October 17, 2021

EFL Podcast: Race for the PL, Easter frenzy & weekend review

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Jonathan Oakes is joined by Andy Hinchcliffe and Caroline Barker to discuss all the latest from the Championship, League One and League Two.

With the Championship taking a breather during the international break, the panel assess all the runners and riders in the promotion and relegation battles, and look ahead to a big weekend of action over Easter.

Norwich defender Ben Gibson is the latest guest on Ten To Tackle, as he answers our quickfire questions, before an in-depth look at all the major talking points from the weekend’s games in League One and League Two.

All leagues and angles are covered in this week’s show, but here were some of the main talking points…

The race for second place

There have been occasions this season when Swansea and Brentford have looked in control of the race for second place behind Norwich, but right now it is Xisco Munoz’s Watford that are in command of that spot and look on course for an immediate return to the Premier League.

Hinchcliffe: “The change to 4-3-3 was the most important thing. Whether it was down to Munoz being forced into it because of results or not, it was still very impressive to get the best out of his players right away in their new formation.

“They are great forward and they are great defensively. They are strong in every department.”

Who will be relegated from the Championship?

Image: Rotherham striker Michael Smith

Wycombe and Sheffield Wednesday look in real jeopardy of dropping into League One, and they are joined in the relegation zone by Rotherham. The Millers are three points off safety, but a season blighted by Covid and weather postponements has seen them left with up to four games in hand on most of their relegation rivals – and in a couple of weeks they are going to have to play four games in a week to try and catch up.

Hinchcliffe: “Any squad will struggle with that amount of games in such a short time. I can’t remember any team having to play that many games in such a short spell.

“They play a high-intensity game, so it’s a question of whether or not they can keep on going. Their season could be decided by that week with those four matches. Their schedule has been so demanding that if they do stay up then hats off to them, because it will be well earned.”

Ben Gibson takes Ten To Tackle

PA - Ben Gibson in action for Norwich City

Norwich defender Ben Gibson was our latest guest on Ten To Tackle. Unfortunately, he has been ruled out for the rest of the season with injury, but he was in fine form before that setback for the side running away at the top of the Championship, and he was on hand to answer our quickfire questions revealing, among other things, his hero growing up as a Middlesbrough fan and the best player he has ever played with.

“I’d have to say my hero was Gareth Southgate,” he said. “He was our captain and lifted the Carling Cup, which was our first trophy in 128 years, he was the man I looked up to, to be honest.

“I was a lucky enough to play with some of the lads who have gone on to be big England internationals like Harry Kane at under-21 level, so it’s probably him with what he has achieved in the game.”

Two from three in League One?

Image: Peterborough beat Accrington 7-0 on Saturday

It looks as though it will be two of Hull, Peterborough and Sunderland who will win promotion from League One this season. The Tigers are currently top of the table on 70 points, but have played a game more than Peterborough (69 points) and two more than Sunderland (67 points).

It is likely to be an extremely tight race, and Peterborough did their own credentials no harm with a 7-0 thumping of Accrington on Saturday.

Barker: “Nine of their first-choice starting line-up were missing, and especially without Jack Taylor and Siriki Dembele I thought it could be a tricky afternoon for them!

“The best bit was Darren Ferguson still shouting for decisions at 7-0, because he knew he needed to get their goal difference up. It could be crucial come the end of the season.”

Stevenage kicking on in League Two

Image: Stevenage boss Alex Revell

Stevenage are arguably fortunate to be playing in League Two this season, but are using a fortunate intervention to their advantage this campaign as they build for the future under Alex Revell. A hugely impressive run of form in 2021 could mark them as possible contenders for the top in 2021/22.

Barker: “Alex Revell said the club had to change from top to bottom, especially in terms of getting the stadium finished so it was somewhere good to go and play. He has now been given the tools and equipment.

“If he can take that into next season then they are a team to watch out for.”