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Match Previews

Sky Bet Championship New Year's Day preview

31 December 2013

Birmingham City v Barnsley

Birmingham City begin 2014 with a battle against bottom club Barnsley at St Andrew's in the Sky Bet Championship.

The Blues beat Blackburn Rovers 3-2 on Sunday to go nine games unbeaten, during which time they have won four to take 17 points from 27 and move into 17th. Barnsley are rooted to the foot of the table, five points from safety after back-to-back defeats at home to Bolton and Derby.

The last four meetings between these sides has seen the away team return home with all three points - Birmingham winning three, with one victory for the Tykes. However, Danny Wilson's team have only collected five points from 11 games on the road this season - the worst away return.

Bolton Wanderers v Middlesbrough

Middlesbrough will be looking to continue 2014 where they finished 2013, as they go in search of a fourth consecutive win when they travel to Bolton Wanderers.

Aitor Karanka's Boro have overcome Millwall, Burnley and Reading in the past 10 days, scoring six without conceding. They have climbed into 15th in the Sky Bet Championship table, on 29 points.

Bolton are in 18th on 26 points. The Trotters haven't lost at home to Boro in 12 games, since a 1-0 defeat in April 1987, almost 27 years ago.

Brighton and Hove Albion v Bournemouth

Brighton and Hove Albion and Bournemouth face each other for the 101st time, at the Amex Stadium on New Year's Day.

A win for the Seagulls would level their head-to-head record at 37 wins each, with 27 draws, and the teams enter the match in identical runs of form, having won three, drawn once and lost once in their last five. Oscar Garcia's side beat Blackpool on Sunday, while Eddie Howe saw his team draw against Ipswich Town.

Wednesday's hosts have the 15th best home form, and the Cherries have the 15th best away record, but they have also conceded the second most on their travels in the division.

Burnley v Huddersfield Town

Burnley have slipped outside the automatic promotion places for the first time since the middle of September, and are at home to Huddersfield Town on New Year's Day.

Derby County pipped the Clarets to second place on Sunday, as Sean Dyche's men were held by Wigan Athletic. The Turf Moor club have only won twice in 10 games, picking up 12 points in that time.

Huddersfield are 11th, on 31 points, after a win and two draws in their past three. Their previous trio of games against Burnley have yielded a hat-trick of wins, including a 2-1 triumph earlier this campaign.

Martin Paterson celebrates scoring in Huddersfield's 5-1 trouncing of Yeovil last time out

Derby County v Wigan Athletic

After moving above Burnley into second, Derby County now have their sights set on top spot, and entertain Wigan Athletic on the first day of 2014.

A 2-1 win at Barnsley on Sunday made it 32 points out of 39 under Steve McClaren, which has launched the Rams from 14th into the top two. On 44 points, they now trail East Midlands rivals Leicester City by just four.

14th-placed Wigan Athletic are also enjoying a fresh lease of life under new management - Uwe Rosley is unbeaten in his four matches as Latics boss, with two wins followed up by two goalless draws.

Ipswich Town v Charlton Athletic

A seven-game unbeaten run has propelled Ipswich Town into a Play-Off place for the first time this season, and begin life in the top six by hosting Charlton Athletic.

A 1-1 draw at Bournemouth, coupled with Leeds United losing at Nottingham Forest, pushed the Tractor Boys into sixth position. That was Mick McCarthy's side's eighth away game without defeat, and extended their unbeaten run to seven.

The Addicks are 19th. Two draws and a win in their past three has seen them rise four points clear of the danger zone.

Leeds United v Blackburn Rovers

Leeds United have won six of their 11 home games and host a Blackburn Rovers side who have only managed two victories on the road this term.

United's solid home form has contributed to them sitting on the fringe of the Play-Offs, although they haven't won in three and were defeated 2-1 by Nottingham Forest last time out.

Rovers were also on the end of a loss on Sunday, 3-2 to Birmingham City, and sit 12th going into 2014. They are unbeaten against Leeds since April 2004.

Millwall v Leicester City

Neil Harris and Scott Fitzgerald remain in caretaker charge of 20th-placed Millwall and they host table-toppers Leicester City on New Year's Day.

The duo's first game in temporary charge, and the club's final game of 2013, brought a 0-0 draw at fellow strugglers Doncaster Rovers, and they are now three points above the bottom three.

The Foxes enter 2014 top of the pile and with momentum after three wins on the spin. They overcame the Lions 3-0 in November.

Queens Park Rangers v Doncaster Rovers

Doncaster Rovers' next assignment after that goalless draw with Millwall is a trip to Queens Park Rangers, who have dropped to fourth.

Rovers are two points above the drop zone and haven't won for six matches, losing four of those. They've only triumphed once away from home, while Rangers have lost just once at Loftus Road.

Rangers' lack of cutting edge in front of goal has been their main problem in recent weeks - they are without a goal in three matches, losing two and drawing one of those games.

Reading v Nottingham Forest

Reading have lost three on the spin and welcome a Nottingham Forest side who are unbeaten in six outings to the Madejski Stadium.

The Royals have been defeated by Wigan Athletic, Leicester City and, most recently, Middlesbrough, to plummet to ninth. They remain only a point off the top six, however, and beat Forest 3-2 in late November at the City Ground.

That loss to the Royals was Forest's most recent reverse. They've picked up 12 points since and that has seen them rise to fifth, firmly in the Play-Off mix.

Sheffield Wednesday v Blackpool

Sheffield Wednesday remain in the bottom three and entertain struggling Blackpool.

The Owls are on 19 points, two adrift of safety, and have picked up two points from their last two games, while the Seasiders have lost five of their last six, including last time out against Brighton.

Blackpool haven't lost to Wednesday since February 2010 and Stuart Gray's men possess the second-worst home record with only two victories from 10.

Yeovil Town v Watford

Watford travel to Huish Park to meet Yeovil Town in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

The two clashed for the first time ever in late November and the Glovers pulled off a shock by triumphing 3-0 at Vicarage Road. Gary Johnson's men have won just once since, and have lost their most recent three.

The Hornets will certainly be out to make amends for that result and they've started collecting points under new boss Giuseppe Sannino with a 4-0 win against Millwall being sandwiched between two draws.

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