While so much of the Championship is still to be decided in the season’s final round of games next week, finally we have something of an idea what the top of England’s second-division league will look like once it’s all said and done.
[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup ]
As of Sunday night, we’ve officially got four teams locked into promotion playoff places, two others on the verge of securing the final two playoff place, and one team officially booked for a place in the 2015-16 Premier League.
Watford officially go up
We’ve done it! #watfordfc are promoted to the Premier League!
— Official #watfordfc (@watfordfcsays) April 25, 2015
It’s a happy, happy day in the town of Watford, because eight years after Watford were last relegated from the Premier League, they’re going back up. Given results elsewhere (we’ll get to that in a minute), all Watford had to do to secure a top-two place was beat Bright, and they did just that, 2-0 at the Amex Stadium. It’s a safe bet that the celebrations in Watford will look like this all night long.
A victory in their final game of the season, at home against Sheffield Wednesday, and Watford will not only go up, but they’ll do so as champions of the Championship.
Middlesbrough (probably) blow their chance at automatic promotion
Middlesbrough now look destined for the playoffs, as Aitor Karanka’s men lost 4-3 to 17th-placed Fulham on Saturday, and what a wild game it was. With his side down 2-0, Karanka opted for the rarely-seen triple-sub just after the hour mark, only to see Boro pull a goal back two minutes later and have a player sent off three minutes after that.
The red card also resulted in a penalty for the Cottagers, which restored Fulham’s two-goal lead at 3-1. Boro pulled to within a goal once again in the 73rd minute and equalized in the 88th minute. Then, in the 94th minute, Ross McCormack won it for Fulham signaling a calamitous disaster for Boro.
A draw would have only give Boro a leg up should Bournemouth lose one of their two remaining games, but now even in that event, one victory all but secures second place for Bournemouth, given their 16-goal advantage in the goal differential column.
Bournemouth go up with a win on Monday
At this point, it’s pretty simple for Bournemouth: if they take four points from their final two games (Bournemouth play their 45th game of the season on Monday, at home against 18th-placed Bolton), and they’ll join Watford in the Premier League next season. A win on Monday, and the Cherries are 99.9 percent locked into a top-two spot, given the massive goal differential advantage.
Eddie Howe’s men could also go up with three points from their two gams and a point or more dropped by both Boro and Norwich City, in third and fourth.
Ipswich, Derby flip-flop places, all but into playoffs
Ipswich officially need just a single point in their final game, away to Blackburn Rovers, to secure a playoff place, while a point at home against Reading will almost certainly (like, 99.9 percent certain) do the job for Derby as well, given their 16- and 20-point goal different advantages on 7th- and 8th-placed Brentford and Wolverhampton Wanderers.