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Match Previews

Preview: Matchday 26

31 December 2017

Happy New Year! The EFL brings you a packed schedule of fixtures to kick 2018 off in style - here's the preview...

Top-six showdown

Second plays sixth on Monday afternoon when the in-form Derby County host Sheffield United. The Rams are unbeaten in their last six fixtures, winning five, whereas Chris Wilder's side have only won one of their previous seven. 

Three points for Gary Rowett's side would consolidate their place in the automatic promotion spots, but the Blades, under heavy pressure from the Play-Off chasing back know three points are needed to keep them at arms length. 

The two sides have met at Pride Park twice since 2009 - the Blades won both fixtures 1-0. 

Managerless Forest live on Sky

The day's live televised action comes from Elland Road at 3pm. Nottingham Forest travel to Yorkshire as they begin life without Mark Warburton after the manager was relieved of his duties on New Year's Eve. 

The sacking followed a run of only two victories in nine games. Leeds on the other hand, have been in a rich vein of form, winning four on the bounce before falling to defeat against Birmingham City on Matchday 25. 

Around the grounds

Just two points separate Bolton Wanderers and Hull City in the standings, and they meet at the Macron Stadium. Hull, now under the stewardship of Nigel Adkins, are without a win in four league outings - a run of form that needs to change heading into this vital fixture. 

Neil Warnock returns to one of his former clubs on New Year's Day, he takes his Cardiff City side to QPR. Despite sitting at opposite ends of the Championship table, both sides come into the fixture off the back of a defeat, QPR were beaten by Millwall, and Cardiff by Preston North End.

Sky Bet Championship: Matchday 26 fixtures (3pm kick-off unless stated)

Monday 1st January 2018

Bolton Wanderers v Hull City
Derby County v Sheffield United
Leeds United v Nottingham Forest (live on Sky Sports)
Norwich City v Millwall
Preston North End v Middlesbrough
Queens Park Rangers v Cardiff City
Sheffield Wednesday v Burton Albion
Sunderland v Barnsley
Aston Villa v Bristol City (5:30pm)

Prime sides face off

Two of the division's form outfits go head-to-head on Matchday 26 with Blackburn Rovers travelling to Rotherham United. 

The Millers are unbeaten in five, a run which includes four victories. While Rovers' run stretches back a little further... 

Tony Mowbray's side are 13 league fixtures without defeat, a hot-streak that stretches back to 17th October. 

The reverse of this fixture was played back in September, and the men from Ewood Park ran out 2-0 winners. 

The dreaded five

Bury sit bottom of the pile in League One, and are 11 points from safety. They've also lost four EFL fixtures in a row, and are staring down the barrel at a fifth with their trip to fourth-placed Scunthorpe United. 

The Iron are unbeaten their previous four, and have fired in 10 goals across that quartet of games. In the same period, the Shakers haven't found the net, and have conceded eight. 

Around the grounds

Wigan Athletic remain the League One leaders, and they travel to the struggling Northampton Town. The Latics face a tough test though, as the Cobblers will be looking to avenge the controversial loss in the reverse fixture. 

Fleetwood Town have won their last two fixtures, but face a tough task if they are to make it three. They welcome Bradford City to Highbury Stadium, with the Bantams flying high after returning to winning ways on Matchday 25. 

Elsewhere, Plymouth Argyle can keep up pull away from the danger zone, when they host Walsall. The Pilgrims are unbeaten in five, and face a Saddlers team struggling for form. 

Sky Bet League One: Matchday 26 fixtures (all 3pm kick-off)

Monday 1st January 2018

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

Meeting of the U’s

The form of both Colchester United and Cambridge United heading into their clash at the Weston Homes Community Stadium is strong.

Colchester have won the last three out of five, while the visitors’ run has seen them pick up a draw with high-flying Notts County, ahead of successive wins against Barnet and Crewe Alexandra respectively.

Uche Ikpeazu settled matters for Shaun Derry’s side when the two faced off at the Cambs Glass Stadium back in September.

Top three occupants do battle

Luton Town suffered a surprising 4-0 defeat at the hands of Port Vale last time out, and their next test comes in the shape of an in-form Lincoln City team.

The Imps are eight points behind the Hatters at present but, should they triumph on New Year’s Day, that gap wouldn’t look so big.

Both sides are not shy in front of goal, but the reverse fixture at Sincil Bank was in fact a goalless draw.

Around the grounds

After dispatching the aforementioned Luton, Port Vale will have their sights set on another scalp, as Neil Aspin and his players travel to Notts County.

Mansfield Town, who sit outside of the top seven on goal difference, host Carlisle United at the One Call Stadium.

Accrington Stanley brought a four-game losing streak to an end in emphatic fashion against Grimsby Town on Saturday — next up for them is a home encounter with Morecambe.

Sky Bet League Two: Matchday 26 fixtures (all 3pm kick-off)

Monday 1st January 2018

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

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