, Luton, and Wigan- three sides also in danger of League One football. If they hope to lift themselves outside the bottom three, beating the teams around them will be vital, especially considering their final three games of the season are Leeds, Forest, and Brentofrd- three sides aiming for Premier League football.

With such a tough final three fixtures, it looks unlikely Barnsley can keep themselves in the second tier beyond this campaign.

Embed from Getty Images

  • 22nd: Middlesbrough

Remaining Fixtures-

Charlton Athletic (A)
Swansea City (H)
Stoke City (A)
Hull City (A)
Queens Park Rangers (H)
Millwall (A)
Bristol City (H)
Reading (A)
Cardiff City (H)
Sheffield Wednesday (A)

Average position of opposition- 14th

Jonathan Woodgate’s first season of management has not gone according to plan. The former Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur defender is an icon at his boyhood club Middlesbrough, something that often fails to translate into managerial success.

This time last season Middlesbrough were clinging on to a play-off spot, a whole twenty points better off than this campaign.

Winless since New Year’s Day, Boro are in free-fall, dropping from sixteenth, ten points clear of the bottom three, to inside the relegation zone and looking unconvincing in each encounter.

With their home form significantly better than their away form, Boro will be hurt by the fact only four of their remaining matches take place at the Riverside Stadium.

With strikers Ashley Fletcher and Britt Assombalonga struggling with injuries, attention has turned to target man Rudy Gestede, whose two goals this season make him an unlikely saviour for the North Yorkshire club.

  • 21st: Stoke City

Remaining Fixtures-

Hull City (H)
Reading (A)
Middlesbrough (H)
Wigan Athletic (A)
Barnsley (H)
Leeds United (A)
Birmingham City (H)
Bristol City (A)
Brentford (A)
Nottingham Forest (A)

Average position of opposition- 13th

Stoke City’s relegation from the Premier League has been hardhitting for the team that not so long ago challenged the European spots in the topflight. Starting the season under Welsh gaffer Nathan Jones, Stoke quickly parted company after just two wins in their opening fourteen matches.

Michael O’Neill did well to resurrect the Potters, carrying them out of the relegation zone towards safety. However, consistency has been the issue for the Staffordshire side who still remain in touching distance of the bottom three.

The next five matches are huge in Stoke’s survival chances. The average position of the sides faced in their next five games is 20th. A huge difference compared to an average position of seventh in their final five games of the season, fourth if you remove their fixture against Birmingham City.

A strong performance in the next five could well move Stoke out of the relegation scrap and leave the fighting to the teams around them. However, current form is an issue. O’Neill’s men have won just one of their last five outings, something that needs to be turned around if they are to stand any chance of survival.

Embed from Getty Images

  • 20th: Charlton Athletic

Remaining Fixtures-

Middlesbrough (H)
Hull City (A)
Queens Park Rangers (H)
Cardiff City (A)
Millwall (H)
Brentford (A)
Reading (H)
Birmingham City (A)
Wigan Athletic (H)
Leeds United (A)

Average position of opposition- 13th

In the opening months of the league, Charlton took the division by storm. The London side went the opening six games undefeated and sat inside the top two. However, it’s been all downhill since then and Lee Bowyer’s men are in danger of dropping back into League One immediately.

The Addicks currently sit just one point above the bottom three, with their next match at home to Middlesbrough crucial in the relegation battle. Form wise, Charlton have lost four of their last six, yet managed an impressive win against Nottingham Forest away from home and an expected win against bottom of the table Luton.

Charlton have failed to win back to back games since the end of August, something they may need to correct going into the final ten games of the season.

Regardless of the next nine matches, Charlton will be hoping all is wrapped up before the last game of the season. The Addicks travel to Elland Road to face a Leeds side vying for Premier League football. The game could be a Championship classic with both sides playing for their future.

  • 19th: Wigan Athletic

Remaining Fixtures-

Luton Town (H)
Huddersfield Town (A)
Blackburn Rovers (H)
Stoke City (H)
Brentford (A)
Queens Park Rangers (H)
Barnsley (A)
Hull City (H)
Charlton Athletic (A)
Fulham (A)

Average position of opposition- 15th

In their Premier League years, Wigan garnered a reputation for carrying out a great escape. They survived apparent odds on relegation under various managers including Paul Jewell, Steve Bruce, and Roberto Martinez.

However, Premier League football has been absent from the DW Stadium for over seven years now and the club has lingered in the third tier and bottom half of the second tier rather than threatening promotion back to the big time.

