We look ahead to the weekend action in the Sky Bet Championship.Friday 19th December 2014
Millwall v Bolton Wanderers - 7.45pm – live on Sky Sports
The Lions (20th – 23 points): Secured just their second victory in 16 Sky Bet Championship outings last Friday night with a 1-0 win away to Brighton & Hove Albion, a result that gave them a little breathing space above the relegation zone. Their record at The Den this season is among the worst in the divisional home table, as they’ve notched just three wins and lost four times.
The Trotters (18th – 23 points): Are now unbeaten in six following their stalemate with the high-flying Ipswich Town last weekend. Neil Lennon has a striker issue on his hands, though, with Joe Mason and Max Clayton ruled out for several months, and Jermaine Beckford on loan at Preston North End, meaning Eidur Gudjohnsen could make his first start back with the club.
Guaranteed goals: There has never been a goalless draw between these two sides in a league meeting.
Saturday 20th December 2014
Blackburn Rovers v Charlton Athletic
Rovers (8th – 31 points): A 3-1 loss at the hands of Brentford last Saturday means its back-to-back defeats for Blackburn, who had the chance to break into the Play-Off places. They’ll be confident ahead of the visit of Charlton though, having won five of their 10 matches at Ewood Park this term, losing only twice.
The Addicks (10th 30 points): Also possess a strong home record this campaign with just one loss at The Valley, but they were unable to dispatch bottom of the league Blackpool there last time out, drawing 2-2. Their run on the road hasn’t been bad either - they’ve lost just twice - and their overall three defeats in the league is the best figure in the division.
Home, not so sweet home: The last eight fixtures between these sides has produced five away victories, including the last three, with both recording just one win in front of their home support.
Blackpool v Bournemouth
The Tangerines (24th – 13 points): The 2-2 draw at Charlton was the latest in a positive run of results for Blackpool, who have avoided defeat in five of their seven games since Lee Clark took over as manager. Only one of those fixtures has seen them take all three points, and they remain eight off safety.
The Cherries (1st – 39 points): A 5-3 demolition of Cardiff City a week ago saw Eddie Howe’s men move to the summit of the Championship for the first time this season. Their 3-1 defeat to Liverpool in the Capital One Cup in midweek was their first defeat since September, so they have momentum.
Top versus bottom: Bournemouth travel to the Seaside having lost just one of their last 13 games, while Blackpool possess just a third of the Cherries' points tally, with only two wins to their name.
Cardiff City v Brentford
The Bluebirds (11th – points): That 5-3 defeat at the Goldsands Stadium was Cardiff’s first defeat in four showings, but it meant they failed to build momentum on their first away victory of the season at Watford a fortnight ago. Midfielder Ravel Morrison has returned to parent club West Ham United this week, ending his loan spell early due to personal circumstances.
The Bees (5th – 37 points): Returned to winning ways against Blackburn Rovers at Griffin Park last week, successfully recovering from the 2-1 loss to Huddersfield seven days earlier. It’s now six wins in seven matches for Mark Warburton’s men, who are four points clear of seventh-placed Norwich in the Play-Off places.
Two to win: The last three fixtures between these two clubs has seen two goals win it for the respective side, with Cardiff twice triumphing 2-0 and Brentford 2-1 over a decade ago.
Derby County v Norwich City – 12.15pm – live on Sky Sports
The Rams (3rd – 38 points): Surrendered the lead of the Sky Bet Championship following their 2-0 loss to Middlesbrough last Saturday lunchtime, and they've now been demoted to third after other results went against them. On-loan Stoke defender Ryan Shotton gave away a penalty in that game, and won’t be available this time around.
The Canaries (7th – 33 points): Look to have regained some momentum after their 5-0 thrashing of Huddersfield at Carrow Road made it back-to-back wins for the first time since early September. Despite an inconsistent few months since then, they could close the gap on Derby to just two points this weekend.
Double trouble: The last time these two sides were in the Championship together, it was Norwich who recorded the double over the Rams, winning 2-1 and 3-2 on their way to promotion in the 2010/11 season.
Fulham v Sheffield Wednesday
The Cottagers (14th – 25 points): Bounced back from their 5-0 humiliation by Watford two weeks ago by edging out Leeds United at Elland Road last time around. They’ve lost just two of their previous 10 games, and are a far cry from the form that threatened relegation in the early part of the season, sitting 14th in the table.
The Owls (13th – 28 points): Failed to make it three straight wins after falling to Wolves at the weekend. Returning to the road will not phase Wednesday though, as they have the third best away record this term behind the top two, Bournemouth and Middlesbrough.
