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Matchday 22: Sky Bet Championship preview

13 December 2018

The soap opera that is the Sky Bet Championship is back again this weekend with another full round of fixtures that will keep you on the edge of your seat

Will Blades blunt the Baggies promotion hopes? 

Darren Moore’s West Bromwich Albion side travel to Sheffield United in Friday’s live Sky Sports game under the lights, hoping for their first win at Bramall Lane in 14 years. If they do so, the Baggies will record three straight wins on the road in the league for the first time in over a decade. 


The Blades have been strong on their own patch this season though and defeat against Leeds United a fortnight ago was the first defeat there all season. After bouncing back last time out against Reading, they sit in 3rd place with Albion just a point behind. 


Make sure to tune in to Sky Sports Football tomorrow night from 7.45pm to catch what should be a cracking opening game of the weekend. 


Monday magic in the East Midlands Derby?

While the opening match of the weekend looks good on paper, the East Midlands derby at Pride Park is one to get the popcorn ready for! Derby County and Nottingham Forest will battle it out in the 93rd league match between the two sides as they both look to put the pressure on the sides chasing promotion. 


Derby’s 1-0 victory at Wigan Athletic last week was the first time the Rams had kept a clean sheet in 14 matches but the three vital points saw them climb to 4th in the table. A surprise defeat for Forest at home to Preston meant the Reds fell out of the top six but they could go back above their rivals with a win on Monday night – such is how tight the top of the Sky Bet Championship is. 


Can Boro keep away-form going against McClaren’s QPR? 

Steve McClaren welcomes his former club Middlesbrough to Loftus Road hoping to end a run of three defeats in a row when he’s faced Boro since he left. 


The visitors are unbeaten on the road in their last six league games but face a QPR side who have won three of the last four league games, despite a defeat last time out against Hull City. 


Boro, meanwhile, have only taken a point from their last two games and will be hoping to get back to winning ways to keep the pressure on the leading pack. 


Preston to keep home form in tact? 


Alex Neil’s Preston North End side entertain Milwall at Deepdale on Saturday hoping to beat the Lions for the first time in their last five meetings. Preston haven’t lost at home since September and in three of the games since, have been in excellent form, scoring four goals. 


The visitors remain in trouble at the bottom of the table and despite an encouraging performance against Hull City last week, they sit just a point outside the relegation zone and without a win in six league games. 


Villa look to keep unbeaten run going against Stoke 


Dean Smith’s Aston Villa side were minutes away from winning again last time out against West Brom but they face a Stoke City side on Saturday who are unbeaten in their last six visits to Villa Park. 


Villa have only lost once at home all season, on 1 Sept, while Gary Rowett’s men have improved of late and like their hosts, also haven’t lost a league game away from home since the first day of September. 


But facing a Villa side unbeaten in their last six games, will they keep their impressive away run going here? 


Top two both to win away? 


Both Norwich City and Leeds United face visits to Bristol City and Bolton Wanderers this weekend as the top two look to maintain their run at the top of the table. 


The Canaries continue to fly high in top spot and have lost just one game in their last 16. Their star man this season is Teemu Pukki, who is in a red hot streak of form and he scored his fifth goal in six games when he scored their injury time winner against Bolton last time out. 


Leeds meanwhile have won the last four matches on the spin – they haven’t won five in a row for nine years, last doing so in League Two in 2009. While their opponents on Saturday, Bolton Wanderers, have only managed to pick up three points in their last 11 games. 


Around the grounds


Sheffield Wednesday haven’t scored a single goal in their last five matches against Swansea City in all competitions and they travel to the Liberty Stadium tomorrow hoping for just their second win in ten games. 


Reading have won just one of their last 18 league away games and are winless on the road since a 3-2 victory against Preston in September. They face Rotherham United this weekend who are struggling for form themselves and without a win in five games. 


Blackburn Rovers have lost just one of their last 23 home games against Birmingham City and will hope to continue that impressive run at Ewood Park, having been very strong at home this season, only losing once. 


Elsewhere, Hull City will be looking to score for the first time in their last three games at home against Brentford – who have only won one match in their last 14 outings. While Ipswich Town are still hunting for their first victory under manager Paul Lambert as the bottom side welcome Wigan Athletic to Portman Road. 



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