We look ahead to the weekend action in the Sky Bet Championship.Friday 12th December 2014
Brighton & Hove Albion v Millwall – 7.45pm kick-off – live on Sky Sports
The Seagulls (22nd – 18 points): Consecutive draws have been followed by consecutive defeats for Brighton, who conceded three goals in the opening 15 minutes to lose at Derby County last weekend. They've slipped into the Sky Bet Championship drop zone, with only Blackpool having claimed fewer than their three wins.
The Lions (20th – 20 points): Have also won just one of their last 10 league outings, and looked no closer to registering three points against Middlesbrough last week, when they were thumped 5-1 at The Den. Danny Shittu could return to the back line after that poor defensive display against Boro.
Tamed Lions: Millwall haven’t won any of their last six matches against Brighton, with the Seagulls twice coming out on top and four draws being contested.
Saturday 13th December 2014
Birmingham City v Reading
The Blues (19th – 22 points): Lost their first game under the guidance of Gary Rowett last Saturday, falling 1-0 to former manager Lee Clark’s Blackpool. They had won three of their last five prior to that defeat, and could surpass their points gained at St Andrews over the whole of last season this weekend, should they record a victory.
The Royals (14th – 25 points): Failed to back up the win over Norwich by drawing with Bolton in their last fixture to continue their inconsistent form. They have recorded nine points less on the road this season than they have at home, winning just twice away from the Madejski Stadium.
Double trouble: Reading recorded two wins over the struggling Birmingham City last season, winning 2-0 and 2-1.
Bolton Wanderers v Ipswich Town
The Trotters (17th – 22 points): Are now unbeaten in five following that stalemate with Reading, and look to be on the rise again under Neil Lennon. The returning Eidur Gudjohnsen did not feature last weekend despite signing a deal with the club, but could make his first appearance back in the white shirt this time around.
The Tractor Boys (2nd – 37 points): Ipswich’s unrelenting run continued as they thrashed Leeds United 4-1 a week ago, making it five wins from their last six games. They sit just a point behind Derby County in the table, and could top it should the Rams slip up on Saturday and they notch all three points.
Beatable Bolton: Ipswich haven’t lost any of their last four meetings with Bolton, beating the Trotters on three occasions and being held to a draw once.
Bournemouth v Cardiff City
The Cherries (3rd – 36 points): Survived a scare to come from behind and beat 10-man Wolves 2-1 last weekend. The result saw the club return to winning ways after drawing their previous three, and they haven’t lost any of their last 11 games in all competitions - a run that stretches all the way back to September.
The Bluebirds (9th – 30 points): Dropped points at home for the first time under boss Russell Slade in a 0-0 draw with Rotherham last time around. Their away woes now look to be over after they beat Watford at Vicarage Road a fortnight ago, which was their first win on the road this term.
Long time, no see: This is the first time since 2002 that these two sides have met in The Football League, but they’ve clashed four times in cup competitions since then, including this season when Bournemouth prevailed 3-0 in the Capital One Cup.
Brentford v Blackburn Rovers
The Bees (5th – 34 points): Their run of five straight wins was brought to an end last week as they lost 2-1 to Huddersfield. Mark Warburton’s men still sit pretty in the Play-Off places though, and only Ipswich and Cardiff possess better points totals at home this season, thanks to their six wins at Griffin Park so far.
Rovers (7th – 31 points): Like Brentford, Blackburn’s upturn in form was also brought to a halt, as they lost late on to Sheffield Wednesday. That was their only defeat since the beginning of October, and they could jump above their opponents into the top-six at the weekend with a victory by two or more goals.
Reunited: This is the first time since 1980 that these pair will clash in The Football League, but they are no strangers to each other, having met seven times in cup competitions since then.
Charlton Athletic v Blackpool
The Addicks (11th – 29 points): Drew 1-1 with Nottingham Forest in their last game, meaning they’ve taken just one point from their last nine available. Manager Bob Peeters will be glad to return to The Valley this weekend, where they’ve taken 17 of their 29 points this season, and have only lost once.
The Tangerines (24th – 12 points): Three points against former side Birmingham would have been bitter-sweet for Lee Clark last Saturday, but revival is still a long way off despite their second triumph of the campaign. They are also yet to win away from home so far this season - the only side in the division who hold the unwanted feat.
