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EFL Championship 2022 Promotion Battle

Mon 11 April 2022 | 7:30

With clubs reaching the deciding times of the season, 2021–22 EFL Championship comes to its peak of action as some clubs try to avoid relegation and others dream of reaching the top of the English Football League system. Here, we take an extended look at EFL Championship 2022 promotion battle.

The

EFL Championship

(sometimes known as the Sky Bet Championship for sponsorship reasons) is the highest division of the English Football League (EFL) and the second-highest in the English Professional Football system after the Premier League. A total of 24 clubs compete in the league, with EFL Championship teams 2021/22 playing 46 games in a total of the regular season, the top two gaining automatic promotion, and the other four next in the league going toe-to-toe in the play-offs in the end of the season.

With Fulham almost already winning the 2021–22 EFL Championship trophy and Bournemouth following 10 points, a 6-point gap between the second-placed Cherries and Nottingham Forest perhaps distance play-off competition from automatic promotion candidates. However, Nottingham still can hope for a slip from the top two to get their automatic promotion, but most likely, among all

EFL Championship teams 2021/22

, Nottingham are the most likely club to enter Championship Play-offs. Hosted between 3rd to 6th teams on the table, the four enter the semi-finals of the playoffs and eventually the finals, where they compete for the Championship Play-off trophy as well as a promotion to the Premier League. The clubs competing for spots in the play-offs are respectively Nottingham Forest, Huddersfield, Luton Town, Sheffield United, Blackburn Rovers, Middlesbrough, and Millwall.

Analyzing the spectacular clash of EFL Championship teams 2021/22, we take an immense look at the EFL Championship 2022 promotion battle in detail.

Everything You Should Know About EFL Championship 2022 Promotion Battle

Just six points separate the eight teams from third to 10th in the Championship table, with positions changing like the wind. The end game would typically be finishing in the top two, but with Fulham and Bournemouth looking near-certainties for automatic promotion to the Premier League, the aim for the chasing pack will be to ensure they finish between third and sixth to guarantee a place in the play-offs.

We take an extended look at all the teams who are struggling in the EFL Championship 2022 promotion battle, going through each considering their Premier League table position as the

2021–22 EFL Championship

season got all fans thrilled going through the final game weeks while deciding who end as the first two who gain automatic promotion, the more even interesting battle is between teams who fight for a place in top 6 of the table, gaining a spot in the Championship playoffs and the final historical match at Wembley that sums up the whole thrill of English football fans.

3rd. Nottingham Forest

  • Games Played:

    39

  • Points:

    67

  • Manager:

    Steve Cooper

  • Key Players:

    Keinan Davis, Djed Spence, James Garner, Brennan Johnson

  • Remaining Games:

    Luton (A), West Brom (H), N. Forest (A), Peterborough (A), Fulham (A), Swansea (H), Bournemouth (A), Hull (A)

A club that can still push to reach Bournemouth in their final 7 games, Nottingham Forest is the first to follow through EFL Championship 2022 promotion battle contenders. Chris Hughton began the season as Forest boss but unfortunately now holds claim to leading the side to its worst start to a season since 1913, losing six of the first seven games and drawing against Derby. Out went Hughton and in came former Swansea and England U17 coach Steve Cooper.

Since taking over at the City Ground on September 21, Forest have lost just four times in 27 games. Forest also have as many as three games in hand on some of their promotion rivals, so their table position could easily change within the space of one fixture. Perennial Championship golden boot contender Lewis Grabban is once again leading the team’s goalscoring charts with 13, but loanee striker Keinan Davis has also provided vital firepower up front.

Cooper has also overseen the rapid improvement of Welsh forward Brennan Johnson and defender Djed Spence, with the club swatting away several bids from Brentford in January to keep hold of Johnson amid their promotion push.

Once among the top blubs in whole system of

English Football League

with Brian Clough,

Nottingham Forest

has one league championship, two FA Cups, four League Cups, one FA Charity Shield, two European Cups, and one UEFA Super Cup to their credit.

With the exception of five seasons in the third division, the club has participated in the top two levels of English football since its entry into the Football League. Their most successful spell came in the late 1970s and early 1980s when Brian Clough and Peter Taylor led them to back-to-back European Cup victories in 1979 and 1980.

Forest won the 1989 and 1990 League Cups and were finalists in the 1991 FA Cup Last before being relegated from the Premier League in 1993, during Clough's final decade at the club. Forest returned to the Premier League in 1995, finishing third, before being relegated again in 1997 and, after a short comeback, once again in 1999. Forest hasn't played in the Premier League since then.

4th. Huddersfield Town

  • Games Played:

    40

  • Points:

    66

  • Manager:

    Carlos Corberan

  • Key Players:

    Lewis O'Brien, Danny Ward, Lee Nichols, Sorba Thomas

  • Remaining Games:

    Luton Town (H), QPR (H), Middlesbrough (A), Barnsley (H), Coventry (A), Bristol City (H)

The next club in the

EFL Championship 2022 promotion battle

, placed 4th in the table, is Huddersfield.

