EFL: Five things to look out for | Total Football News
It's a big weekend for Leeds, Ipswich and Lincoln (left to right) We cast our eye over five things to look out for in the Sky Bet Championship, League One and League Two on Saturday. The promotion pendulum swings again It seems as though neither ...

EFL: Five things to look out for

It's a big weekend for Leeds, Ipswich and Lincoln (left to right)

It's a big weekend for Leeds, Ipswich and Lincoln (left to right)

We cast our eye over five things to look out for in the Sky Bet Championship, League One and League Two on Saturday.

The promotion pendulum swings again

It seems as though neither Sheffield United nor Leeds want the second automatic-promotion spot behind Norwich.

A couple of weeks ago it was the Blades that took pole position after beating Leeds, but then lost at home to Bristol City to hand their rivals the ascendancy. Then came Leeds' defeat at Birmingham last Saturday, as Sheffield United won at Preston to reclaim it.

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Then, in midweek, Leeds managed to battle past Preston themselves before Sheffield United slipped up at Birmingham the following night.

Saturday sees the Blades host Millwall at 3pm, and a win or draw will send them back above Leeds and into second, while Marcelo Bielsa's men meet Sheffield Wednesday in the evening kick-off - live on Sky Sports Football.

It is too early for either side to strike a decisive blow, but a win for Leeds and a slip for Sheffield United would open up a huge gap, psychologically at least.

The current Championship top 10

The current Championship top 10

Leeds vs Sheff Wed

April 13, 2019, 5:15pm

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One foot in the play-offs for Villa or Bristol City?

It has been a good week for Aston Villa. Two very impressive comeback away wins, first a last-ditch one at Sheffield Wednesday, the second with 10 men at Rotherham, have fired them up to seven in a row, making a top-six finish look more and more certain.

This Saturday they face the difficult proposition of Bristol City, who sit a point and a place below them in sixth - although the Robins have a game in hand.

Jack Grealish scores for Aston Villa against Rotherham

Jack Grealish scores for Aston Villa against Rotherham

Smith, Ajayi win March awards

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith and Rotherham midfielder Semi Ajayi pick up the March awards for the Sky Bet Championship.

Both will fancy their chances of making the play-offs this season, particularly with a bit of daylight between themselves and the chasing pack, but that gap will close for one or both if any of the sides below win this weekend.

It makes it a pivotal clash at Villa Park in the race for the top six, particularly when you consider the fact that whoever finishes fifth will avoid facing Sheffield United or Leeds in the semi-finals.

The race is far from run, but it would be a fairly safe bet that whoever prevails on Saturday can start at at least half-planning for the play-offs.

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Ipswich's fate can be sealed

Only something approaching a biblical miracle will prevent Ipswich from being relegated to the third tier for the first time since 1957 and it could well happen this weekend.

It has been a largely miserable campaign for the Tractor Boys, with just four wins to celebrate throughout the entire campaign, and anything but a victory at home to Birmingham on Saturday will seal their fate.

Ipswich can be relegated on Saturday

Ipswich can be relegated on Saturday

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Such an early relegation could be used to work in their favour, giving them a month jump on their rivals to plan for life in League One. In fact, some of their much-maligned transfer business in the summer may ironically serve to help them next season, with plenty of players having arrived with experience in the lower leagues.

Boss Paul Lambert has also spoken positively of some of the young talent he has in the squad, and it must be hoped that the likes of Myles Kenlock, Flynn Downes and Andre Dozzell won't be too scarred by such a difficult season.

If there was ever a moment that summed up their season perfectly it came on Wednesday night at Brentford, as Collin Quaner hit the post when he should have scored, before the Bees raced up the other end and scored the opener. They must be more clinical in League One if they hope to seal an immediate return.

A huge battle near the bottom of League One

The sheer volume of teams in the League One relegation battle means there will be at least one or two six-pointers every week between now and the end of the season.

There is one on Saturday, however, that feels as though it has more importance, as the two sides with the worst records in 2019 - Accrington and Walsall - meet at the Wham Stadium.

Accrington have struggled in 2019

Accrington have struggled in 2019

At one stage this season both sides had loftier aspirations. Walsall won six of their first 12 games and were fifth at one point in October, but have won just five since and five defeats in a row have left them in the relegation zone - and without a permanent manager after sacking Dean Keates last Saturday.

While Walsall have picked up 10 points in 2019, fewer than any other club, Accrington have managed just 11. And while they are far less likely to part company with boss John Coleman - who has led them to this level of English football for the first time in their history - a return to League Two would still be disappointing for a side that were ninth in the table on Boxing Day.

Walsall could end Saturday out of the relegation zone and Accrington could find themselves in it.

Lincoln set for promotion party?

One way or another Lincoln are going to go up this season. It would take a collapse of epic proportions for them not to seal a first return to the third tier since 1999.

But what an opportunity they have to do it on Saturday - and potentially claim the Sky Bet League Two title as well - in front of their home fans. Victory over Cheltenham on Saturday and it will be job done, regardless of what happens elsewhere.

Lincoln could achieve promotion to League One on Saturday

Lincoln could achieve promotion to League One on Saturday

"We've had a good week and we're getting ready for what is potentially a life-changing game," said Imps boss Danny Cowley. "The boys have worked relentlessly hard all season for this objective and we're potentially one game away.

"It doesn't matter how we dress it up, nobody is under any illusions how big an opportunity this is for everybody associated with the club. For us, it's always about giving back and our supporters have been so unbelievable for us.

"They have played such a massive role in the journey and we would love to do it in front of them on Saturday. With that comes responsibility and, naturally, some pressure."

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