The Championship: Battle to avoid the drop heats up

Champ

Who will we see relegated from the Championship this term?

The Championship is one of the most entertaining leagues in the world. Season after season the quality improves, with any team possessing the capabilities to beat anyone else on a Saturday afternoon.

This time out we've seen the likes of Leeds, Norwich, Sheffield United and West Brom all dominate proceedings at the top of the summit, while Tony Pulis' Middlesbrough, Frank Lampard's Derby County and Lee Johnson's Bristol City all remain close by in pole position to reach the playoffs come May.

With just six points separating sixth placed Derby from 13th placed Swansea City as things stand, the league is once again so evenly poised as we head into the final four months of the campaign.

At the bottom things are also extremely tight, with as many as six teams in realistic danger of dropping into League One.

Below, we've taken a look at each of these sides, analysing their season so far and their chances of staying in the division next term. As always, don't forget to let us know your thoughts @FootyAccums!

Wigan Athletic

Currently 19th in the table, Paul Cook's Wigan started the season so promisingly and even flirted with the playoffs last Autumn.

However, since October things have gone from bad to worse at the DW Stadium and they've only managed to take nine points from a potential 54 in the Championship.

Last month they lost their joint-top goalscorer Will Grigg to Sunderland, however did acquire £4 million for the Northern Ireland international which will be a huge boost for them going into this summer's transfer window.

The Latics have signed Leon Clarke on loan from high fliers Sheffield United until the end of the season though, which could drag them out of danger.

The 33-year-old front man got off to a stormer in his debut for the club on Saturday, scoring one and assisting one as Wigan beat QPR 2-1.

Paul Cook's side have a huge game on Saturday when they travel to fellow strugglers Rotherham United - anything other than a win will seriously hinder their chances of survival.

To be relegated

skybet

WIGAN @ 16/1

Millwall

Millwall enjoyed a terrific season in the Championship last term, however this time around things haven't gone quite as smoothly for Neil Harris' side.

The South London outfit currently sit just five points outside the bottom three but do have a game in hand over each of the other five sides currently scrapping it out at the foot of the table.

With just one defeat in their last six league games, the Lions have got some decent momentum behind them, but face a tricky tie on Saturday when they travel to South Wales to take on Graham Potter's inconsistent Swansea side.

Millwall's next run of games are extremely tough. After their trip to the Liberty they go up against Sheffield Wednesday, Derby, Preston, Hull and Norwich before a huge game against Bolton at the beginning of March.

They need to obtain at least seven points from those six matches if they're to stand any chance of remaining in the second tier; if they don't, the club could be in real danger of facing the drop at the end of the campaign.

Neil Harris Millwall

To be relegated

skybet

MILLWALL @ 11/1

Rotherham United

Rotherham United have become somewhat of a yo-yo side in recent seasons, fluctuating between the Championship and League One twice in the previous five years.

Paul Warne's men sit in 21st place as things stand, trailing 20th place Millwall by four points so could easily close the gap between themselves and the Lions with a win over Wigan this weekend, providing Millwall lose away at Swansea.

With only one win to their name since the 10th of November, the Millers take little momentum into Saturday's six-pointer with the Latics.

The alarming rate in which Rotherham have conceded goals is the main reason they find themselves in such an unwanted position at this stage. With 48 goals conceded, only rock-bottom Ipswich have let in more this time out.

Rotherham have also only scored 28 goals, with their leading scorer - Will Vaulks - only managing five in the league so far.

To stay up

skybet

ROTHERHAM @ 6/4

Reading

Reading have been unbelievably poor this season. After a poor start which saw the Royals fail to win a single one of their opening 10 league matches, former manager Paul Clement was shown the exit door, with current boss Jose Manuel Gomes taking charge of the club in December.

Since Gomes took over at the Madejski, Reading have only won one league game - a 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest last month - and threw away the perfect opportunity to bridge the gap between themselves and Bolton last week when they conceded a last minute goal to draw 1-1 with the Trotters.

Reading have a pivotal run of games approaching in the next month. The Berkshire outfit travel to Sheffield Wednesday this weekend before facing three of the bottom six between now and the 9th of March, starting with a home tie against Rotherham on the 23rd February.

Back-to-back fixtures against Ipswich and Wigan follow for the Royals, with their season likely to be determined by those three results.

A point against playoff chasers Aston Villa on Saturday will help their momentum ahead of this weekend's tie with the Owls but with just one win in 14, things aren't looking great for the club who just two seasons ago found themselves in a playoff final.

John Swift Reading

To stay up

skybet

READING @ 5/6

Bolton Wanderers

Bolton only just stayed up last season, narrowly avoiding the drop by just two points. This time out, they're in real trouble. Phil Parkinson's side are in danger of being relegated to the third tier at the end of the season should they fail to turn things around.

The Trotters have lost eight of their last 12 league games and go up against three of the top eight in the next month when they face Birmingham, Norwich and Leeds before February draws to its conclusion.

It's evident to see why Bolton find themselves languishing in the bottom three; they've only scored 19 goals in 30 games - fewer than any other side in the whole division.

Josh Magennis is there leading scorer and he's only managed four goals in the Championship this time out, so things aren't looking too good for the Manchester-based outfit.

A win for Bolton over Preston this weekend could see them leapfrog Reading, providing the Royals lose to Sheffield Wednesday in their respective tie on Saturday. However, a defeat could see the gap between themselves and bottom side Ipswich cut to just two points, should the Tractor Boys register a hugely unlikely win over league leaders and fierce rivals Norwich on Sunday.

To stay up

skybet

BOLTON @ 9/2

Ipswich Town

Things aren't looking great for Ipswich at the moment, currently rooted to the bottom of the table on just 18 points, the Portman Road outfit find themselves eight points from safety with an extremely tough run of games approaching.

Paul Lambert's men go up against rivals Norwich this Sunday in a fixture they're massive underdogs for. The Canaries are flying high at the top of the Championship as things stand and head into the match full of confidence after beating second-placed Leeds 3-1 last weekend.

The Tractor Boys then host Frank Lampard's promotion chasing Derby next Wednesday, before going up against Stoke, Wigan and Reading in the following three weeks - all sides who currently find themselves in the bottom half of the division.

It's going to take something extremely special for the Championship's longest-serving side to remain in the second tier for a 17th consecutive season next term, with their odds of avoiding the drop as high as 9/1, and their odds to be demoted to League One as short as 1/14.

Ellis Harrison Ipswich Town

To stay up

skybet

IPSWICH @ 9/1


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