THE BIG MATCH

Five teams, separated by just three points, are chasing three Play-Off places, making the game at Selhurst Park between fifth-placed Crystal Palace and Leicester City, in sixth, significant at the top of the npower Championship.

Palace were in the race for automatic promotion a month ago but a winless run of six games has seen them drop into the fiercely contested Play-Off pack.

A lack of goals has become a real worry for manager Ian Holloway - his men have failed to hit the net in their last five matches - and he has emphasised the importance of a good atmosphere in, what he describes, as a must-win fixture.

The former Blackpool boss told Palace Player: "Both teams have to win. We have got to try and take them on and beat them, one goal might make a huge difference.

"At the minute we have got one bloke who's scored 30 [Glenn Murray] and the rest of the team-mates aren't scoring.

"We'll try and share out that responsibility a bit, put some fresh people out there and let them have a go. We have got fantastic fans and they will come in and help us.

"They have created a wonderful atmosphere at Selhurst Park where there is no fear to play. We need that."

Leicester City, similar to Palace, have found positive results hard to come by lately. The Foxes ended a nine-game streak without a win last time out, beating Bolton Wanderers 3-2, and the three points gained saw them rise above the Trotters into a Play-Off place.

Manager Nigel Pearson is expecting his side to build on that win, against a Palace team that is lacking confidence.

He told www.lcfc.com: "We've got to make sure that our performance the other night [against Bolton], and a lot of the positives from the previous two games, are taken forward into this next game.

"It's going to be an interesting experience here on in. We've got three really tough games, the next one is against Palace but we've just got to try and keep our focus on ourselves.

"They [Crystal Palace] are experiencing quite a tough time themselves, but what remains the same is they know they've got the quality there. The form has eluded them of late and we are very aware of that scenario."

KEEP AN EYE ON

Watford's aim of automatic promotion could be over by Saturday evening if they are unable to beat a Blackburn Rovers side fighting to avoid the drop, at Vicarage Road.

The Hornets' chase for an automatic promotion spot has faltered of late with them now six points adrift of second-placed Hull City with just three games of the season left.

A run of one win in seven is what has seen Watford drop off the pace, and their last two matches have both ended in defeat - a 3-2 loss at Peterborough United was followed by a slender 1-0 defeat at Millwall.

Despite their recent poor form, Gianfranco Zola's side have been strong on home soil in 2013. Of their nine games at Vicarage Road they have lost just two and earned a goalless draw with leaders Cardiff City in their last fixture in front of their own fans.

Blackburn, meanwhile, gained three invaluable points with a 1-0 triumph over Huddersfield Town on Tuesday night. The win took Rovers out of the bottom three by two points and made it back-to-back victories after ending a 10-league game winless run last Saturday against Derby County.

With the Lancashire side still needing points to secure safety, boss Gary Bowyer believes his side need to be prepared for the challenge of Watford, a team he has a lot of admiration for.

"We are going to Watford, they play a certain formation and a certain style and we've got to be ready for that," Bowyer told www.rovers.co.uk.

"It is important that we get a game plan together so that we can come away with some points from that game.

"They've a legend of a manager [Gianfranco Zola], I think I'm going to have to take my autograph book if I'm being brutally honest, he was a fantastic player and he is proving to be a fantastic manager.

"But it isn't me against him, it is Blackburn Rovers verses Watford. We just have to make sure that we all stick together again and try and get something from the game."

ELSEWHERE IN THE DIVISION

This weekend's Championship action begins on Friday night at the KC Stadium where second-placed Hull City, needing the points to help them achieve Premier League football next season, entertain already-relegated Bristol City.

The Tigers have been inconsistent recently, winning nine and losing the other six fixtures since the beginning of February, but, with a win over the Robins, they could be a point away from promotion by the time Watford take to the field a day later.

At the other end of the table, the Robins will only be playing for pride this weekend after the league's bottom side had their demotion confirmed on Tuesday.

The two other sides in the relegation zone are Barnsley and Huddersfield Town. The Tykes are one point from safety and travel to Nottingham Forest, who are pushing for a top-six finish, while the Terriers are a point better off than Barnsley and host mid-table Millwall in Saturday's early kick-off.

Also featuring in an early start on Saturday is league leaders Cardiff City, who travel to Burnley. The Bluebirds secured promotion on Tuesday night but their attention will now turn to claiming the title which, providing they match or better Hull City's result, can be secured against the Clarets.

Wolverhampton Wanderers and Peterborough United are level with Huddersfield but outside of the drop zone on goal difference only.

Wolves gained their first victory in three games last time out, a 1-0 win over Hull, and they are hosted by Charlton Athletic this time around, while Peterborough put their 10-game undefeated run on the line when they travel to Pride Park to meet Derby County.

Posh's last game was a goalless draw with high-flying Brighton and Hove Albion and this weekend the fourth-placed Seagulls entertain Blackpool at the Amex Stadium.

Elsewhere, Bolton Wanderers are a point off the Play-Offs and entertain a Middlesbrough side that picked up only their third league win of the season last time out.

Leeds United have registered maximum points since the arrival of Brian McDermott as manager and they will hope to carry that on when they travel to St Andrews to take on Birmingham City.

Completing this weekend's fixtures; 18th-placed Sheffield Wednesday will be aiming to extend their three-point cushion above the drop zone when they meet Ipswich Town at Hillsborough.

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