RAFAEL BENITEZ always said April would be the significant month in the race for an automatic promotion place in the Championship – and that is how it has turned out.

There have been plenty signs of nervousness in Newcastle United‘s play for a number of weeks, failing to claim victories over Reading, Fulham, Birmingham and, most recently, Sheffield Wednesday.

The back-to-back home wins over struggling Wigan and Burton – which were hardly routine – have at least kept them ahead of the chasing pack, but appear to have been crucial results in the grander scheme of things.

Had Newcastle not won those, they would be looking worryingly over their shoulders. Huddersfield, Reading and Leeds have all had little stutters of their own, enabling Newcastle to stay comfortably ahead of the rest.

Given Huddersfield, unlike Leeds and Reading, have a game in hand on the two teams above them, only the Terriers realistically can harbour hopes of finishing in the top two.

Brighton are the form team, though, and more certain of securing a top two spot. Newcastle should join them too despite recent frustrations, although even if it means having to go up as runners-up rather than champions.

The Friday visit of Leeds United will have a huge bearing on the destination of the title. A lot could depend on how Brighton perform in the earlier Good Friday kick-off.

If the Seagulls leave Molineux with maximum points then the pressure will have been placed on Newcastle. Assuming Leeds, well organised and dangerous under Gary Monk regardless of a dip in form, leave Tyneside with at least a point then Brighton will have the advantage going into the remaining four games of the title run-in.

Having taken a look at the remaining games and predicted the outcomes of the fixtures, Brighton look destined to claim the Football league crown Newcastle won in 2010, with Huddersfield finishing behind them both.


Wolves (a) W

Wigan (h) W

Norwich (a) L

Bristol City (h) W

Aston Villa (a) D

Current points: 86

Predicted points: 96

Predicted position: 1st


Leeds (h) D

Ipswich (a) D

Preston (h) W

Cardiff (a) D

Barnsley (h) W

Current points: 84

Predicted points: 93

Predicted position: 2nd


Preston (h) W

Derby (a) L

Fulham (h) D

Wolves (a) D

Birmingham (a) W

Huddersfield (h) W

Current points: 74

Predicted points: 85

Predicted position: 3rd or below