Last week we saw several of the sides at the top end of the table drop points, whilst things got more interesting at the bottom. With another full programme of Championship fixtures we preview five of the big games in detail ahead of the weekend.
Fulham v Watford (Friday 7:45 kick off)
As Fulham continue to claw their way back up the table after an abysmal start face a Watford side heading in the wrong direction after showing real character over the opening few months of the season.
Fulham have showed real signs of improvement under Kit Symons as they make up for lost time this season with just a single point from their opening eight Championship matches. They have been beaten just once in their last eight and taken 15 points from a possible 24. At Craven Cottage their record has been even more impressive with four wins and a draw from their last five home matches. Hugo Rodallega has put in some match winning performances in recent matches and he is this game’s key man.
Watford will be rather concerned with their recent form. After a similarly impressive start last season a baron run throughout winter saw them drift down into mid-table. Four defeats in succession scoring just twice left them with just three points to show for their efforts in November. More importantly they have slid from the top two down to 7th. There main issue has been at the back where they have failed to keep a clean sheet since their win against Sheffield Wednesday eight games ago.
Score prediction: 2-1 Fulham win
Derby County v Brighton & Hove Albion
Derby come into this one looking to get back on track and in Brighton they face a side who are lacking any sort of form as they have slipped down into the bottom three.
It is going to be interesting to see whether last week’s match against Leeds was a mere blip in Derby’s season or a sign that they are not quite the finished article that many people see them as. Despite the defeat they remain top of the league, however with teams queuing up behind them another slip up will not go unpunished. At times the Rams do have a tendency to leak goals even when on top in games. They have conceded two or more goals on six occasions already this season. Chris Martin will lead the line and remains the Rams main threat. He is this game’s key man.
Brighton’s season is just going from bad to worse. Just three wins so far this season, with only one coming from their last 15 games. Amazingly in that run they had no fewer than five 1-1 draws showing that they have at times good character to fight back in a game, but also perhaps an inability to kill a game off when they have the chance. They have not won on the road since August, although managed to earn a credible four draws from their past six away games. Darren Bent scored on debut last week and fans will be hoping he can add some firepower to a fairly blunt attacking line-up.
Score prediction: 3-0 Derby win
Huddersfield Town v Brentford
After a turnaround in form, Huddersfield have reverted to type over the last month as they get drawn back into the relegation mix. Meanwhile, their opponents Brentford have been setting the league alight in recent weeks.
Concern will be returning to the forefront of Huddersfield fans after their recent form. After showing much improvement in a seven game unbeaten run they have failed to win any of their last four, losing three. Much like the opening couple of months of the season the goals have dried up for the Terriers and their strike force including Grant Holt and Nahki Wells is feeling to get the required results. Defence still remains an area of concern, especially against free scoring Brentford. Chris Powell’s side have kept just four clean sheets so far this season.
Mark Warburton’s Brentford side sit high and mighty in both the league and form table. With their convincing win over Wolves last week they are now on a run of five consecutive wins, good enough to put them top of the form charts, and 3rd in the league just a single point behind Derby. What has been so impressive about the Bees is the way in which they have not backed down against the bigger sides in the league and relished the opportunity to cause an upset. Wins over Forest and Derby examples of this. Midfielder Stuart Dallas has been a real source of creativity for Brentford and he is this game’s key man.
Score prediction: 1-1 draw
Ipswich Town v Leeds United
Ipswich have been playing some fantastic football recently and more importantly been getting the results to back it up. In Leeds they face who side who on their day, as they proved last week, can cause any team in the division problems.
Much like the aforementioned Brentford, Ipswich have been playing some fine football recently and results have helped them push for the top spot. After a very fine result at Bournemouth a fortnight ago, last week they grabbed all three points at Charlton with a last minute winner from Noel Hunt. The Tractor Boys have lost just once since August and are currently unbeaten in their last six games, claiming 14 points in the run. Ipswich are one of the Championship’s most clinical sides and they have score at least once in each of their last 15 league game’s. Striker Daryl Murphy has shone this season scoring 11 Championship goals, behind just Britt Assombalonga in the goal scoring charts. Murphy is this game’s key man.
Whilst Leeds United may no longer have an official owner, well at least until March, with Massimo Cellino disqualified from being owner of the club by the Football League. In playing terms it has been a positive week for Leeds. They have shown signs of being a side that can put together some real quality performances, however last weekend’s victory over league leaders Derby is their best of the season. The task now for Neil Redfearn and the playing staff at Elland Road is to finally show some consistency this season and climb up the table with a solid run of results.
Score prediction: 1-0 Ipswich win
Wolverhampton Wanderers v AFC Bournemouth
Wolves come into this game on a baron run of form and with Bournemouth occupying a top two spot for around a month now they will be going to Molineux to try and claim all three points.
Wolves season has gone majorly off the rails in the past month. Over the opening three months of the season they were a consistent member of the top six, but a shocking run throughout November with a draw followed by four back-to-back defeats has dropped them down to 12th in the table. With a shocking 12 goals conceded in their last three games with none scored is quite a difference to the side that let in just three times in the opening eight league games of the season.
After surprising a fair share of people in the game with a run that put them top of the Championship, Bournemouth have had to settle for three draws in a row from their last three matches. Their match against Ipswich was a tough test in which they failed to play their best, whilst last week they were very complacent in letting a two goal lead slip at home to Millwall. A win last week would have put them top, so they will be looking to get back to winning ways this week. Artur Boruc is on loan at the Cherries until January and has steadied the defence that at times looked rather timid against physical sides. He is yet to lose in his 11 games between the sticks and with Wolves having a host of attacking options the Polish international is this game’s key man.
Score prediction: 2-1 Bournemouth win
Other fixtures with score predictions
Saturday 3pm kick offs
Blackburn Rovers 2-0 Sheffield Wednesday
Blackpool 0-1 Birmingham City
Cardiff City 2-0 Rotherham
Millwall 1-3 Middlesbrough
Nottingham Forest 1-1 Charlton
Reading 2-1 Charlton
Wigan 0-0 Norwich