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Match Previews

Sky Bet Championship weekend preview

21 November 2014

We look ahead to the weekend action in the Sky Bet Championship.

Friday 21st November 2014

Brentford v Fulham – 7.45pm kick-off – live on Sky Sports

The Bees (6th – 28 points):  Victory away to Millwall last time out was Brentford’s third win in as many games, and that has lifted them into the Play-Off positions in the Sky Bet Championship. Tony Craig recently penned a new deal and midfielder Jonathan Douglas is available again following suspension.

The Cottagers (17th – 19 points): A 3-1 win over Huddersfield a fortnight ago means Fulham are now undefeated in their last six league games. Defenders Fernando Amorebieta and Tim Hoogland could return from spells on the sidelines tonight, but goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli may miss out due to a thumb injury.

Go west: These two sides from the capital will battle it out for the 48th time in all competitions, and the Bees will look to celebrate their 125th anniversary by ending a five-game winless streak against their West London rivals, dating back to 1992.

Cardiff City v Reading – 7.45pm kick-off

The Bluebirds (12th – 23 points): A stalemate against Birmingham in their last fixture means Cardiff’s wait for an away win this season continues. Despite their struggles on the road, Russell Slade has been pleased with his side’s home form, and has spoken about wanting to build a winning mentality at the Welsh club.

The Royals (14th – 21 points): A 1-0 loss to Charlton two weeks ago has seen Reading alternate between defeats and victories in their last five matches. Midfielder Garath McCleary and defender Shaun Cummings are fit again following lengthy lay-offs, but Hope Akpan has been ruled out for three months after dislocating his shoulder whilst playing for Nigeria.

Double trouble: The last time this pair met was back in 2011/12, when Cardiff earned all six points over Reading. A 2-1 win at the Madejski Stadium was followed up with a 3-1 win in Wales.

Saturday 22nd November 2014

Blackburn Rovers v Leeds United

Rovers (7th – 27 points): Following an indifferent start in the Championship this season, Blackburn have put a run of results together of late, meaning they sit just one point outside the Play-Off positions. They could already occupy one of the top six spaces, but a 1-1 draw with Brighton last time out halted their surge.

The Whites (15th – 20 points): A 3-1 win over Blackpool in their last run out was their first victory in nine attempts, following a difficult period under former boss Darko Milanic. New boss Neil Redfearn will be looking to boost his side's away form, having picked up just the one win on the road this campaign, losing five times.

Blackpool v Bolton Wanderers

The Tangerines (24th – 7 points): That loss to Leeds in their most recent outing means it’s now five defeats in their last six, and just one point from 18 for the Seasiders. They sit a worrying 10 points from safety, but have signed former Manchester United winger Chris Eagles on a short-term deal to improve their threat in front of goal.

The Trotters (21st – 17 points): Back-to-back wins over Cardiff and Wigan in recent times have seen Bolton break clear of the relegation zone. New manager Neil Lennon’s impact at the club has been very positive, with his side picking up 12 points from a possible 18 since his arrival.

Home advantage: Despite only being separated by 40 miles, the away side hasn’t come out on top in this fixture since March 1986, when Blackpool won 3-1 at Bolton's former home, Burnden Park.

Bournemouth v Ipswich Town

The Cherries (2nd – 31 points): Bournemouth’s run of six straight wins came to an end against Middlesbrough last time out, but the 0-0 draw still means they are unbeaten in the league since September. Eddie Howe’s men have been rampant in front of goal this term, and boast the joint-best scoring record in the division, finding the net 33 times.

The Tractor Boys (4th – 30 points): Have well and truly diminished their winless October month with three straight triumphs during November. The latest of those came against fellow challengers Watford, in a 1-0 win at Portman Road. Midfielder Jonny Williams remains sidelined for another few weeks due to a groin injury.

Making a point: Last season was the first time the two sides had met since the 1996/97 season, and the pair could not be separated over the two games. They battled out a 1-1 draw in Bournemouth, before sharing four goals at Portman Road.

Charlton Athletic v Millwall

The Addicks (8th – 27 points): Beat Reading 1-0 two weeks ago to record their first win in three. Two draws and a loss prior to that has cost them the chance to sit amongst the Play-Off places, but their home record this season remains intact, having gone undefeated at The Valley.

The Lions ( 18th – 18 points): Their dramatic 3-2 defeat to Brentford last time around was their second loss in three matches, a run that has seen them take just a point from their last nine available. Their away record this season does not make for great reading, having picked up just one win on the road.

London calling: The second London derby in the Championship this weekend sees Charlton trying to end a barren spell against their opponents. The Addicks have failed to score in their last five games against the Lions, with their last goals coming in a 4-4 draw in 2009.

