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Championship 2021/22 Promotion Race – Who will reach the Premier League?

The Championship has a reputation as one of the most exciting divisions in the world, hence the popularity of Championship live streams, TV viewing figures and gates that make it one of the biggest leagues in Europe. It’s unpredictable, and anyone can beat anyone.

This season has been no different. Some sides are competing for the automatics, while many would still consider themselves in contention for a play-off spot. Just one good run of form could propel a team from relegation candidates to top-six challengers.

Here is how things are going so far.

1) Fulham

Games played: 26
Points: 54
Top scorer: Aleksandar Mitrovic (27)

Fulham have been promoted twice in the last four-and-a-half seasons, going up via the play-offs in 2018 and 2020. This time around, they will be hoping to return to the Premier League automatically.

The Whites lead the way thus far, sitting five points clear at the top. They suffered a bit of a wobble recently, failing to win in five, but bounced back with consecutive victories against Reading, Bristol City and Birmingham City by an aggregate score of 19-4.

It’s no secret who their main man has been this term. Aleksandar Mitrovic has netted a phenomenal 27 goals. Easily the Championship’s top scorer this season, he is just five away from breaking the record for most goals in a single Championship season, and he still has 20 games remaining.

But they’re far from a one-man team. Even if you took away Mitrovic’s goals, they would be the second-top scorers in the league. In addition, they have had 14 different scorers this season, which is more than anyone else in the second tier.

2) Bournemouth

Games played: 26
Points: 49
Top scorer: Dominic Solanke (18)

Bournemouth know as well as anyone just how difficult the play-offs can be, having been eliminated by Brentford in last year’s semi-finals. They will be looking to avoid a repeat of last season’s heartbreak by finishing inside the top two.

The Cherries have also struggled lately, picking up nine points from their last nine games. However, they have a great chance to turn this around, as their next three Championship games come against sides in the bottom seven.

3) Blackburn Rovers

Games played: 26
Points: 49
Top scorer: Ben Brereton Diaz (20)

When 28-goal forward Adam Armstrong left for Southampton without a replacement, many Blackburn Rovers fans feared the worst.

But Tony Mowbray’s men have been the surprise package of the Championship this season, elevating themselves from 15th to third.

This is largely down to the form of Chile international Ben Brereton Diaz. The 22-year-old is second in the Golden Boot race, bagging 20 in 26 appearances.

4) Queens Park Rangers

Games played: 25
Points: 44
Top scorer: Chris Willock, Ilias Chair, Lyndon Dykes (6 each)

Queens Park Rangers were tipped by many people as dark horses, and they have not disappointed. The west Londoners are sitting in fourth place and could still climb into the automatic promotion spots.

The Rs have picked up 14 points in the final 15 minutes of games this season, including four crucial injury-time goals.

This shows their determination and fight, although it remains to be seen whether this is sustainable over the second half of the season.

5) West Bromwich Albion

Games played: 26
Points: 42
Top scorer: Karlan Grant (9)

Manager Valerien Ismael’s move from Barnsley to West Bromwich Albion hasn’t been as productive as the Baggies would have liked. The fans are starting to become dissatisfied with the Frenchman. Nonetheless, his side are still in a play-off spot.

West Brom are one of only two sides in England’s top four tiers to have not lost at home, along with Liverpool. Furthermore, they hold the best defensive record in the league, conceding just 20.

They have been busy in the January transfer window, signing American forward Daryl Dike from Orlando City. Last campaign, he hit nine goals in 21 appearances on loan at Barnsley.

6) Middlesbrough

Games played: 26
Points: 42
Top scorer: Andraz Sporar, Matt Crooks (6 each)

Middlesbrough were down in 14th when manager Chris Wilder took over from Neil Warnock at the Riverside in November. Since the arrival of the former Sheffield United boss, only Blackburn have picked up more points.

The form book is on their side, winning six of the last seven matches. However, their credentials will be seriously tested in their next three outings when they face Blackburn, Coventry City and QPR.