Huddersfield Town

boss Carlos Corberan endured a trial by fire in his first season as the Terriers boss, finishing six points clear of relegation and conceding a league-worst 71 goals. Before he had even arrived ahead of the 2020/21 season, Huddersfield has won just 17 of the 97 league and cup matches.

The former understudy of legendary manager Marcelo Bielsa, Corbean, has finally got his methods across to his team and up until the last two fixtures were on a 17-game unbeaten run. It’s living proof that sometimes you just have to weather the storm for smoother waters. Weak at defending, Huddersfield Town is more involved in attacking down the wings or creating long shot opportunities through short passes. Huddersfield Town and Luton Town will square off on Monday evening with just one point separating the promotion-chasing clubs in the Championship standings. Given the recent inconsistency of both teams, they head into the fixture at the John Smith's Stadium desperately requiring three points to maintain some distance between themselves and seventh position.

Despite sitting in the third position, however, Carlos Corberan will recognize that his club are not necessarily in a strong position with Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough possessing games in hands. Still, Huddersfield will ultimately dictate their own fate, Monday's fixture representing the first of three in succession against direct rivals for the playoffs. However, Huddersfield will be able to call upon Jonathan Hogg and Danny Ward after they missed the Hull game through illness.

5th. Luton Town

  • Games Played

    : 40

  • Points:

    65

  • Manager:

    Nathan Jones

  • Key Players:

    Kal Naismith, Elijah Adebayo, Sonny Bradley, Luke Berry, Tom Lockyer

  • Remaining Games:

    Fulham (A), Birmingham (A), Bournemouth (H), West Brom (A), Huddersfield (H), Stoke City (A)

This time a decade ago,

Luton Town

were in Conference Premiership, the fifth division of English football. Even just two seasons ago, the Hatters were hurtling towards relegation from the Championship but a win on the final day against Blackburn Rovers helped secure survival. Now, Luton can dare to dream. Having been muddled in the mid-table peloton for most of the season, a staggering run of nine wins in the last 13 games has gifted Nathan Jones’ side prime position for the play-offs. Elijah Adebayo has been crucial in driving Luton forward this season with 14 goals to his name.

Luton coming from behind on two occasions to draw with Millwall before they let slip a lead against bottom-placed Peterborough United in the closing stages last time out. Overall though, the Hatters have extended an unbeaten streak to four matches and collecting 11 points from a possible 18, a return which Jones and his squad would probably have taken at this stage of the campaign. Luton have also netted in their last 10 fixtures in the Championship, Elijah Adebayo recently reaching 15 goals for the campaign and the other strikes being shared around the squad.

Back in October, these two clubs played out a goalless draw at Kenilworth Road in a game which did not suggest that either of these clubs would be occupying third and fourth position ahead of the second weekend in April.

6th. Sheffield United

  • Games Played:

    41

  • Points:

    65

  • Manager:

    Paul Heckingbottom

  • Key Players:

    Morgan Gibbs-White, Jayden Bogle, Oliver Norwood, Billy Sharp, Sander Berge, Ben Davies

  • Remaining Games:

    Reading (H), Bristol City (A), Cardiff (H), QPR (A), Fulham (H)

After an extremely successful return to the Premier League in the 2019/20 season, the Blades came crashing back to Earth after finishing last a year later and sent plummeting back to the Championship. Former

Fulham

boss Slavisa Jokanovic was appointed as manager in the summer and brought high expectations given he achieved promotion with Fulham in 2018 and the squad at his disposal at Bramall Lane. However, they picked up right where they left off and lost three of the opening four games.

With Jokanovic being sacked, Paul Heckingbottom took up charge having been interim manager when Chris Wilder left the club last year. Since Heckingbottom stepped into the role, the Blades have won 11 and lost just three in their last 19 games.

Billy Sharp, a perennial clubhouse leader in the too good for the Championship but not good enough for the Premier League sweepstakes, is once again topping the club’s goalscoring charts with 14 and has been supplemented by Wolves loanee Morgan Gibbs-White with nine.

The club was formed in 1889, as an offshoot of Sheffield United Cricket Club. The nickname of the club is Blades, which refers to the history of Sheffield in the production of steel and metal products. Since the establishment of the club, The Blades play in Bramall Lane as their home ground. During their early days, they played in white shirts and blue shorts but after some time they changed to red shirts with white stripes. This 131-year old team has had some rivalries since their early days, the most notable rivalries are with their hometown neighbors Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United from West Yorkshire.

7th. Blackburn Rovers

  • Games Played:

    41

  • Points:

    63

  • Manager:

    Tony Mowbray

  • Key Players:

    Scott Wharton, Ben Brereton Diaz, Jan Paul van Hecke, Sam Gallagher, John Buckley

  • Remaining Games:

    Peterborough (A), Stoke (H), Preston (A), Bournemouth (H), Birmingham (A)

From 1992 until 2012, Blackburn spent just two seasons out of the Premier League. Not to mention they won it all in 1994/95 on the back of Alan Shearer scoring 34 league goals.

