The Championship table still remains heavily congested at the top end as we come to the end of November. With sides looking to mount some sort of breakaway, whilst the battle at the bottom continues to simmer, it is set to be weekend of great action. We preview five of the weekend’s Championship games in detail.
Charlton Athletic v Ipswich Town – 12:15 kick off
This weekend’s televised offering from the Championship is between the Addicks and the Tractor Boys at the Valley.
After their fine unbeaten start to the season, Charlton have stuttered recently, winning just once in their last five league games. Despite this they remain only two points outside the play-off spots. The Addicks success this season is going to come down to whether or not they can score enough goals. They have a solid defensive unit, just 18 goals conceded and five clean sheets. With Ipswich in town, Charlton are going to have to deal with a varied attacking threat. Defender André Bikey has been a good summer signing and will need to be on form this weekend and he is this game’s key man.
Ipswich continue to prove their promotion credentials in their recent results. Last week they showed great character at Bournemouth. They trailed twice in the match and had to cope without the ball for long periods of the games. Nevertheless, they took their chances and earned a valuable point from the Cherries. With two winnable games coming up against Bolton and Leeds if Ipswich could win this weekend they could very well find themselves in the top two going into Christmas.
Score prediction: 1-1 draw
Birmingham City v Nottingham Forest
Resurgent Birmingham, under new boss Gary Rowett, host Nottingham Forest who are looking to get back amongst the promotion mix.
Quite what is going at Birmingham is difficult to tell, but Gary Rowett has managed to turn things around in a matter of weeks since taking over at St Andrews. The squad are playing for the shirt and showing commitment that was missing in the previous regime. Four games unbeaten under Rowett, with two wins and two draws, conceding just once. This has taken the Blues out of the bottom three, although they are still only one point clear of the relegation zone. Another win this weekend will relieve any immediate concerns about the drop.
After an abysmal run from mid-September to early November featured ten games without a win, including four defeats. However, back-t0-back wins has restored some faith in Forest fans and the talent in the squad is clear to see. To beat Wolves 3-0 away from home is the way to make a statement in the Championship and it is not going to take miracles to get back amongst the top six for Stuart Pearce’s side. Britt Assombalonga remains the main threat for the Reds. He tops the goalscoring charts with 11 goals and is this game’s key man.
Score prediction: 2-1 Birmingham win
Brentford v Wolverhampton Wanderers
The surprise package of the season in Brentford host fellow promoted side in Wolves in a clash between two sides who could both feature in the play-off mix come the end of the season.
No-one predicted that the Bees would find themselves in the top six come the end of November, however now they are there their aims for the season have got to be reevaluated. After four wins in a row confidence is high in the squad and with the goals flowing, 10 in their last four, they fancy their chances of beating anyone in the division. Mark Warburton could name an unchanged from last week’s win against Fulham and that will leave Andre Gray leading the line. The former Luton man has made a fine start to life in the Championship with six league goals. Gray is this game’s key man.
November has been a month to forget for Wolves fans. So far four games played and just a single point gained, with losses in each of their last three games. It does not get any better looking at their record away from home this. Kenny Jackett’s side have won just twice on the road the season and have conceded seven times in their last two trips away from Molineux.
Score prediction: 1-1 draw
Middlesbrough v Blackburn Rovers
One of the more consistent teams this season in Middlesbrough host a Blackburn side who have been playing some great football which has led to them making it into the top six.
Middlesbrough have been consistent since mid-September, losing just once in their last 13 games. This run has seen them remain within touching distance of the top spot without claiming it as their own. With games against Derby, Ipswich, Nottingham Forest and a return trip to Blackburn all to come in December, the month is going to test Boro’s ability to cope with the big match situation. For the time being they will want to make it a 5th win at the Riverside this season. Lee Tomlin has revelled in his role for Middlesbrough this season providing a creative menace. He is this game’s key man.
Blackburn have been one of the form teams of late in the Championship. After a start to the season that left a lot to be desired, with fans worried of another mid-table finish, the players have stepped up in the past month or so a laid down a marker to the rest of the league. Rovers’ current unbeaten run stretches eight games, including four wins and as many draws. This upturn in form has put them up to 6th in the table and just two points adrift of the automatic promotion spots.
Score prediction: 2-2 draw
Rotherham United v Blackpool
The battle at the bottom of table this weekend comes from the New York stadium as the Millers host the Tangerines in a real six pointer.
After a promising start to the season for one of the league’s smallest clubs things have taken a turn for the worst. Without a win since mid-October and just a single point from their last four games has put Rotherham in the relegation zone going into this weekend’s game. Goals have really dried up for the Millers, as they have failed to find the net in their last four games and have only scored more than once in a game on four occasions. They have brought in several loan signings who could all feature. Alex Revell scored some massive goals to get Rotherham promoted last season, but he has struggled at times this season. He is this game’s key man.
Life under Lee Clark has hardly been ground breaking for Blackpool in turning their form around. Two draws from last three games has still left them adrift at the bottom of the table and everyone is starting to run out of ideas. Loan signings Kevin Foley and Stuart O’Keefe have joined the squad and could play some part in the game this weekend. With every passing week the task is getting more difficult for the Tangerines. They are already 10 points away from safety and defeat to a relegation rival could just be another nail in their coffin for the season.
Score prediction: 2-0 Rotherham win
Other fixtures with score predictions
Saturday 3pm kick offs
Bolton Wanderers 2-1 Huddersfield Town
AFC Bournemouth 2-0 Millwall
Brighton & Hove Albion 0-0 Fulham
Leeds United 0-2 Derby County
Norwich City 3-1 Reading
Sheffield Wednesday 0-1 Wigan Athletic
Watford 2-2 Cardiff City