Middlesbrough handed Aston Villa boost as Leeds dealt 'big challenge': Championship promotion race preview

With the Championship promotion race set to go down to the wire, this weekend's fixtures could prove key.

Saturday, 16th March 2019, 10:51 am
Updated Saturday, 16th March 2019, 10:53 am
Middlesbrough and their promotion rivals face a crucial weekend in the Championship promotion race

Middlesbrough and their rivals are still battling away to seal promotion to the top flight or a spot in the play-offs, with plenty of teams still feeling they have a realistic chance of finishing in the top six come May. There have already been plenty of twists and turns this season, and this weekend could see several more with some key fixtures at the top of the table. Scroll down and click through the pages to see how Boro and their promotion rivals could fare this weekend:

There's one obvious contender for game of the weekend as second-place Leeds take on Sheffield United, who currently sit third. This could go a long way to deciding automatic promotion.
Marcelo Bielsa admitted that Sheffield United posed a 'big challenge' to his side the last time they met, and he is expecting to be dealt a similar challenge this afternoon.

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Blades boss Chris Wilder, meanwhile, admitted that Leeds are 'arguably the best team in the division' and hailed the impact Bielsa has had on the Whites this season.
Boro have lost back-to-back games for the first time under Tony Pulis, and will be looking to bounce back against an Aston Villa side with designs on a play-off place themselves.
There is good news for Pulis ahead of the trip to Villa Park, with defender Dani Ayala available after his suspension following a red card in midweek was overturned.
The Canaries are currently sat two points clear of Leeds United, and face Rotherham in a game would could see them cement their place at the league summit.
If Rotherham are to spring a shock against the league leaders, they will have to do so without the influential Joe Mattock and Will Vaulks who are serving suspensions this weekend.
The Baggies currently sit just six points ahead of Middlesbrough and, while they look assured of a top six place, will face a tough trip to Brentford.
West Brom are still yet to appoint a new manager after parting company with Darren Moore, and first team coach Jimmy Shan will lead the side at Griffin Park.
Frank Lampard's side are without a game this weekend and won't be able to close the gap between themselves and the top six.
The Robins continue to defy expectations this campaign and are in touching distance of the top six, but they too are without a fixture this weekend.
The North West side sit two points outside the play-off places ahead of a local derby with Blackburn Rovers - who have been inconsistent throughout the campaign.
Martin O'Neill's side are still looking up to the top six, and could keep their play-off hopes burning with victory at relegation-threatened Ipswich Town.