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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Big Match Preview

Sheffield Wednesday vs. Crystal Palace
Sunday May 2, 13:00, Hillsborough

It's a relegation showdown in the Steel City this Sunday as Sheffield Wednesday and Crystal Palace battle it out knowing, come full time, one of them will be relegated to League One.

Their respective seasons and nine months worth of matches come down to just 90 minutes to shape their destiny.

Wednesday go into the match knowing anything less than a win will consign them to relegation from the Championship after five seasons back in the second tier.

If they do emerge victorious, it will be Palace who take the drop into League One to complete a miserable season for the Londoners - who are only still in trouble after entering administration and having ten points deducted.

For Alan Irvine's Owls, this game represents a huge lifeline. Despite not winning in their last six games, they still have a chance of staying up.

Their home record since the Scot was appointed in January has generally been good, collecting 17 points from ten matches.

That's included vital wins over fellow strugglers Watford, Plymouth, and Peterborough, and impressive victories against high flying Blackpool and Leicester.

A repeat performance will be required this weekend with Irvine looking to top scorer Marcus Tudgay and strike partner Luke Varney to find the goals which could mean salvation.

Messrs Irvine and Hart face a tense final day at Hillsborough

Despite their position at the bottom - Palace will travel to South Yorkshire with great confidence - knowing only promoted duo Newcastle and West Brom are harder to beat on the road in the Championship this term.

They've lost just five of their 22 away games this term, albeit drawing half of them. However, a 12th draw would be enough to see them send Wednesday down and retain their place in the second tier.

They'll be conscious though that they could have already sealed survival in recent weeks, and missed another opportunity with Monday evening's draw against West Brom.

Eagles boss Paul Hart will have to without the services of winger, and second top scorer, Neil Danns - after his sending off against the Baggies. However, top scorer Darren Ambrose, who has bagged 19 from midfield, could be vital to their hopes.

You can almost forget all the past 45 matches when looking ahead to this one. It's a one-off, almost play-off final affair. The pressure will be intense in front of a huge crowd at Hillsborough.

Wednesday have to win, but that can often be an easier way to approach a game compared to Palace - who know they only need to avoid defeat.

For that reason, and home advantage, as well as a penchant for final day drama - I'm going for Wednesday to sneak it and stay up.

Nobes' Prediction: Sheffield Wednesday 2 Crystal Palace 1

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