After last week’s international break the Championship returns as we now start the winter run up to the busy festive period. There are some big meetings at the bottom of the table along with some interesting encounters as always. We preview five of the games in detail.
Doncaster Rovers v Yeovil
We begin this weeks preview with a look at the Friday evening televised clash between two of the promoted sides at the Keepmoat. It has been clear to see that over the first few months of the season these sides have found it difficult to cope with the step up in class and establish themselves. Despite this, both have shown some glimpses of real quality but it is going to be a long winter as they fight to steer clear of the foot of the table. The recent form of these sides is almost identical with just four points to show from their last six games so this really is a clear “six-pointer”. Yeovil are the leagues lowest scorers and will be looking to Paddy Madden to rekindle his form from last season and score his first goal at this level. He is this games key man.
Score prediction: 1-1 draw
Sheffield Wednesday v Huddersfield Town
Nothing better than a fierce Yorkshire derby on the television in the early lunchtime kick off to water the mouth of football fans. Wednesday’s start to the season has been well publicised with them only picking up their first win in November and it seems their struggles have rubbed off on nearby Huddersfield who have won just one of their last eight following a promising start to the season. The Terriers main problem has been a failure to keep the goals out, eleven conceded in their last five is far from a water tight defence. They will be in for another tough afternoon as Wednesday may not be topping the goal charts but have consistently been scoring all season. Since joining on loan Matty Fryatt has rekindled his form and will look to help Wednesday to their second win of the season. He is this games key man.
Score prediction: Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 win
Millwall v Barnsley
Another week and another vital game for David Flitcroft and his struggling Barnsley side as this weekend they travel to the New Den. Millwall have been sliding down the table in recent weeks as boss Steve Lomas still tries to convince fans he is the right man for the job. It has been a far from easy start to management in the Championship for both of these young managers although Flitcroft has got his side holding their own of late, unbeaten in four and finally catching up ground after a woeful start to the season.The Lions have failed to have a figure head at the front of their attack with two players equal top league scorers on just three goals. In comparison the Tykes have Chris O’Grady leading the line with seven league goals so far this term. He is this games key man.
Score prediction: Barnsley 2-0 win
Nottingham Forest v Burnley
A meeting of two of the top six’s ever presents so far this season at the City Ground as Sean Dyche takes his pacesetters to face off against Billy Davies’ men. By the high standards that Burnley have set themselves thus far they have blipped with consecutive draws away at Millwall and at home to Bournemouth. Despite this they still maintain a two point gap at the Championship summit whilst Forest have been indifferent of late with a blend of brilliance and wastefulness. Last time out it was opportunistic to say the least as they returned from the King Power stadium with the spoils and left Leicester wondering how it got away from them. Forest’s game is based on the foundations of a solid back line and against the dynamic duo of Ings and Vokes they are going to be sharp from the first whistle to the last. Since taking over the gloves last season Karl Darlow has established himself as one of the leagues best goal keepers and expect him to have a busy afternoon against the league leaders. He is this games key man.
Score prediction: 2-2 draw
Watford v Bolton Wanderers
From looking at table you would be mistaken for thinking the hosts were the side unbeaten in their last seven and the visitors have failed to win in their last four. Well think again. Bolton only find themselves behind leaders Burnley and barnstorming Leeds in the form table whilst Watford lie in the bottom five. A combination of individual errors, bad refereeing decisions and sublime strikes from the opposition has seen Gianfranco Zola’s side lose ground in the promotion hunt and he would have been more than grateful for the international break to regroup and go again. Inevitably Bolton would have wished to continue having cleared the relegation zone after a tough start as Dougie Freedman makes his plans for a play off challenge. The mercurial Jermaine Beckford has found his shooting boots netting four goals in his last five games. He is this games key man.
Score prediction: Watford 2-1 win
Remaining fixtures with predictions
Birmingham 1 Blackpool 2
Blackburn 0 Reading 1
Bournemouth 2 Derby 2
Ipswich 1 Leicester 1
Leeds 3 Middlesborough 0
QPR 2 Charlton 0
Wigan 1 Brighton 1