Championship Football Preview, 12-14 January 2018
Championship football returns following last weekend’s FA Cup fixtures, with leaders Wolves, travelling to Barnsley hoping to extend their twelve-point advantage.
Barnsley v Wolves
Wolves have been highly impressive under new coach, Santo Espirito, losing just three league games this term and sit clear at the top of the Championship table. They take a twelve-game unbeaten league run, including ten wins, to a Barnsley side who won their first Championship game in eleven attempts, at Sunderland on New Year’s Day. With the form Wolves are in, it is hard to see anything but an away win.
Sheffield United v Sheffield Wednesday
The Steel City derby takes place on Friday night at Bramhall Lane, with both sides struggling for wins. The Blades had been competing at the top of the table, but one win in their last nine games has seen them slip out of the play-off places. Visiting Wednesday sit just below mid-table, having won just seven of their 26 league games, losing five of their last six fixtures. Both teams know they need to start picking up wins, but this could be a tight, edgy derby, with one-goal likely to win it.
Nottingham Forest v Aston Villa
Two former European Cup winners meet at the City Ground, with both clubs looking to rebuild after years of disappointment. Forest have recently replaced Mark Warburton in the hot seat, with former Middlesbrough manager, Aitor Karanka, with his new side sitting just below mid-table, with just one win in their last eight games. However, Forest produced a brilliant FA Cup display to beat holders Arsenal, 4-2 last weekend. Visiting Aston Villa have won their last two league games to lift themselves into the Championship play-offs, but will find it hard at a newly confident Forest.
Second-placed Derby travel to second-bottom Birmingham City, whilst third-placed Cardiff, who have lost their last four games, travel to bottom side Sunderland. EFL Cup hero’s, Bristol City, return to league action with a home tie against mid-table Norwich, and Leeds, occupying the final play-off spot, make the trip to Ipswich.
Middlesbrough and Fulham, two teams in pursuit of a play-off place, meet at the Riverside Stadium, whilst Preston in ninth, travel to Millwall. Brentford welcome improving Bolton, and QPR travel to Burton Albion.
Hull host Reading in the remaining Championship game.
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