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Match Previews

npower Championship weekend preview

26 October 2012

THE BIG MATCH

Crystal Palace will hope to maintain the momentum installed by former boss Dougie Freedman - who has taken over at Bolton Wanderers - when they travel to npower Championship table-toppers Leicester City.

The Eagles weren't expected to be in and around the top of the table this season, particularly after a poor start, but they now sit fourth following an unbeaten run of nine matches which dates back to August.

Despite Freedman's departure, defender Peter Ramage believes the team remain upbeat, telling the Advertiser Sport: "We fear nobody in this league and results have shown throughout the season that anybody can beat anybody.

"We go to Leicester full of confidence, go and do what we do best, and hopefully we can get a positive result."

The vastly experienced Lennie Lawrence, who was Freedman's number two, is taking charge of the team for the game against the Foxes and it's certainly a case of straight in at the deep end for the 64-year-old.

Nigel Pearson's men have overcome six clubs on home soil to date, the latest being Brighton and Hove Albion, who they beat 1-0 in midweek, and another victory would see the club record their best home start to a season in 106 years.

Striker Andy King, who scored the winner against the Seagulls, believes visiting teams are starting to become intimidated at the King Power Stadium.

He told the Leicester Mercury: "I think teams come maybe with that mentality where they are a little bit scared to come to this ground now.

"That is especially the case when there are 25,000 fans getting behind us, like they did on Tuesday night, which was outstanding. I think teams will start to fear us on home soil.

"We are set up with a good game-plan and everyone is working really hard for each other, and the drive from everyone in the squad is there. We really want to be successful as a group and that is showing."

KEEP AN EYE ON

Like Palace, rock-bottom Ipswich Town are also without a permanent boss, following Paul Jewell's departure in midweek, and they at home to Sheffield Wednesday, who sit second bottom.

Jewell left the Tractor Boys following a home loss to Derby County on Tuesday night, which was their 11th straight game without a victory.

Chris Hutchings has been placed in caretaker charge and he has the perfect opportunity to lift the gloom around Portman Road by moving off the bottom of the table in his first game in charge.

The travelling Owls are just two points better off than Ipswich, meaning a win for Hutchings' men would lift them above their opponents.

The 55-year-old told the Star: "We're bottom of the league, but my glass is always half full and I believe the only way is up. That's what I'm going to get across to the players. We're going to be very positive in everything we do.

"I'll pick the team for what I think will win the game - simple as that. I'll get no interference. I'll speak to my staff, but ultimately it will be my decision.

"I'm caretaker manager for now and everyone will be fighting in the right direction, don't worry about that."

Wednesday travel to Suffolk off the back of a loss to Blackburn Rovers - a result that left them without a win in nine.

Dave Jones' men are in fact on a worse run than Ipswich, as they have only managed to collect two points from their last nine matches, while the Tractor Boys have recorded three in the same number of matches.

The former Cardiff City boss, who guided the Steel City club to promotion from npower League 1 last term, played down the significance of the fixture.

"Everyone will look at the next game as a big game for us because of where both teams are in the league, but every game in this division is a big game," the 56-year-old told www.swfc.co.uk.

"Every game is difficult because that is the level we are playing at. But if we can play like we did tonight [Wednesday, in a 1-0 loss to Blackburn], then I have no doubt we will turn this run around."

ELSEWHERE IN THE DIVISION

Burnley are another managerless side in the npower Championship and they are up against second-placed Cardiff City.

Terry Pashley is the man currently in caretaker charge of the Clarets and he has guided the team to two valuable wins - against Blackpool and Bristol City - in their last two outings.

Cardiff pose a much tougher threat, though, and will be buoyed by their midweek victory against Watford, which saw them come from a goal down to win 2-1 at the death.

Burnley sit mid-table on 17 points in what is an extremely tight npower Championship table; with Birmingham City down in 20th just six points off eighth-placed Leeds United.

And those two sides meet this weekend. The Blues will be hungry for the win, knowing the three points could lift them up the table, while Neil Warnock's men will be after the victory to take them into the Play-Off places.

The Play-Off spots are currently occupied by Middlesbrough, Blackburn Rovers and Wolverhampton Wanderers, as well as the aforementioned Crystal Palace.

Third-placed Boro face Bolton Wanderers in what will be Dougie Freedman's first match as the new Trotters boss. The 38-year-old will be eager to have an instant impact but Tony Mowbray's men will want to end the honeymoon period before it even gets started.

Blackburn Rovers, who also remain without a permanent boss, host Watford, and Wolves welcome Charlton Athletic to the Molineux.

At the other end of the division, Peterborough United will hope to build on their midweek victory over Huddersfield Town as they host Derby County.

Elsewhere, Barnsley in 17th, and 11th-placed Nottingham Forest, who are separated by three points in the standings, go head-to-head at Oakwell, while Blackpool and Brighton, who have just a point between them, meet at Bloomfield Road.

The remaining games in the npower Championship this weekend see Bristol City take on Hull City and Millwall host Huddersfield Town.

Click here for all the weekend's action


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