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WONDERS OF THE PYRAMID: Who gets promoted to the Premier League, which teams make the play-offs and who’s going down? The big questions answered ahead of a Championship Easter feast

It’s Easter, the best weekend of the year for Football League matches. With two games in four days so close to the end of the season, teams have the chance to make or break a promotion or survival bid.

Let’s answer the big questions…

Who will win the four-team promotion battle?

Leicester got off to a flying start, with thirteen wins in their first fourteen games in the second tier, after their fairytale era ended due to relegation. But the championship is a marathon, not a sprint – and the Foxes have failed.

Pep Guardiola’s former right-hand man Enzo Maresca looks a smart player despite a budget that dwarfs most teams below, but the next two games will determine how good the Italian boss is, with just one win in the previous five matches.

Leicester got off to a flying start, with 13 wins in their first 14 games in the second tier

Pep Guardiola's former right-hand man Enzo Maresca has looked like a shrewd operator in his debut season

Pep Guardiola’s former right-hand man Enzo Maresca has looked like a shrewd operator in his debut season

Let’s not just focus on that tricky spell, but instead on the 32 games that preceded it, in which Maresca’s men asserted themselves as one of the best teams this division has ever seen with a patient, possession-based game in which many top teams were left behind. their faces.

Jamie Vardy is still the main source of goals with 13, but Leicester look different to the team that went down, with Abdul Fatawu and Stephy Mavididi dangerously wide. Wilfried Ndidi, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and Harry Winks are a midfield trio that is far too good for this level.

But Leeds, as this column points out before a ball was kicked, have everything at their disposal to romp to the title and go into this weekend as leaders – even though they have played a game more than Leicester. Daniel Farke was there and did it twice with Norwich.

A recruitment drive to attract young, unadulterated gems was a reason for relegation last year, but many are now flourishing, such as Georginio Rutter and Willy Gnonto. Leeds have the best youngster in the division in 18-year-old Archie Gray.

Farke’s youngsters have had an inconsistent start in the Championship but have all but been blown away since Christmas, with 37 points compared to 39 in 2024. Welsh internationals Ethan Ampadu and Joe Rodon have also been exceptional.

But the Easter weekend has haunted Leeds before. In 2019 they were in a similar position of authority in the automatic race, but had consecutive defeats to Wigan and Brentford before falling apart in the play-offs against Frank Lampard’s Derby.

Ipswich were the story of the season, having amassed 98 points and scored 101 goals in League One last season. The early rise of Kieran McKenna’s side is no surprise to anyone who has watched them in the third tier, but their staying power has been remarkable.

Losing to Cardiff after goals in the 95th and 100th minutes earlier this month could have derailed their lead, as could a run over Christmas where they won just once from December 12 to February 14, but the Tractor Boys won’t go away.

Jamie Vardy is still the main source of goals with thirteen, but Leicester look different to the team that went down

Jamie Vardy is still the main source of goals with thirteen, but Leicester look different to the team that went down

Leeds have everything at their disposal to romp to the championship title this season

Leeds have everything at their disposal to romp to the championship title this season

Ipswich were the story of the season, having amassed 98 points and scored 101 goals in League One last season

Ipswich were the story of the season, having amassed 98 points and scored 101 goals in League One last season

They are one point away from those above them. An Ipswich victory over Southampton on Monday would certainly exclude Russell Martin’s Saints from the automatic race. They went undefeated in a whopping 25 games, but have since failed.

Points on the board are better than games in hand, but the fact they are nine behind leaders Leeds is offset by the fact they have played two fewer games. Hopes aren’t completely gone yet on the south coast, but Martin may yet have to come up with a formidable run.

Adam Armstrong makes a case for player of the season, with 18 goals bettered only by Blackburn’s Sammie Szmodics, plus 11 assists. If Saints don’t make the top two, they would be a good bet in the play-offs.

The best of the rest?

West Brom manager Carlos Corberan seems destined for the Premier League, although the Spaniard hopes to do so with the Baggies. They have lost just one of their last ten and can put one hand on a play-off spot this weekend.

Easier said than done, mind you, but West Brom are the best of the rest with a strong defensive base. Mikey Johnston, signed in January, has injected energy and flair into their attack and it seems baffling that Celtic have let him leave on loan.

Just below them are Norwich, who bounced back from a dreadful run from September to December with David Wagner’s job under serious scrutiny, especially after a 6-2 win at Plymouth. Thanks to the new football director Ben Knapper for sticking with him. They have an exciting team.

West Brom manager Carlos Corberan appears destined for the Premier League, although the Spaniard hopes to do so with the Baggies

West Brom manager Carlos Corberan appears destined for the Premier League, although the Spaniard hopes to do so with the Baggies

West Brom have lost just one of their last ten and can put one hand on a play-off spot this weekend

West Brom have lost just one of their last ten and can put one hand on a play-off spot this weekend

Hull go into this weekend with four straight draws, but Liam Rosenior’s youthful side have realistic expectations in the top six.

Liverpool loanees Tyler Morton and Fabio Carvalho have impressed, although the £5million signing of Jaden Philogene has been a game-changer.

Hull go into this weekend on the back of four straight draws, but Liam Rosenior's youthful side have realistic hopes of making the top six

Hull go into this weekend on the back of four straight draws, but Liam Rosenior’s youthful side have realistic hopes of making the top six

Last season’s play-off runners-up Coventry will hope their magical run to the FA Cup semi-finals does not distract from another top six push, with Mark Robins’ men well in the hunt again despite big summer exits. The Sky Blues have lost just three times since December 2.

Behind them, Michael Carrick and Middlesbrough have had an inconsistent season but could end on a flourish, while Ryan Lowe’s Preston could gain ground with two winnable games, and Turkish boss Erol Bulut is doing well in Cardiff.

Who’s going down?

Choose. Just 10 points separate Sunderland in 12th from Sheffield Wednesday in 23rd. Rotherham were terrible, winning just three times all season and scoring 77 goals. They could break their own record for the number of goals conceded in a single campaign.

The Millers’ relegation could be confirmed this weekend if those above them achieve back-to-back wins. On Wednesday the first thirteen games went scoreless and Xisco fired Munoz, but new boss Danny Rohl, only 34, has given them a fighting chance.

Before defeats to promotion-chasing Leeds and Ipswich, the Owls won five of their previous six and a similar run will be needed when they face Luke Williams’ Swansea, who are in good form but tied with Watford and Bristol City not quite yet. still safe.

Sheffield Wednesday have a chance of survival under new boss Danny Rohl

Sheffield Wednesday have a chance of survival under new boss Danny Rohl

Rotherham's relegation could be confirmed this weekend if those above them secure back-to-back wins

Rotherham’s relegation could be confirmed this weekend if those above them secure back-to-back wins

The decision to sack John Eustace and sign Wayne Rooney is haunting Birmingham, who recently appointed Gary Rowett on an interim basis after Tony Mowbray was forced to resign due to illness. They play fellow strugglers QPR in a big game today.

Marti Cifuentes, like Rohl, gave the R’s a lift and they have lost just two of their last eleven, leaving Huddersfield in the bottom three. Former Hoffenheim boss Andre Breitenreiter is their third boss of the season.

Steven Schumacher swapped Plymouth for Stoke and it looks like a bad move for both parties with Argyle fans not sold on new boss Ian Foster. Both are in trouble, although Plymouth’s Morgan Whittaker was one of the players of the season.

Eustace still has nine games to win as Blackburn boss. Rovers are in poor form, although they have managed to turn losses into draws with six points in their last seven. Millwall have picked up where they left off since re-hiring Neil Harris, but they are still looking over their shoulders.