We are treated to a full set of midweek fixtures in the Championship over the next two days and every game looks set to be a great match up. Because of this we are providing a preview of each of the 12 games on offer this midweek. All of tonight’s previews can be found by hitting next and tomorrow’s games will be added on Wednesday morning.
Birmingham City v Watford
A fine start for Gary Rowett on Saturday with a 0-0 draw at Wolves and more importantly signs of fight from his players. So far this season that has been lacking in the Blues game, but they were more than up for it against their local rivals. They go looking for their first win at St Andrews since the second game of the season.
Watford make the trip to the Midlands top of the Championship table and full of confidence. A weekend win over Millwall extended their unbeaten run in the league to nine games. Matej Vydra was in fine form in Saturday’s game with a goal and an assist. He is this game’s key man as the Hornets look to make it five wins in a row against the Blues.
Score prediction: 2-1 Watford win
Brighton & Hove Albion v Wigan Athletic
Sami Hyppia is having a rather torrid time at the moment. His side have not won since August and sit precariously above the relegation zone on just 13 points. Of late they have not had problems finding the net, but a lack of clean sheets has left them needing more than a single goal to get the three points. They have not had a shut out in any of their last six games and shipped three at Bournemouth last time out.
Wigan have also failed to hit the ground running this season, however are starting to get better. They are unbeaten in six games, although that run includes just one win. With three clean sheets in the run it is some improvement from the start of the year where the Lactics were leaking goals. Creative midfielder Callum McManaman remains a source of attacking threat for Wigan and he is this game’s key man.
Score prediction: 1-1 draw
Derby County v Huddersfield Town
A mini-blip, some bad luck or just complacency. Whichever you choose they do not cover up the fact that Derby have lost back-to-back league games for the first time since March. The home defeat to Wigan went against the form book, whilst conceding late on against Brentford to lose was very un-Derby. Nevertheless, it is no crisis and a win at home to Huddersfield could return them to the top of the table. Chris Martin tops the Championship goal charts with 10 for the season. Today is his 26th birthday and he is this game’s key man.
Huddersfield have been proved right in their appointment of Chris Powell as manager. Taking over a side that appeared to be at a loss with itself, the Terriers now seem full of confidence and ready to give anyone in the division a stern test. Grant Holt is finding his feet at the Galpharm and with pace down the flanks the balance of the team is just right. The weekend win over Forest shows that Huddersfield can mix it with the best and they will fancy their chances of taking something away from the iPro.
Score prediction: 1-1 draw
Ipswich Town v Wolves
Ipswich are repeating their style of last season in gradually picking up points leaving them within touching distance when it comes to the play-off mix. It is still so close at the top any run of wins can see a side shoot up the table. After ending a five game winless run at the weekend against Blackburn Mick McCarthy will be hoping his side can repeat their form from September where they won four games on the bounce. Daryl Murphy has reignited his strike partnership with David McGoldrick and is this game’s key man.
Wolves great start to the season is developing into something that could be seen as promotion form. Sitting forth in the table just two points behind leaders Watford puts them right in contention if they can maintain their record over the course of the season. In a tricky game against Birmingham, Wolves had to settle for a point and with a trip to former manager Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich side they would probably take another point tonight.
Score prediction: 2-1 Ipswich win
Leeds United v Charlton Athletic
Neil Redfearn was confirmed as Leeds new head coach at the weekend, but they did not change matters on the pitch as they lost 3-1 at Cardiff. United are now seven games without a win. Ironically the last win came when Redfearn was in caretaker charge. Defensive problems have returned and this will be the new manager’s priority. Leeds have not kept a clean sheet in five games, shipping nine in that time.
Charlton have managed to overcome their first and subsequent defeat which came soon after fairly well. A win over the improved Bolton and a point at the weekend against Bolton were seperated by a defeat at Fulham. Nevertheless, Charton still sit firmly in the top half just three points off of the play-offs. Igor Vetokele has possibly been one of the signings of the summer. He has already scored seven goals in his first season in English football and he is this game’s key man.
