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Matchday 23: Sky Bet Championship preview

20 December 2018

Once again, there's some special matches in store on the final round of games before Christmas

Christmas cracker in store at Villa Park

In the 84 meetings between the two sides, they’ve each won 28 games while there have also been 28 draws. 


Leeds have won their last five in a row – their best run since 2009 – and they’ll be keen to show the rest of the division their title credentials by securing all three points against a strong Aston Villa side. 


But the home side are unbeaten in seven games themselves and are on the cusp of the play-off places. It’s all setup for what should be a cracking encounter, to bring matchday 23 to a close, live on Sky Sports Football this Sunday afternoon.  


Canaries look to get back to winning ways at Blackburn

Norwich City were knocked off their perch last weekend after they failed to take the three points at Bristol City. But they travel to Ewood Park tomorrow to face Blackburn Rovers, hoping to continue their run of nine league matches unbeaten on the road. 


Rovers, however, have only lost once on their own turf all season and will aim to go in to Christmas maintaining that record. But Tony Mowbray’s side have only won one of their last six matches and will have to be at their best to match the promotion chasing Canaries. 


Will QPR win at Forest for the first time in their history?


QPR go in to this fixture with quite an unwanted record. They have never won away at Nottingham Forest in all competitions. It’s the most a team has played away at another ground (34 matches) without ever winning in all competitions in English football.


Their task to take all three points will be even trickier this time as well – Forest have only lost twice on their own patch this season. But they’ll be hopeful striker Nahki Wells can continue his recent form with five goals in his last nine. 


Ipswich look for back to back wins for first time in a year


Sheffield United take on Ipswich Town having only won one of their last 20 league games at Portman Road, with that victory coming eight years ago in May 2010. The Blades though have won the last two away from home going in to this one. 


But Paul Lambert will hope his side’s winning feeling from last week’s victory against Wigan Athletic will have an impact and help spur his team on as they look to overturn an unwanted record of having not won back to back games this season. 


Bees welcome Bolton in battle at the bottom 


It was 1989 when Bolton Wanderers last won at Griffin Park and they go in to this massive game at the bottom without a win in their last 12 matches. 


The home side are in a rut themselves and without a victory in six matches and having won just one of the last ten. Three points for both sides is crucial as they both look to end the year on a high. 


Around the grounds


Tony Pulis will be hoping his Middlesbrough side can bounce back from two straight defeats when Boro take on Reading, after suffering two successive losses - to QPR and Burton Albion in the Carabao Cup. But Pulis’ record isn’t great at the Madjeski Stadium and he’s never won there. Will he break his duck tomorrow? 


West Bromwich Albion always provide a bit of entertainment and they remain the league’s top scorers with 46 goals. They could find it tough when they take on Rotherham United at the New York Stadium, though. The Millers have lost just one of their 11 matches at home this season. 


Frank Lampard will hope his side can re-discover their goalscoring form when Derby County entertain Bristol City at Pride Park. The Rams have failed to hit the back of the net in two of their last three at home and the Robins are enjoying some good form themselves and are unbeaten in their last four league games. 


Elsewhere, Sheffield Wednesday are desperate for a victory to take them in to Christmas as they look for just their second victory in eleven matches. They welcome Preston North End with Alex Neil’s side having won the last two and only losing once in their last 12 matches. 


Stoke City welcome Millwall to the Potteries, with the visitors still looking for their first away win this season. Wigan Athletic welcome Birmingham City to the DW Stadium and will have to be wary of the Blues’ strikeforce - Che Adams and Lukas Jutkiewicz having both netted 10 league goals each this season. 


Hull City welcome Swansea City in Saturday night’s game, live on Sky Sports from 5.30pm. The Swans will hope to improve upon a recent record that has only seen them score on one of their last six visits there. 

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