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Run-in Primer: The Final Countdown

Six matches to end the 2017/18 season for Aston Villa

Aston Villa v Reading - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

March started so well... then the bottom fell out and Villa went tumbling. It appeared the Wolves win led to over-confidence and complacency for the players and the manager. And that dip in form means (barring a miracle) it is the playoffs for Aston Villa with the end game being a May 26th match at Wembley.

April started with a win but now all eyes turn to the final six matches of the campaign.

First some news and notes.

Albert Adomah and John Terry were named as part of the Team of the Season.

US-based fans (and all those that end up watching coverage based in the US) — ESPN is launching a pay service called ESPN+ ($4.99 a month). Championship coverage is not mentioned in the company’s press release but it is something worth watching to see if/how it impacts streaming. Launch date is April 12.

March: High flying to hard fall

Mar 6th @ Sunderland 0-3 Win Recap

Mar 10th Wolves 4-1 Win Recap

Mar 13th QPR 1-3 Loss Recap

Mar 17th @ Bolton Wanderers 1-0 Loss Recap Ratings

Mar 31st @ Hull City 0-0 Draw Recap

(April 3rd Reading 3-0 Win Recap)

Championship Table

# Club Played Points Wins Draws Losses
# Club Played Points Wins Draws Losses
1 Wolves 40 86 26 8 6
2 Cardiff City 39 80 24 8 7
3 Fulham 40 75 21 12 7
4 Aston Villa 40 73 21 10 9
5 Derby County 39 65 17 14 8
6 Middlesbrough 40 63 18 9 13
7 Bristol City 40 62 16 14 10
8 Millwall 40 62 16 14 10
9 Sheff Utd 40 62 18 8 14
10 Preston 40 60 15 15 10

The Final Countdown

April 7th @Norwich City

April 10th Cardiff City

April 13th Leeds United

April 21st @ Ipswich Town

April 28th Derby County

May 6th @Millwall

It is not an easy finish to the season — and quite congested with six matches in a month’s time. The Cardiff match will be last call for any supporter still holding out some hope of making it up to an automatic promotion place. Derby could be a playoff preview. And Millwall may have all to play for on the final day hoping to get into the promotion playoffs — and the matchup could be repeated a week later.

I’ll be watching Steve Bruce’s decisions closely. For the first time this season the team had a massive rotation on a Tuesday match following a Saturday match and it worked well (granted poor performance on Saturday may have been the bigger reason than actually rotating the squad and Reading going down to 10-men made the job easier). Who will be first choice up front — Hogan, Grabban, or a presumably fully fit Kodjia. Whelan, Jedinak, or Bjarnason anchoring the midfield? And who is the midfield partner?

All tough questions — with plenty of debate to be had. But Bruce had better come up with the right answers come May — and he has six matches to figure it out.

Up the Villa.