There has been another twist in the race for automatic promotion in the EFL Championship, as Sheffield United’s draw with Birmingham allowed Leeds to climb into second place.

Leeds had defeated Preston 2-0 away from home on Tuesday night, which lifted their points total to 79.

First-placed Norwich look certain for automatic promotion, holding a seven-point advantage over third-placed Sheffield United. This means that it is likely that either Leeds or the Blades will finish in second position. The fight for second place has been a struggle, with both clubs occupying the lucrative position in recent times. Just last week, Sheffield United overtook Leeds on the table, however this has changed again.

With five matches remaining, it will be an intriguing race for the second automatic promotion spot. It may be decided on the final matchday at the beginning of May, where Leeds will travel to bottom-placed Ipswich Town, while Sheffield United will travel to Stoke City.

However, the week before sees Sheffield United host Ipswich, while Leeds faces in-form Aston Villa, who currently are undefeated in their last eight games. It is just too hard to call who finishes in second position.

The club that fails to finish second has a chance to get promoted through the play-offs. Regardless if they finished higher on the table, anything can happen in these matches and an off-day can be costly. This is the reason why finishing second is more beneficial for these clubs.

Leeds were last in the Premier League in 2004 and promotion would bring lots of joy to the club. 20 years ago, they were finishing towards the top of the Premier League table, however financial troubles saw them relegated to the Championship, while they also had a stint in League One. It was a massive fall from grace, and promotion would be an emotional time for supporters.

Sheffield United meanwhile were most recently in the Premier League in 2007, and since then have spent their time in the Championship and League One. They returned to the Championship in the 2017/18 season, following five years in League One, which highlights how impressive their turnaround has been.

The business end of the Championship has now arrived, and all eyes will be on who manages to secure the second automatic promotion spot. Regardless of what happens, both clubs have had a magnificent season.

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Tim Sperliotis
tsperliotis@gmail.com