Premier League Promotion Race: Who’s Going Up?

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With two matches left before the official halfway mark of the season, it’s time to take a look at which Championship sides seem destined to make a run at Premier League Promotion. While some clubs have already placed themselves in contention for promotion, others have already fallen by the wayside.

Out of the three clubs relegated from the Premier League last season, only Norwich City sit in a position to possibly earn promotion back to top-flight. Both Fulham and Cardiff City sit mid-table, really in need of help. Other disappointments this season have been Reading (16th), Brighton (22nd), and Wigan (23rd).

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The biggest disappointment has to be Wigan. Predicted to finish third this season following last season’s fifth place finish, Wigan now languish in 23rd place, with only three wins in 21 matches. Brighton have also failed to live up to expectations, now sitting in the 22nd spot. Fulham also falls into this category, as the west London side were expected to challenge for promotion in their first season back in the Championship.

However, where there are clubs which have struggled to meet expectations, there are those who have surpassed theirs. Sides like League Leaders AFC Bournemouth, Middlesbrough (2nd), and Brentford have thus far exceeded their expected finishing positions.

The results are even more impressive for newly promoted side Brentford. Finishing second in League One last season, Brentford currently sit fifth — In the Promotion Playoff — and four points above seventh placed Norwich.

With the top seven separated by only six points, no team is safely into the playoffs. However, most of the playoff spots have names already engraved on them. Almost certainly, no club outside the league’s top eight have a real shot at automatic promotion. Before we take a look at those who can automatically be promoted from the Championship, let’s take a look at those who should make the promotion playoffs.

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With spots third through sixth being playoff positions, we take a look at those clubs with these spots on their radar. From First through twelfth in the standings, only nine points separate the clubs. Clubs like Cardiff City, Norwich City and Nottingham Forest will look to close the gap over the league’s second half. While others such as Brentford and Middlesbrough will hope to continue their strong form.

In the end however, the consistent clubs should be able to prevail. The stronger clubs will be able to win crucial matches when they need too, while the weaker clubs will slowly fade the longer the campaign continues.

Clubs already near the top like Derby County and Ipswich Town will hold on, and will take the first two playoff positions. Fifth place should be taken by Norwich City, while the final playoff spot will be won by Middlesbrough due in part to their strong first half.

Now, for the top two positions. Automatic Promotion will be taken by league leaders AFC Bournemouth and Watford. Both sides are experienced in the English Championship, and have both made the promotion playoffs in the last few seasons. Both squads will indeed succeed this season, and bring their supporters Premier League soccer next term. One name absent from this list in Brentford.

Brentford’s Cinderella story will not continue for the entirety of the campaign. The squad should eventually tire, and begin to fade. The club should be proud of how they have played so far, and strive to continue in that vein of form, but I cannot see this run going all the way. No matter what happens however, the second half looks set to be extremely exciting, and should be closely followed.