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Championship - Football: Ups and downs move ever closer

The traditional Easter weekend kicks off with Championship fixtures across Good Friday, as a number of teams could move closer to either promotion or relegation.

Fulham are sitting pretty at the summit and could move to the brink of the Premier League if they defeat Derby County on Friday, themselves desperate to avoid dropping down to League One.

Bournemouth - 1/12 to be promoted - will be seeking to consolidate second in the table with plenty of teams chasing them if they slip up - Nottingham Forest being the prime example.

Meanwhile, defeat for Peterborough United against Blackburn Rovers could all but consign them to League One football next season.

Championship Standings

PositionTeamPlayedPoints
1

Fulham

4083
2

Bournemouth

3973
3

Huddersfield Town

4169
4

Nottingham Forest

3967
5

Luton Town

4165
6

Sheffield United

4165
7

Blackburn Rovers

4163
8

Middlesbrough

4062

Cottagers aim for another big win

This has been a magnificent season for Fulham and it has in some ways been a slice of redemption for Marco Silva.

Many questions were posed of the Portuguese when he let Everton, with some wondering whether he was really cut out for English football.

This season, his Cottagers side have dominated the Championship and are still on to finish with over 100 points if they win their six remaining games.

Aleksandar Mitrovic's almost freakish goal return has helped put them ten points clear of Bournemouth in second and they can take another big step towards the top-flight with a win against Derby.

Wayne Rooney's men have fought valiantly against the odds to try and preserve their Championship status this season, but it appears as though they are running out of time and luck.

To their credit, the Rams are usually very strong at home, losing only one of their previous ten games, but they are now nine points adrift of safety and probably need to win all five games to stay up.

They are priced at 19/4 to defeat the Cottagers, with the draw available at 3/1, while Mitrovic is 11/4 to open the scoring.

Cherries face tough Boro test

Occupying second place are Bournemouth, with Scott Parker hoping to be the one to take them back to the Premier League after a two-year absence.

Parker's move from Fulham to Bournemouth last summer was a bit of an eyebrow-raiser but it has worked out well so far and they are in a good position.

However, perhaps it could be argued the jitters are beginning to set in - the Cherries have tasted victory only three times in their last eight matches and have failed to score in either of their last two.

Not being promoted from this position would be regarded as a failure, given how much money they spent in the summer and particularly January to try and seal a top-flight return.

Parker does have previous experience of taking a team up and he will certainly be relying on that to help.

Friday's game is another tough assignment though as they welcome a Middlesbrough side who themselves are scrapping desperately to secure a play-off spot and who are 10/11 to end up in the top six.

Chris Wilder's appointment has been an unqualified success at the Riverside, with the experienced Yorkshireman already implementing his unique brand of football.

However, they, like Bournemouth, have also chosen the wrong time of the season to have a few too many off days and they have been beaten 1-0 at home by Fulham and Hull City in their last two.

The indifferent form of both sides may contribute to this being a cagey affair, with the draw 23/10 and a 1-1 final scoreline priced at 11/2.

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Posh sliding towards the drop

While they would not be mathematically down, Peterborough's fate could be sealed on Friday if they lose at home to play-off chasing Blackburn and Reading win away at Sheffield United.

Posh's vastly inferior goal difference would extinguish any faint hopes of staying up and would be another disappointing chapter in the club's Championship history.

There was much optimism at the start of the season as Darren Ferguson was handed another crack at Championship management with Posh, but the same defensive problems reared their heads once again.

That, combined with a lack of goals, was always going to be a disastrous combination and they, like Derby, might have to win all their remaining games left to complete was would be a miraculous recovery.

Grant McCann returned for a second spell earlier this season, but his remit is all about their likely rebuild in League One.

With this in mind, Blackburn - 2/1 to fiinish in the top six - should feel confident but their disappointing 2022 has seen them slide down to seventh in the Championship table.

They have only managed to win twice since January and have not won any game away from home since January 15th.

That has coincided with the Ben Brereton-Diaz well of goals drying up and Blackburn need him to try and rediscover the goalscoring touch that made him such a coveted player in January.

Peterborough are available at 15/4 to earn a victory, with Rovers at 3/4 and 13/5 to win by a one-goal margin.

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