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Matchday 28: Sky Bet Championship preview

Nottingham Forest legend Martin O'Neill takes charge of his first game for the club on Saturday, but will he kick it off with a victory?

18 January 2019

Friday nights under the lights

Norwich City and Birmingham City will kick off matchday 28 in the Sky Bet Championship on Friday evening, in front of the Sky Sports cameras. 

Daniel Farke’s side currently sit third in the table, level on points with Sheffield United and four points behind league leaders Leeds United.

The Canaries are unbeaten in their last six home games against the Blues, winning four and drawing two.

The last time these two sides met on a Friday night was back in 2002 which, coincidentally, was the last time Birmingham beat Norwich at Carrow Road.

New manager bounce for Forest?

Forest legend Martin O’Neill takes charge of his first game for the side where he won two European Cups and numerous other trophies during his time as a player.

He will be looking to turn their fortunes around quite quickly as they have only won one of their last eight games in all competitions, their last win coming over top-of-the-table side Leeds United on New Year’s Day.

Bristol City are their opponents at the weekend, who have only won two of their last 27 visits to the City Ground in all competitions, but they are only two points off the final Play-Off place, which is currently occupied by Derby County.

Tough task for Stoke City

Nathan Jones is still looking for his first win as Stoke City boss after two games in charge, but he will have to overcome a resolute Leeds side on Saturday afternoon.

This is the first league meeting between the two sides at the bet365 Stadium since December 2006, when Stoke were victorious by three goals to one.

Leeds were comfortable winners last time out, seeing off Derby County 2-1 at Elland Road; Marcelo Bielsa’s side have won 16 games Championship games this season, that’s one less than they managed in the entirety of last season.

Baggies to hunt down the leading pack?

In the last game of the upcoming weekend, West Bromwich Albion travel to Lancashire to take on Bolton Wanderers, which could have significant impact at both ends of the table.

Depending on results over the weekend, a win for West Brom could see them catch second and third-placed Norwich and Sheffield United. Meanwhile, a win for the Wanderers could see them move out of the relegation zone.

West Brom striker Dwight Gayle has scored 14 goals from his last 17 shots on target in the Championship.

Around the grounds

Hot on Leeds’ tail are Sheffield United - Chris Wilder’s side are currently four points behind the league leaders and, with a win over Swansea City, could reduce the deficit to only one point if Bielsa’s side drop points against Stoke.

Fifth and sixth-placed Middlesbrough and Derby face Millwall and Reading respectively, as they both continue their pursuit of the teams above them.

Bottom-of-the-table Ipswich Town travel to Blackburn Rovers, looking to claim a victory which would help towards their fight against relegation from the Championship. The Tractor Boys are unbeaten in their last four league games against Rovers.

Paul Warne’s Rotherham United host Brentford, looking to put some distance between themselves and the relegation zone; meanwhile, Wigan Athletic make the trip across the Peninnes to take on Sheffield Wednesday.

Elsewhere, Queens Park Rangers entertain Preston North End and Aston Villa host Hull City. The Villians will be looking to extend their unbeaten record at home in all competitions against the Tigers to 13, with the visitors last tasting victory back in 1967.

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