CHAMPIONSHIP: MATCH 17 PREVIEW
Match Previews7th November
After a testing evening on Tuesday, Russell Slade’s Cardiff City will be looking to rectify their away form at St Andrews, where they face Birmingham City on Saturday afternoon. Birmingham enter the game on the back of two impressive results against highflying teams. They drew 0-0 with Wolves but managed a 2-1 victory against Watford last time out. A goalless draw is unlikely in this fixture with the Bluebirds yet to record an away clean sheet and the Blues’ only managing one at home this campaign.
TOP CLUB CLASHES
In a remarkable coincidence the top six are all playing each other this weekend. Top of the league AFC Bournemouth travel to second placed Middlesbrough looking for their eighth win in a row. Both teams currently sit on 30 points but the South Coast side are ahead on goal difference. Eddie Howe’s men have a difficult task in store with Boro’ picking up just one loss in their last 10 games. It could be a tight affair as it pits the best attack in the league against the best defence. The Cherries have scored 33 times in 16 games while Middlesbrough have only let in 12 goals so far.
Fifth meets third on Saturday afternoon when Watford visit Portman Road. Ipswich Town have one of the top three home records in the division while in the scoring charts Watford are only second to table toppers Bournemouth. The Tractor Boys are just three points off top, while the Hornets are just the one and depending on the result at the Riverside could top the table once more come Saturday evening.
The final top six clash sees Derby County welcome Wolverhampton Wanderers to the iPro Stadium. Wolves have the upper hand when it comes to past meetings in the second tier with the Rams only managing one win in 10 outings. The team in Gold and Black have won five with four ending in draws. Fitness could be key for Kenny Jackett’s men as County have scored 11 of their 28 goals in the last 15 minutes of games.
The fixture list has thrown up three local battles this weekend. The furthest of the three is Brentford’s journey to Millwall. They will travel 12.9 miles to face the Lions on Saturday. They are two teams with contrasting fortunes this season. Ian Holloway’s side have just one win in 10 and are three points off the drop zone while under the guidance of Mark Warburton, Brentford are sixth in the form table and just two points off the play-off places.
Wigan Athletic will be traveling just over seven miles to play Neil Lennon’s Bolton Wanderers in the Sky Bet Championship’s late Friday kick-off. With the former Celtic man in charge they have won both their home fixtures and recorded three wins from five. Suring up their home record will be a priority as the Whites have taking the lead seven times at home but have recorded just three wins. The Latics have picked up just one victory away from the DW Stadium this season and it came from an unlikely source, Derby County.
Also travelling just over seven miles will be Rotherham United who have a Yorkshire derby against Sheffield Wednesday. It is going to be a match up with a team who have been struggling at home against a team who are finding it difficult to pick up points away. Wednesday have scored three quarters of their goals away from Hillsborough, while the Millers have picked up three points away from the New York Stadium just once this term. This will be the first time the two teams have met in a league meeting since 2003, where the Owls managed a 2-0 victory at Rotherham on that occasion.
OUT OF FORM
Two teams who were early pace setters but have slowed in recent weeks have been Nottingham Forest and Norwich City. The two meet at the City Ground this weekend. Forest have fallen from being unbeaten at the top of the league to being bottom of the form tables, only managing four points from their last eight fixtures with no win in nine. Their challengers from Norfolk have also failed to match their early highs with one win their last seven. If they are to turn it around against Stuart Pearce’s side expect goals in the second half. The Canaries have scored 91% of their away goals in the second period.
It is getting tight at the bottom of the Championship and even with their current position five places above the relegation area, Leeds United could drop to the bottom three if they lose at home to Blackpool. Like Forest, United have managed just four points in their last eight games with no win. The Tangerines have not won away from home but will be looking to change that under new boss Lee Clark. Not many things have gone right for Blackpool so far and have gained the tags of having the worst discipline and lowest goal tally in the Championship. They have received 36 yellow and one red card in 16 games and have only scored 10 times. Both Ipswich’s Daryl Murphy and Derby’s Chris Martin have scored the same amount as the whole Blackpool team.
Full Championship Fixture List
Friday 7th November
Bolton v Wigan (20:00)
Saturday 8th November
Derby v Wolves (12:15)
Birmingham v Cardiff
Brighton v Blackburn
Fulham v Huddersfield
Ipswich v Watford
Leeds v Blackpool
Middlesbrough v Bournemouth
Millwall v Brentford
Nottingham Forest v Norwich
Reading v Charlton
Sheffield Wednesday v Rotherham