Monday, 3 March 2008

Avoiding The Baggies

Saturday's result against Sheff Yoo was a welcome surprise after recent games, but I won't be getting carried away with hopes of automatic promotion. That proposition is long-gone in my opinion, and it could only take one slip-up and results go against us for the likes of Wolves and Hull to overtake us.

That said, a look down the BBC predictor gives me confidence of us finishing well in the top six, and with any luck that position will be wrapped up with a couple of games to go.

My main worry about the playoffs is simple – avoiding West Brom. The Baggies have gone through an indifferent patch recently, and despite playing the best football in the division they are starting to pay the price for not winning matches.

Stoke and Watford may not be the prettiest sides in this division by any means, but they've got a knack of picking up the results when it counts. Although they have 2 games in hand on Stoke, West Brom are still 4 points away from the automatic spots, and on recent form pegging back that gap shouldn't be taken for granted.

Crazy or not, my money is on Bristol City winning this division. Not what you'll want to be thinking with a visit to The Valley approaching in a couple of days, but they've been up there all season and haven't fallen away as many of us expected. Stoke got up here with a run, but City are there on merit of consistency, and I expect them to stay there.

Second is one from Stoke, West Brom and Watford. For West Brom to make it, they simply have to start winning the games they should be. Too many points have been dropped by them this season, and they run a real risk of missing out.

I've no fear at all of playing any of Watford, Stoke or Ipswich in the playoffs. On our day we're good enough to beat any of those teams. What I don't think we're capable of is pulling off a win against Tony Mowbray's side. If we get them over 2 legs, I fear the worst – I can't see us scoring enough at home to take a lead to The Hawthorns.

A one-off at Wembley would be our best bet, but avoiding them would be even better.

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