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Match Previews

CHAMPIONSHIP: MATCH 20 PREVIEW

5 December 2014


The Championship is once again living up to the reputation of being one of the toughest leagues in football as anyone of five teams could end the weekend top of the table. At the other end, seven different teams could find themselves in the drop zone come Saturday evening, making it another intriguing weekend of football.


TOP V BOTTOM
There are a number of top versus bottom clashes that will be key to shaping the table come Saturday evening. One of those ties sees league leaders Derby County welcome 22nd placed Brighton and Hove Albion to the East Midlands. The Seagulls could go as high as 18th with an much needed win and one thing in their favour in the race to beat the drop is their goal difference. They currently have the best out of the bottom eight teams. The Rams are a team who could damage that goal difference, already scoring 35 goals this season, a total only bettered by Bournemouth. Both teams enter the game on the back of defeats with County losing away at Leeds United and Albion at home to Fulham. 

Brentford have hit remarkable form lately, winning their last five games and propelling themselves to third in the table, just a single point behind Steve McClaren’s Derby. Huddersfield Town have not had a run of results to match their opponents. Town had been six games unbeaten but have now slumped to no win in the last four, losing three. It has meant that the Terriers are now 19th overall and three points above the relegation. This will be the first time the two teams have met in the second tier of English football since 1952. Huddersfield won 3-1 that day but the form books point to a different result this weekend.

Millwall and Middlesbrough meet on Saturday afternoon with completely contrasting form. Millwall have won once in 10 games while Aitor Karanka’s Boro’ have lost once in 10. Middlesbrough are fifth in the table, two points from the summit while the home team a in 20th just two points from the bottom three. However, the Teesiders will travel to London with a slight dip in form, managing just three draws in as many games. The Lions also come into the game with two draws. Ian Holloway’s men may have trouble breaking down the visitors as they have only let seven past them away from home. Milwall have also struggled to find the net with Ricardo Fuller being the only player to reach three goals for the season. Points could be vital for Boro as their next two fixtures pitches them up against first placed Derby and second placed Ipswich.


CHASING PACK
Thanks to some great recent form Cardiff City are now well and truly in and amongst the chasing pack. After an impressive win at Watford it is back to the Welsh capital to face Rotherham United. City have climbed to eighth in the table and to within just six points of first place and a win on Saturday could lift the Bluebirds into the playoff places. The Millers make the long trip south with no win in their last seven fixtures and off the back of a 1-1 draw with bottom side Blackpool. It is not the first time the Yorkshire outfit have visited South Wales this season after being knocked out of the League Cup by Swansea City earlier in the year. It is the first time the two have met since a 2-2 draw in 2004 and Rotherham have a strong record against the Bluebirds winning 22 compared to City’s 11. Cardiff have won all five home games under Russell Slade and have the best home form in the league with 21 points from nine games. On the other hand, United have won just once on the road this term.

Two teams that have fallen from grace a little in recent weeks have been Charlton Athletic and Nottingham Forest. Both had lengthy unbeaten runs at the start of the season only to struggle recently. From sitting pretty at the top of the pile Forest now sit in ninth with Athletic just a place behind in 10th, both on 28 points. Forest have won just twice in the last 10 but they have both come in their last three games. They also have the league’s top scorer at their disposal, Britt Assombalonga. The Congolese forward has already got 12 goals this campaign. It could be a tough afternoon trying to add to the tally as the Addicks have the third best defence in the league and have only been defeated once at the valley thus far.


BEST OF THE REST
Wolverhampton Wanderers have played the top three in the division in their last four games and as result they have lost four in a row. To make their ordeal even worse they welcome fourth placed AFC Bournemouth to Molineux on Saturday. Along with Brentford, Eddie Howe’s Cherries have been somewhat of a surprise package this season. They are now nine games with no defeat, winning six but the three draws have come in the last three games. In six of their last seven games Bournemouth have scored two or more goals, including an 8-0 drubbing of Birmingham City. There have only been eight meetings between Wolves and Bournemouth and it is Kenny Jackett’s team who have history against them. Wolves have just one league win against the south coast team and have not recorded a win in this fixture since 1989.

FULL CHAMPIONSHIP FIXTURE LIST
Unless stated 15:00

FRIDAY 5 DECEMBER 2014
Fulham v Watford (19.45)

SATURDAY 6 DECEMBER 2014
Blackburn v Sheffield Wed
Blackpool v Birmingham
CARDIFF V ROTHERHAM
Derby v Brighton
Huddersfield v Brentford
Ipswich v Leeds
Millwall v Middlesbrough
Nottingham Forest v Charlton
Reading v Bolton
Wigan v Norwich
Wolves v Bournemouth


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