If the sides currently threatened by Premier League relegation need further motivation to win today, they should take a look at yesterday’s Championship results.
Leicester City – hailed back in January as the team most likely to join Cardiff in next season’s top flight – continued their free-fall, losing 1-0 at home to 14th-placed Millwall.
The result doesn’t tell the whole story, as the Foxes played all but three minutes of the game with 10 men and the Lions scored with just three to go. But a team who looked certain to gain automatic promotion just two months ago are now clinging on for a play-off place.
Watford, currently third and with the recent form to climb one place further, conceded a last-minute equaliser to 13th-placed Burnley. And whatever pride they feel at putting on a show in a game that finished 3-3, those two lost points could make all the difference come May.
But it was the match between Crystal Palace and Birmingham City at Selhurst Park that caused the biggest shock, as the visitors won 4-0 to bolster their own slim play-off hopes and dent those of Palace, for whom a win would have taken them second.
The point is, no one seems to want to run away with it; although want is the wrong word. No one can run away with it.
In a division that has for many years been thought of as the hardest to navigate, it is now more difficult than ever.
Despite recent wobbles, Cardiff City seem almost certain to finally secure a Premier League place. But of the sides below them, the next 10 will still hold out some hope of joining them.
So as Wigan, Reading, Southampton, Aston Villa, QPR and Sunderland ready themselves for the remainder of this campaign, they would do well to take a quick look at the Championship table.
Should they find themselves a part of it next season, it will be just as challenging as ever.
Who will ultimately win promotion from the Championship this season? And is it the most competitive it has ever been?
image: © OliverN5