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Match Previews

Preview: Matchday 23

22 December 2017

There’s no let up in the EFL action over the festive period, with two days of action to come on Matchday 23. Here’s the preview…

Rockin’ Robins

After spectacularly knocking Manchester United out of the Carabao Cup during the week, Bristol City head to Queens Park Rangers this Saturday with a fifth successive Sky Bet Championship victory in sight.

Lee Johnson’s side currently sit third in the standings; just four points adrift of Cardiff City, who occupy the second automatic promotion spot.

The Hoops were triumphant in their last encounter away at Birmingham City, so Ian Holloway will be aiming to knock the Robins off their perch and put together a winning streak of their own.

Review: Carabao Cup Round Five

McCarthy’s Molineux meeting

It’s a return to Molineux for former Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Mick McCarthy this weekend, when he takes Ipswich Town to the home of the Championship leaders.

The Tractor Boys have picked up three wins out of their previous four league fixtures, but they face a Wolves outfit who’ve not lost since the end of October.

If you’re going off recent history, this encounter promises to be a tight one, with the last five meetings between the two all ending level.

Around the grounds

The first match of the weekend sees Brentford travel to Norwich City on Friday night — just one point separates the sides in the table at present.

At the Macron Stadium, the previously mentioned Cardiff face a Bolton Wanderers team that sit 23rd, but the Trotters are only two points and two places off Sunderland in 21st. Incidentally, the Black Cats play host to Birmingham in a battle between two Championship strugglers.

There’s a Yorkshire derby at Elland Road, where Leeds United play host to Hull City. The Whites are on the fringes of the play-off places at present, while the Tigers are just three points above the relegation zone.

Saturday’s evening entertainment comes from Villa Park, where Aston Villa take on Sheffield United in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

Sky Bet Championship: Matchday 23 fixtures (3pm kick-off unless stated)

Friday 22nd December 2017

Norwich City v Brentford (7:45pm)

Saturday 23rd December 2017

Aston Villa v Sheffield United (5:30pm - live on Sky Sports)

Bolton Wanderers v Cardiff City
Derby County v Millwall
Fulham v Barnsley
Leeds United v Hull City
Preston North End v Nottingham Forest
Queens Park Rangers v Bristol City
Reading v Burton Albion
Sheffield Wednesday v Middlesbrough
Sunderland v Birmingham City
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Ipswich Town

Appointments: Click here to see the officials on weekend duty

Friday night lights

Fleetwood Town and Gillingham get Matchday 23 in Sky Bet League One under way at Highbury Stadium.

Uwe Rosler last witnessed his men earn a league win in October and, despite cup triumphs of late, three points will be his primary short-term objective. They seemed destined for victory last Sunday before a late collapse against Peterborough United.

The Gills, on the other hand, have reason to be optimistic, having lost just once in their last seven fixtures in League One — Mark Byrne’s volley in last weekend’s 4-1 win among the recent highlights on the pitch.

Pompey playing up

With 15 points from a possible 18 of late, Portsmouth are one of the form sides in the division, and next up for them is a trip to second-placed Shrewsbury Town.

The Shrews got back on track with a 1-0 win over Blackpool last time out, ensuring they remain within touching distance of league leaders Wigan Athletic.

Kenny Jackett’s men could climb into the top six this weekend. However, their opponents have won both home games against Pompey since moving to the New Meadow.

Around the grounds

Wigan will be aiming to preserve their healthy advantage at the summit, but they make the trip to an Oxford United team who are only four points away from the play-offs.

An in-form and free-scoring Blackburn Rovers are also on the road. Their clash with Northampton Town gets under way slightly earlier than the rest, with proceedings commencing at 2pm.

Charlton Athletic have suffered a recent dip in terms of accumulation of points, but they have a chance to arrest that mini-slide when Blackpool visit the Valley on the back of three straight losses.

Stuart McCall’s Bradford City have won their last four on the road, and the Bantams’ next away assignment comes in the shape of AFC Wimbledon this weekend.

Sky Bet League One: Matchday 23 fixtures (3pm kick-off unless stated)

Friday 22nd December 2017

Fleetwood Town v Gillingham (7pm)

Saturday 23rd December 2017

AFC Wimbledon v Bradford City
Bristol Rovers v Doncaster Rovers
Charlton Athletic v Blackpool
Northampton Town v Blackburn Rovers (2pm)
Oxford United v Wigan Athletic
Peterborough United v Bury
Plymouth Argyle v Oldham Athletic
Rochdale v Walsall
Rotherham United v Milton Keynes Dons
Scunthorpe United v Southend United
Shrewsbury Town v Portsmouth

Appointments: Click here to see the officials on weekend duty

In-form Imps

There’s an intriguing encounter in store at Rodney Parade, as Newport County welcome Lincoln City to South Wales.

The visitors’ recent performances and results have seen them rise to sixth in the standings and, with just a further three points separating them and the automatic promotion spots, the motivation is there to turn in a winning display once again.

It’s the first meeting between the two in the EFL, although Newport County boast three wins to the Imps’ one from their time in the National League.

Mariners momentum

After taking a point at high-flying Notts County on Matchday 22, Grimsby Town visit the side sitting at the top of the Sky Bet League Two, Luton Town.

Grimsby are a team on good form, and prior to that draw last weekend, Russell Slade’s men had won three matches on the spin.

However, the Hatters are strong on home turf, having lost only twice at Kenilworth Road in the league this season.

Around the grounds

Two sides in the play-off places go head-to-head on Friday night, when Coventry City and Wycombe Wanderers meet at the Ricoh Arena.

Should the Chairboys prevail in that fixture, they’d move up to third ahead of Saturday’s action, meaning Exeter City would have to beat Yeovil Town away from home to reclaim that position.

Forest Green Rovers and Carlisle United clash for the first time in the EFL, with the hosts looking to move off the bottom of the table once more.

Another club in the running to climb into the top three are Accrington Stanley and, depending on other results, victory over Crawley Town potentially could elevate them up two places.

Sky Bet League Two: Matchday 23 fixtures (3pm kick-off unless stated)

Friday 22nd December 2017

Coventry City v Wycombe Wanderers (7:45pm)

Saturday 23rd December 2017

Accrington Stanley v Crawley Town
Barnet v Cheltenham Town
Colchester United v Port Vale
Crewe Alexandra v Swindon Town
Forest Green Rovers v Carlisle United
Luton Town v Grimsby Town
Mansfield Town v Morecambe
Newport County v Lincoln City
Notts County v Cambridge United
Stevenage v Chesterfield
Yeovil Town v Exeter City

Appointments: Click here to see the officials on weekend duty

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