Huddersfield Town v Sheffield Wednesday - 12.15pm kick-off - live on Sky Sports

The Terriers (16th – 20 points): Chris Powell’s men have been dealt a harsh reality check in recent weeks, as their seven-game unbeaten streak crashed to back-to-back defeats. Their home form this campaign has been mixed, and reads three wins, three draws and two losses.

The Owls (13th – 21 points): Their 0-0 draw with Rotherham in their last match made it nine games without a win. Despite their poor run, Stuart Gray’s men still sit a respectable 13th, and boast one of the best away records in the division - three of their four league wins this season have come on the road.

Norwich City v Brighton & Hove Albion

The Canaries (10th 26 points): Continued their unpredictable form this term by suffering their second straight loss against Nottingham Forest a fortnight ago. Manager Neil Adams appointed former Manchester United assistant Mike Phelan as his first-team coach this week.

The Seagulls (20th – 17 points): Failed to replicate their victory over Wigan by drawing with Blackburn Rovers in their latest showing. That result was the eighth time this season that they’ve shared the spoils with their opponents. Chairman Tony Bloom publicly supported Sami Hyypia last week, saying he will issue funds for the manager to spend in January.

Battle of the birds: Brighton go into this fixture having only won one of their last nine against the Canaries. That victory came back in 2002 at Carrow Road, but Norwich have won the five encounters since that game.

Rotherham United v Birmingham City

The Millers (19th – 18 points): Five games without a win has seen Rotherham roped into the relegation battle, after they drew a blank against Sheffield Wednesday last time out. Defeat on Saturday would see them fall below their opponents in the table, and they could sit in the bottom three for the first time this season.

The Blues (23rd – 16 points): A 0-0 draw at home to Cardiff was enough to maintain new manager Gary Rowett’s unbeaten start at the club in their last showing. The Birmingham boss has steadied the ship at St. Andrews, and he's now looking to build on the confidence his players have shown since his arrival.

It’s been a while: The last time these two met was during the 2001/02 season, when both games finished two goals apiece. Four of the last six meetings have seen the spoils shared, with the other two being won by the Blues, both by two goals to one.

Watford v Derby County

The Hornets (5th – 29 points): Will be looking to halt a run of consecutive defeats, the most recent being a 1-0 reverse at Ipswich, which saw the Tractor Boys leapfrog them into fourth. Almen Abdi and Gabriele Angella have both returned to training since then, giving boss Slavisa Jokanovic a near full-fit squad to choose from.

The Rams (1st – 32 points): Returned to the league’s summit in some style, defeating Wolves 5-0 before the international break. Jack Butland will continue in goal with Lee Grant still injured, but Craig Bryson is available after a hip injury, and Simon Dawkins could feature following his Caribbean Cup triumph with Jamaica.

Ram raid: Derby were at the double against Watford last year, taking all six points in two memorable encounters. A 3-2 win at Vicarage Road preceded a 4-2 win on their own patch, and the last four meetings have produced 20 goals in all.

Wigan Athletic v Middlesbrough

The Latics (22nd – 16 points): Malky Mackay will look to take his new side out of the bottom three, as he makes his home bow at the DW Stadium this weekend. The ex-Cardiff boss has promised his team will be full of passion and commitment as they look for just their fourth win of the campaign.

Boro (3rd – 31 points): A 0-0 draw with Bournemouth last time out extended their unbeaten run to four games. Ben Gibson picked up an ankle injury playing for England Under-21s last week, but it is hoped he will have shaken the knock off in time for this weekend. Kenneth Omerou will miss out, as he returns from international duty with Nigeria.

Tight affair: Since the first meeting between the pair in 1986, which Middlesbrough won 2-0, no fixture has seen the sides separated by more than one goal, with the last three matches ending all-square.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Nottingham Forest

Wolves (9th – 27 points): Are looking to bounce back after their 5-0 thumping by Derby last time out. Scott Golbourne is hopeful of returning, while Lee Evans is available for selection despite nursing a wrist injury. Nouha Dicko picked up a hamstring strain whilst away with Mali, so Danny Graham is expected to make his debut after joining on loan from Sunderland.

Forest (11th – 25 points): Their wretched run of form came to an end in their last Sky Bet Championship fixture, as a late turnaround handed them three points against Norwich City. Danny Fox and Kelvin Wilson both missed the 2-1 victory over the Canaries, but have recovered and could feature this weekend.

Head-to-head: The most contested fixture this weekend is between this pair, who have met 123 times since they first locked horns in 1892. Wolves have the best record, winning 57 times compared to Forest’s 42, with 24 draws thrown in.

All kick-off times are 3pm unless stated.

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