7) Huddersfield Town

Games played: 27
Points: 41
Top scorer: Danny Ward (7)

Huddersfield Town have gone unbeaten in their last eight in all competitions, in a run which includes a victory against Premier League Burnley in the FA Cup. And they face two of the bottom four in the next two weeks, so they will fancy themselves to extend this run.

As things stand, the Terriers are just one point off the play-off places – although they have played more games than anyone else in the league. If they maintain their current form, they will be able to keep up with the top six. But if they don’t, they could easily fall into mid-table obscurity.

8) Stoke City

Games played: 25
Points: 38
Top scorer: Jacob Brown (6)

Stoke City are still well in the conversation for the top six, sitting four points outside the top six with a game in hand. However, a run of four defeats from their last seven has put a dampener on things.

The Potters have been active in the transfer window, bringing in veteran defender Phil Jagielka, as well as former Chelsea man Lewis Baker and Manchester City youngster Taylor Harwood-Bellis. It should be interesting to see whether they can make an impact.

9) Coventry City

Games played: 24
Points: 37
Top scorer: Matt Godden (10)

After a run of six without a win, Coventry City looked to be falling away from the chasing pack. Last weekend, they began their recovery with an emphatic 4-1 victory away at Peterborough United.

The next three games could be make or break for Mark Robins’ men, as they face QPR, Stoke, and Middlesbrough. These matches are a huge opportunity to gain ground on the sides ahead of them, but defeats could leave them out of the running.

10) Nottingham Forest

Games played: 26
Points: 37
Top scorer: Lewis Grabban (11)

The last few years have been hectic at Nottingham Forest. The Midlands club have made 84 signings in the last four-and-a-half years, most recently bringing in Keinan Davis, Steve Cook, and Richie Laryea in January.

They suffered a disastrous start to the season, picking up just one point from their first seven outings. But since the appointment of Steve Cooper in September, they have accumulated 33 points – only Fulham and Blackburn have more in that time frame.

They also managed to knock out a strong Arsenal side in the FA Cup, which will give them plenty of confidence going forward.

11) Sheffield United

Games played: 24
Points: 33
Top scorer: Billy Sharp (7)

Of the three sides to come down from the Premier League, Sheffield United have been the least impressive. Nonetheless, they are still in with a shout for promotion.

The appointment of manager Paul Heckingbottom in November has brought about an upturn in their fortunes, winning three and losing just one of the next five games. This includes an impressive 1-0 win away at league leaders Fulham.

12) Millwall

Games played: 25
Points: 33
Top scorer: Tom Bradshaw (7)

This season, Millwall have been strong at one end but weak at the other. They have scored just 27 goals, which is the fewest outside of the bottom seven, but only six teams boast a better defensive record.

If they wish to climb up the table, they will have to turn around their recent run of poor form. They have suffered five defeats from their last seven in all competitions, including losses against relegation strugglers Hull City and Peterborough.

13) Preston North End

Games played: 25
Points: 33
Top scorer: Emil Riis Jakobsen (9)

Manager Ryan Lowe took over near the start of December following Frankie McAvoy’s sacking. Since then, he is yet to lose a league game, picking up eight points from his four matches in charge. If they can keep up this form, they could make themselves dark horses for the play-offs.

Preston North End have a favourable run of fixtures coming up, facing just one of the Championship’s top six in their next ten games. This is the perfect opportunity to build momentum and propel themselves up the table.

14) Blackpool

Games played: 26
Points: 33
Top scorer: Jerry Yates (7)

With just two wins in their last 12 outings in all competitions, Blackpool’s unlikely hopes at a play-off push are getting slimmer. They are now nine points from the top six and face three of the top four in their next seven games.

The Tangerines will be hoping that new signing Jake Beesley can make an impact. The forward arrives from League Two side Rochdale, having scored nine goals this term.

15) Luton Town

Games played: 23
Points: 32
Top scorer: Elijah Adebayo (10)

The final team on our list of promotion candidates is Luton Town. They sit ten points off the play-offs, although they have three games in hand.

It would take an almighty effort from the Hatters in the second half of the season to sneak inside the top six, but they’re not entirely out of the picture just yet. In their next seven league fixtures, they face just one of the top ten and five of the teams below them.

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