Since then, they’ve been muddled in the Championship and even had a one-season detour to League One. However, this might be the year they finally return to where the Ewood Park faithful believe they belong. A run of eight wins in 10 games in the middle of the season rocketed Blackburn up the table and was at one stage in the automatic promotion spots, but Tony Mowbray’s side has been in a patchy bit of form as of late.

Rovers, who have only won two of their past 13 games, stay two points outside the top six with five games remaining as this weekend Ekpiteta's side-foot finish just after half-time canceled out Sam Gallagher's early opener for the home side to end Blackburn Rovers derby clash against Blackpool as a 1-1 draw. Blackburn manager Tony Mowbray told after the match:

"We felt below our standard today and the dressing room is disappointed.

"Our back three have been our best players this year but they had a tough day today and the ball hung around our box too long. We take the point and move on and we've got five games to go."

8th. Middlesbrough

  • Games Played:

    40

  • Points

    : 62

  • Manager:

    Chris Wilder

  • Key Players: 

    Marcus Tavernier, Patrick McNair, Isaiah Jones, Matt Crooks

  • Remaining Games:

     Bournemouth (A), Huddersfield (H), Swansea (A), Cardiff (H), Stoke (H), Preston (A)

Middlesbrough went into the season with expectations of going up and rightly so. With promotion artist Neil Warnock at the helm, many predicted that a Premier League away on Teesside would return, but as it often goes in the Championship, things didn’t go to plan. Warnock’s quest for a record ninth promotion ended when he departed via mutual consent on November 6 with Middlesbrough sitting 14th, and that’s when the club became a competitor for

EFL Championship 2022 promotion battle

.

Entering the Riverside Stadium doors was

Chris Wilder

. With the former Blades man in charge, he’s lost only five of 19 games he’s managed. Australian football fans will be willing Boro on to the Premier League, with Socceroos midfielder Riley McGree a key member of the midfield.

Middlesbrough has a crucial cluster of fixtures in April, with four games in the space of 12 days including meetings with the current top three of Fulham, Bournemouth, and Huddersfield.

In short, it is almost impossible to predict. However, Chris Wilder is optimistic and happy with his squad as would love two Isaiah Joneses in the future, but for now, the Middlesbrough manager is pleased to at least have one.

“It’s a tight affair and (11th-placed) West Brom have come back flying into the affair,” reflected Wilder.

“I still think Bournemouth will get the job done, they’ve got too much quality and a manager (Scott Parker) who’s got the job done before, but I don’t think (third-placed) Huddersfield have got a cigar out at the moment thinking it’s job done and I don’t think West Brom, Coventry (12th) or Millwall (tenth) have given it up.

“It’s Huddersfield versus Luton (this weekend), Sheffield United versus Bournemouth, teams are playing each other. We have to make sure we take care of our business.

“I think you’re looking at 74, 75 points and you’d be extremely disappointed if you didn’t get in on that number. Teams have got to go on a good run, that’s the top and bottom of it.”

Boro are on 62 points, four behind Huddersfield and one ahead of Millwall. They have a game in hand on both.

9h. Millwall

  • Games Played:

    41

  • Points:

    61

  • Manager:

    Gary Rowett

  • Key Players:

    Shaun Hutchinson, Jack Cooper, Danny Ballard, Jed Wallace, Benik Afobe, Tom Bradshaw

  • Remaining Games

    : Preston (A), Hull (H), Birmingham (A), Peterborough (H), Bournemouth (A)

The last likely to still compete in

EFL Championship 2022 promotion battle

is the 9th placed Millwall.

Lions boss Gary Rowett is in his third season at The Den and has the team firmly within touching distance of the play-offs. A steely side that has conceded just 36 times, they do have their issues going forward and have scored only 39 goals this season. Only Hull City (20th), Barnsley (22nd), Peterborough (23rd), and Derby (24th) have scored fewer goals, so in many respects, it’s slightly remarkable they are where they are.

Tricky winger Jed Wallace is the lead man on the attacking front and will be key to Millwall’s playoff hopes if they somehow squeeze through a traffic jam of fellow contenders.

Millwall

, down in 9th spot, are just four points off sixth-placed Sheffield United ahead of Saturday's fixtures. In League One, the promotion picture is much tighter whilst trying to predict who will finish in the play-off spots in League Two is anyone's guess. Here, we look at the promotions and relegations that could occur across the three divisions this weekend.

Joel Piroe’s goal earned Swansea victory in SE16 and inflicted a first home loss on the Lions since January 15. However, their star fullback Danny McNamara refuses to rule out their promotion chances. He said:

“We have got six massive games coming up and we’re still not that far off the play-offs. It is still there for the taking, we’ve just got to give our all and we are going to do exactly that.

“Every single one of us was giving 100 percent and I can almost guarantee you that is the case with us every single week. We have to take that result on the chin.”

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