This year has been no different, and the element of a great escape is back on in Lancashire. Eight games ago Paul Cook’s side sat 23rd, six points away from safety and the likeliness of relegation looming large.

However, just one loss and wins against the top two West Bromwich Albion and Leeds United later, the Latics are nineteenth, two points above the drop. Fans will be hoping current form continues and the current crop of players will replicate the likes of Hugo Rodallega and Paul Scharner to pull off another survival spectacle in Wigan.  

Wigan seemingly have an easier run-in than the teams around them and with form on their side, chances are they have enough to avoid League One football. 

  • 18th: Hull City

Remaining Fixtures-

Stoke City (A)
Charlton Athletic (H)
Birmingham City (A)
Middlesbrough (H)
West Bromwich Albion (A)
Bristol City (A)
Millwall (H)
Wigan Athletic (A)
Luton Town (H)
Cardiff City (A)

Average position of opposition- 15th

At the start of January, Hull fans would have struggled to believe they would be in the relegation conversation come March.

A win against Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday on New Year’s Day put the Tigers two points off the play-offs and ninth in the table. An ever-growing injury list and two devastating Deadline Day deals later and Hull are in freefall.

The Humberside club have failed to win since January 1st, and a 4-0 home loss to Leeds United at the weekend clarified the club is in danger. Whilst the sales of star men Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki have had much to do with Hull’s poor form, injuries have played their part as well as a tough run of fixtures.

Now sitting, 18th, Hull are looking anxiously over their shoulder as the teams below begin to pick up points. No team has conceded more than Hull over the last ten games and Grant McCann’s side are on a downward spiral to League One.

The one positive factor for the Tigers is they play five teams below them in the table before the end of the season. Yet with no sign of fight left, it’s looking increasingly likely Hull will be pulled into a relegation scrap they did not expect to be part off.

A relegation for Hull would mean they will return to the third tier for the first time in over fifteen years.

Embed from Getty Images

  • 17th: Huddersfield Town

Remaining Fixtures-

Leeds United (A)
Wigan Athletic (H)
Nottingham Forest (A)
Birmingham City (A)
Preston North End (H)
Reading (A)
Luton Town (H)
Sheffield Wednesday (A)
West Bromwich Albion (H)
Millwall (A)

Average position of opposition- 11th

It was in March last year that Huddersfield’s relegation from the topflight was confirmed, joining a club of just Derby County and Ipswich Town to be relegated from the Premier League with six games still to play.

Now sitting four points above the relegation zone, the Terriers have given themselves more chance of survival this campaign. However, it didn’t seem that would be the case at the start of this season. German manager Jan Siewert was sacked in August, as Huddersfield began the season with nine games without a win.

Sibling managerial due Danny and Nicky Cowley subsequently joined the Yorkshire outfit and moved Huddersfield away from the relegation zone. However, remnants of poor form and confidence have stuck with the side and Town are still amongst the teams scrapping it out at the bottom of the table.

Their last two outings show signs of promise, a 4-0 thrashing of Charlton and a victory against play-off contenders Bristol City. Yet their next run of fixtures is tough, taking on four of the top six including both of the top two.  

It may prove that there are too many teams in between Huddersfield and the drop zone for the West Yorkshire side to drop back into League One. However, they face six games on the road in their last ten and having won just four away from The John Smiths Stadium all season, it may be a daunting task for Cowley’s men to pick up points away from home.

  • The Verdict-

Based on average position of the opposition, Huddersfield have the toughest run-in of the bottom eight whereas Wigan and Hull have the easiest.

Whilst Luton and Barnsley have shown resurgence in recent weeks, it is highly unlikely the bottom two will be able to bridge the five point gap to safety, especially considering they meet on the penultimate game of the season.

Boro and Hull are the two sides in relegation form. Winless since New Years Day, their fixture on 21st March could be a crucial game in how the bottom three shapes up.

Stoke have the potential to move themselves away form danger in the next five games where they play four of the other sides mentioned in the relegation run-in. O’Neill will be hoping this is the case before their final five fixtures which include Leeds, Forest, and Brentford.

Wigan are another club whose future is in their own hands. They play five sides mentioned in the relegation run-in, if they can force their rivals to drop points Paul Cook’s men may pull off another famous Wigan escape.

Huddersfield Town could be out of it considering that most the sides below them in table face-off against each other several times over the next ten. However, it’s likely the Terriers will drop points due to their difficult fixture list.

VAVEL Logo