With Aston Villa blazing their way back into the automatic promotion picture on the back of a seven-game winning run, it looked for certain it would be either Villa or Derby joining Wolves in the Premier League next season.
February came though and complicated matters slightly, throwing up more questions for the remaining 12 games in the Championship season.
For starters, we’ve learnt that Wolves are not the invincible force that were expected to walk away with the Championship title. They haven’t won any of their last three games and their lead has been cut right down to just six points.
The Dog Heads also have to visit both Cardiff City and Aston Villa, the two teams nearest to them, so the title isn’t a done deal just yet for them.
Dan Rodgers on the MOMS Podcast earlier in the season suggested that Cardiff would fade in the Championship season, a view that perhaps a lot of fans would have shared.
It certainly looked like it was happening during the Christmas period when the Bluebirds lost four games on the bounce, but they have recently rallied and come on strong.
For the month of February 2018, Cardiff topped the form table on 16 points from six games. They have played one more game than every other team in the league, bar Bolton, but take away three points and they’d still be top on goal difference from the only other team on 13 points from five games, Millwall.
Villa – Still Good
Despite having a bit of a recent blip in February, Aston Villa were still in 4th place for the month. After a seven-game winning run, the appearance of a loss and a draw, may have felt a bit alien for supporters, but it’s far from panic stations just yet.
Another win at home to QPR in the first game of March, to follow on from the win at the weekend, and it will continue Villa’s impressive overall consistency in the 2018, so far.
Another good month for Fulham (3rd in February form) capped off with home wins against both Aston Villa and Wolves, make them very much a contender for automatic promotion spot in the run-in.
They have a series of games against other promotion hopefuls in their next few games, so wins in most of them and they will be dangerous from a Villa point-of-view.
Fulham are the form team of 2018 with 23 points from nine games. Villa though are only a point behind, followed by Cardiff City who have 20 points from nine games. Wolves are in sixth place (15 points) in the Championship based just on games played in this year.
Villa will certainly be happy to have gained seven points in nine games on their West Midland’s neighbours and with 12 games left. It’s not totally out of the question for Villa to haul back the 10 they still currently trail Wolves by – especially with Wolves still due to visit Villa Park.
To be honest though, lets not entertain that possibility, unless Villa win that game.
Other teams that were in the promotion hunt have been seriously derailed by February. Bristol City were looking very good before the turn of the year, but were winless during February, managing just three points. Meanwhile, Derby managed just one win and six points during the month.
Derby, seven points off automatic promotion and winless in their last four outings, will have to put a winning run together in March to have any chance of getting back in the race.
Derby’s upcoming home clash with Fulham is potentially a must-win, even at this stage. As is their home match against Cardiff towards the end of March. Win both of them, alongside a decent haul of points in other March fixtures and they’ll have a chance going into the free-for-all month of April.
For Villa, the late show against Sheffield Wednesday to close out the month, may prove to be one of their most important results of their season.
It certainly swings the momentum back again and when you look at the fixtures that March brings, there really is a chance for Villa to set themselves up nicely for the challenges of the season’s final weeks.