Score prediction: 2-0 Charlton win
Middlesbrough v Norwich City
It is always the quiet ones you have to keep an eye on. Aitor Karanka’s side have sneaked their way to third in the table and just two points behind leaders Watford. Their success has been built around a solid defensive unit which has the best record in the division. Boro have conceded just 12 goals in their 15 games, keeping no fewer than six clean sheets.
In Norwich we have the second best defence in the division with just 13 goals conceded to date, however to add to that the Canaries have scored an impressive 24 goals. Only Derby, Bournemouth and Watford have scored more. Norwich ended their baron run of five games without a win on Friday night against Bolton with Cameron Jerome netting a brace. He is this game’s key man.
Score prediction: 1-1 draw
Millwall v Blackburn
Trying to read this Millwall side is becoming quite a difficult start to the season. Whether it is the Ian Holloway effect or just a lack of consistency, but it really depends on the day if the player’s click into action or not. From impressive stalemates against Derby and Wolves to awful performances in defeats to Birmingham and Rotherham. Saying that the Lions have won just once since August and are slowly dropping into the relegation dog fight and need to get back to winning regularly.
Blackburn are finally clicking into gear after a mixed opening few months to the season. Unbeaten in five and three wins on the spin has seen them pull clear of the midtable pack and into the cluster of teams in the play-off mix. The strike partnership of Jordan Rhodes or Rudy Gestede is unplayable on their day, like at the weekend against Reading. Rhodes is playing catch up with his team mate who already has eight league goals for the season. The former Huddersfield striker remains the focal point however, and he is this game’s key man.
Score prediction: 3-1 Blackburn win
Sheffield Wednesday v AFC Bournemouth
It is amazing what one result can do to a teams season. At the end of September Wednesday looked one of the best sides in the division and were set for a big cup tie at Manchester City. Since the 7-0 hammering the Owls have failed to win. Quite a contrast to before that match where they have won four of their opening eight games. Three consecutive draws has steadied the ship and Stuart Gray will want a win against the inform Bournemouth.
There is no need to sing Bournemouth’s praises. The league and form table does that for them. What can be said is that they were very fortunate at the weekend to pick up the three points in a game where neither they or Brighton were at their best. However, the Cherries got the win and now sit second in the table knowing if Watford slip up they could end the night top of the table. Artur Boruc has been a superb capture for Bournemouth. In his six games between the sticks the Cherries have conceded just four goals, kept three clean sheets, winning five a drawing one. Acquiring his services in January could determine whether Bournemouth can seriously push for promotion. For now he is this game’s key man.
Score prediction: 2-0 Bournemouth win
Bolton Wanderers v Cardiff City
Neil Lennon will be content with the start he has made at Bolton. The side have not shown massive improvements but their are early signs of change. At least results have improved with two wins from his four games in charge. They battled well against Norwich, but there was a clear gulf in class between the two sides on the day. Matt Mills is a big player for the Trotters at the heart of the defence. Just two clean sheets this season is a record that must improve. Mills is this game’s key man.
Similarly Russell Slade will have mixed emotions over his start at Cardiff. From his four games at the helm the Bluebirds have won three but were well off the pace against Millwall. Cardiff are yet to win on the road this season, but have drawn four. If they can convert a couple of these stalemates into wins then they will soon be climbing into the play-offs.
Score prediction: 2-2 draw
Reading v Rotherham Untied
Pressure grows for Reading and Nigel Adkins. Another defeat in the weekend made it four defeats in five games, with one win coming against the league’s whipping boys Blackpool. A lack of leadership and any sort of system is angering fans and transferring to even poorer performances on the pitch. Defence is the main issue. The Royals have let in 26 goals, conceding three or more goals on six times. A statistic that is bound to leave you looking down the table not up.
Rotherham have really surprised a few this season. Expected to be one of the favourites for relegation, it has been a very different story. Defeat at the weekend against Middlesbrough ended a five game unbeaten run, however the Millers still sit seventeenth in the table and five points clear of the drop zone. If they can make it to 25 points by Christmas they will be confident of surviving the drop. Adam Collin can expect a busy day between the sticks and he is this game’s key man as Rotherham attempt to avoid back-to-back defeats, which they have not yet tasted this season.
Score prediction: 2-1 Reading win
Preview to come on Wednesday morning.