After 8 months of fierce rivalries, controversial decisions and last-minute winners, the EFL season will come to an end in the first weekend of May. While Lincoln have managed to secure promotion from League Two with a few weeks to spare, the rest of the country’s football fans will be left on the edge of their seats for the remaining matches. They will be hoping that their team can escape the drop, make the play-offs or even squeeze into the automatic promotion spots.
So, what’s still left to play for in the remaining EFL matches?
As you can see here, Norwich are the bookies’ favourites to return to the Premiership this season. What’s less certain, however, is who will be joining them. After a year of mesmerising football – and a hint of spying controversy – Marco Bielsa’s Leeds side are strong contenders for second place.
To achieve that, they’ll have to beat off stiff competition from Sheffield United. The Blades have been Leeds’ main concern of late, switching places with them between second and third for the past few weeks. The two sides have remarkably similar run-ins, culminating with away ties at Ipswich and Stoke for Leeds and Sheffield United, respectively.
At the other end of the table, Rotherham, Wigan, Millwall and Reading will look to avoid joining Bolton and Ipswich in the drop down to League One. One spot remains in the relegation zone, with Wigan and Millwall meeting on the final day. If Rotherham manage to scrape together a few good results, it could make for a tasty encounter at the DW in May.
Elsewhere, it looks like West Brom and Aston Villa will make up the play-offs, along with either Leeds or Sheffield United. The final spot will be fought over by Bristol City, Middlesbrough or Derby County, meaning Derby’s penultimate fixture, away to Bristol City, could be a huge one to watch.
There’s excitement at both ends of the table in League One. While Peterborough’s game in hand could kill off Coventry and Burton’s play-off hopes, Sunderland, Portsmouth and Barnsley look set for a fierce fight to join Luton in the automatic promotion spots. Sunderland host Portsmouth in their penultimate match, which could be a winner-takes-all scenario.
Just a few points below the play-offs, however, you’ll find the infamous League One relegation scrap. Just a handful of points have separated mid-table and the drop-zone since March, with only one of four relegation spots looking to be taken by Bradford.
Wycombe, Plymouth, Scunthorpe, Rochdale, Wimbledon, Southend and Walsall will battle to avoid the remaining three relegation spots.
Exeter have built up a comfortable cushion at the bottom of the League Two play-offs, meaning it’s down to the top and bottom ends of the table for some end-of-season drama. With Lincoln already promoted, the remaining two automatic promotion spots will be filled by two of Bury, Mansfield, MK Dons and Tranmere.
After sitting comfortably near the top for most of the season under Ryan Lowe, Bury suffered three straight defeats amid financial troubles in April, with uncertainty over the team’s March wages. That provided hope for former manager David Flitcroft and his Mansfield side, along with MK Dons and Tranmere who are following closely behind. With all that in mind, MK Dons vs Mansfield is certainly the pick of the fixtures on the final day.
At the other end of the table, Sol Campbell’s Macclesfield side could complete an impressive turnaround. The Silkmen were rock bottom when they appointed the ex-England defender and still bottom at Christmas, but have since caught up with Yeovil and Notts County, leaving three teams trying to escape the two relegation spots.
Got any nails left to bite? There’s just the small matter of the EFL play-offs in the weeks that follow…