Fortress: Charlton have not lost at home to Blackpool since 1976, with the Tangerines unable to pick up all three points in the seven games since.
Leeds United v Fulham
The Whites (16th – 23 points): Leeds’ last four Championship matches read win, loss, win, loss, and their inconsistencies now see them just five points above Brighton in the highest relegation place. Neil Redfearn will be glad to be heading back to Elland Road, where they have one of the top-six home records in the division this season courtesy of five victories - a stark contrast to their efforts on their travels as they possess the second-worst tally in the table.
The Cottagers (18th – 22 points): Fulham’s record going into this fixture reads identical to their opponents, and they were also heavily beaten last week, 5-0 at home to Watford. Should they revive their form this weekend, they will leapfrog Leeds in the table.
Former glories: This is the first time these two sides have met in over 10 years since they locked horns in the Premier League. It will be their first Football League clash since 1985.
Norwich City v Huddersfield Town
The Canaries (8th – 30 points): Returned to winning ways with a 1-0 victory over Wigan Athletic last time out, which was their first success in five attempts, having lost three of their previous four. Their mixed run of form sees them sit eighth in the table, but like those around them they could end the weekend in the Play-Off places should other results go in their favour.
The Terriers (15th – 24 points): Had also lost three of their last four games prior to last weekend, when they disposed of high-flying Brentford 2-1. Their record this seasons reads won six, drawn six and lost eight, although they have been much improved under Chris Powell, who has recorded five of their six victories since taking charge.
Middlesbrough v Derby County – 12.15pm kick-off – live on Sky Sports
Boro (4th – 36 points): Eased to a 5-1 victory over Millwall after three draws in as many games prior to that. Their stalemates have not affected their push for the automatic promotion places however, and they will take the lead of the Sky Bet Championship for at least a few hours should they beat Derby at the Riverside in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
The Rams (1st – 38 points): Three goals in 15 minutes secured all three points for Derby against Brighton at the iPro Stadium last week as they bounced back from a defeat to Leeds seven days earlier. Two of their goals were scored by striker Chris Martin, who now sits just one behind Ipswich’s Daryl Murphy as the league’s top goalscorer.
Happy home: Middlesbrough have not lost at home to Derby in any of their last eight meetings in the North East and have taken a dominant seven wins from those games.
Rotherham United v Nottingham Forest
The Millers (21st – 20 points): Rotherham’s last victory came almost two months ago now, having failed to record a win in any of their eight games since. Three of those have been defeats, but five of them draws, and last weekend was one of their more impressive ones as they held Cardiff City to a goalless affair in South Wales.
Forest (10th – 29 points): Back-to-back wins last month looked to have revived Nottingham Forest’s form, after a dreadful run of no win in 10 matches in all competitions. But a draw against Charlton last time out, and a defeat to Birmingham before that, has halted them once more, and despite topping the table in the early part of the season, they are now sliding towards the mid-table scrap.
Four in a row? These sides have drawn 1-1 in each of their last three meetings.
Sheffield Wednesday v Wolverhampton Wanderers
The Owls (12th – 28 points): Have well and truly banished their 11-game winless run by posting consecutive victories in recent weeks. Last time around they scuppered the in-form Blackburn Rovers, thanks to an injury-time winner from Claude Dielna. Those two results have left them with a finely balanced goal difference of zero, scoring and conceding 16 times this season.
Wolves (13th - 27 points): Were overtaken by their weekend opponents in the table last Saturday when they were beaten late on by Bournemouth. The defeat was a fifth on the spin for Kenny Jackett’s men, who looked like they could be promotion contenders up until the start of last month, before slipping 13th.
Watford v Wigan Athletic
The Hornets (6th - 32 points): Watford have also lost four in a row in recent weeks, but they ended their dreadful run with a 5-0 thrashing of Fulham last Friday night. Despite their losses over the last month, they still hold one of the best scoring records in the division, netting 36 times in their 20 games so far.
The Latics (23rd – 17 points): On the contrary, Wigan have been shipping goals of late, and have not won a game since they upset Derby at the end of October. New manager Malky Mackay is yet to find that crucial first win since taking over, and he lost out to former side Norwich 1-0 at Carrow Road last weekend.
Undefeated: Watford have never lost to Wigan at Vicarage Road in the seven times that they’ve hosted the Latics.
All games are 3pm kick-off unless stated.