Tight affair: The last 12 clashes between these two sides has not seen a win by more than a single goal, with eight meetings being decided by a solitary strike, and the other four ending in score draws.
Nottingham Forest v Leeds United – 5.15pm kick-off – live on Sky Sports
Forest (9th – 30 points): Shared the spoils with Rotherham in their last league fixture, meaning they’ve only collected two points from their most recent nine. Stuart Pearce’s men could be handed a boost when the transfer window reopens again in a few weeks, after the club saw its name pulled out of the draw to win the Sky Bet Transfer Fund of £250,000 on Tuesday.
The Whites (19th – 23 points): Were denied on several occasions by Fulham stopper Gabor Kiraly last Saturday when they fell 1-0 to the Cottagers at Elland Road. The defeat was their second in a row, and they’re back on the road this weekend with the unwanted record of the worst away form in the league this season, having won just once and conceded 22 goals on their travels.
Goals galore: The last seven meetings between these teams have produced a whopping 33 goals, at an average of just under five a game.
Huddersfield Town v Birmingham City
The Terriers (17th – 24 points): Were on the receiving end of a 5-0 rout in East Anglia last weekend, as Norwich City swept Chris Powell’s men away in style. They had overcome Brentford 2-1 prior to that thumping to end a four-game winless streak, but have still lost four of their last six Championship games.
The Blues (15th – 25 points): On the contrary, Birmingham handed out a bruising defeat of their own, storming to a 6-1 win over Reading at St Andrews. The victory means they have now surpassed their points tally at home for the whole of last season, and have an exciting prospect in 18-year-old Demarai Gray hitting form, after he scored a first half hat-trick against the Royals last Saturday.
Away advantage: Four of the last five league meetings between these two have seen the away side take all three points, with the only other result ending in a draw.
Ipswich Town v Middlesbrough
The Tractor Boys (4th – 38 points): Missed the opportunity to sit top of the pile in the Sky Bet Championship last weekend, following their goalless stalemate at home to Bolton. The result did extend their unbeaten run to eight games though, and they’ll be confident heading back to Portman Road knowing only Brentford have a better home record than them in the league.
Boro (2nd – 39 points): Took full advantage and, albeit temporarily, they moved to the top of the table. Aitor Karanka's men were soon replaced at the summit by Bournemouth, but the 2-0 win over Derby ensures they still remain among the automatic promotion places, and they're now eight games unbeaten.
Reading v Watford
The Royals (16th – 25 points): Their 6-1 loss at the hands of Birmingham last time out made it three defeats in the last five games for Reading, and signalled the end of Nigel Adkins’ reign as manager. The club were quick to line up his replacement, bringing in former West Bromwich Albion boss Steve Clarke to steady the ship.
The Hornets (6th – 35 points): After a miserable November that saw Watford lose four consecutive matches, they have posted two wins in as many games in the first half of December. A 5-0 thrashing of Fulham was followed by a late win over Wigan Athletic a week ago, as top scorer Troy Deeney grabbed his eighth and ninth goals of the season to earn the points.
All-square: The head-to-head record between Reading and Watford reads 44 wins apiece.
Wigan Athletic v Rotherham United
The Latics (23rd – 17 points): That defeat to Watford was the third on the bounce for Wigan, who sit four points adrift of safety. Malky Mackay is yet to register a win since taking charge last month, and his side have taken just one point from 12 available during his difficult start.
The Millers (21st – 21 points): A 0-0 draw with Nottingham Forest took Rotherham’s winless streak to nine games, a record that sees them flirting with the relegation places. Goals have been a huge problem for Steve Evans’ side this season - they’ve hit the back of the net only once in their last seven outings.
Two-goal triumphs: Four of the last five fixtures involving these two sides has seen the winners take maximum points by scoring twice.
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Brighton & Hove Albion
Wolves (12th - 30 points): Finally saw their dismal run of five successive defeats come to an end last weekend, when substitute Leon Clarke scored a late winner to see them edge past Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough. They have conceded the most goals in the top half of the division (31) and shipped 16 in their last five prior to Saturday’s crucial victory.
The Seagulls (22nd – 18 points): Were turned over by Millwall in last week’s Friday night game, which was their third defeat in as many matches. They’ve also scored just once in that time, and their run now reads one win in their 16 most recent league clashes, with the last coming at the beginning of November courtesy of a 1-0 triumph over Wigan.
All games are 3pm kick-off unless stated.