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Football League Championship Preview

Despite losing two matches in a row, Newcastle still lead the way at the top by a single point.
Despite losing two matches in a row, Newcastle still lead the way at the top by a single point.
The Football League Championship showed just how strange a league it can be last week. Nobody would have seen Fulham crushing reading 5-0 nor could they have predicted that Norwich would smash Brentford by the same margin following five straight defeats. This week’s standout fixtures see Brighton go toe to toe with Leeds United while Derby County aim to bring Nottingham Forest back down to earth after Philippe Montanier’s men handed the Toon their third straight defeat.

Friday 9 December

17/20 Brighton | Draw 47/20 | Leeds 33/10 (21:45)

Brighton were my best bet last week after they were priced up at 14/10 against lowly Cardiff City. The south coast outfit could only come away with a 0-0 draw – the only one of the weekend – against the Welsh side who face an uphill battle to stave off relegation. To make matters worse for the Seagulls, a win would have put them top of the standings as Newcastle slipped up again. Still, Brighton are undefeated in 13 league matches; a record they will want to maintain against Leeds. Leeds’ promotion charge continues to gather momentum. The fallen Yorkshire giants strolled to a 2-0 victory over Aston Villa last Saturday evening. Goals from Kemar Roofe and Chris Wood ensured that Gary Monk and his men climbed into fourth place, in striking distance of Reading in third place. This is such a difficult game to call. Both sides are in excellent touch and pushing for promotion, however, Brighton just shade it for me. Back them if you must, but I’d avoid this game personally.

Saturday 10 December

21/20 Brentford | 24/10 | Burton Albion 51/20 (17:00)

Brentford were absolutely walloped by Norwich at the weekend as they went down 5-0 at Carrow Road. The Bees’ promising start to the season seems all but a distant memory now after four straight defeats in the league. They’re hovering dangerously close to the relegation zone with just three points separating themselves and Cardiff in 22nd. Burton Albion’s solid start to the season continued as they beat Rotherham 2-1 in front of 4446 fans at the Pirelli Stadium. Jackson Irvine and Matty Palmer netted for the Brewers before Tom Adeyemi grabbed a late consolation. Both teams are pretty evenly matched in my opinion. Play it safe and back Both Teams to Score at 15/20.

43/20 Rotherham | 23/10 | QPR 12/10 (17:00)

Managerless, rudderless and winless in 15 games – Rotherham’s season has gone from bad to worse. Their 2-1 defeat at the hands of Burton leaves them 13 points off safety with a literal Everest to climb if they are to survive this season. Their cause wasn’t helped by Kenny Jackett’s resignation after only five games in charge either. Rangers, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, went down 2-1 to Wolves at the weekend. James Perch got himself sent off for two yellow cards in the first half. Wolves duly obliged, grabbing two goals in the second half as Dave Edwards and Holder Costa both scored. Joel Lynch grabbed a late equaliser for Rangers although it turned out to be stark consolation. QPR to win here – bet of the weekend in fact at 12/10.

18/10 Wolves | 23/10 | Fulham 29/20 (17:00)

Wolves picked up a vital three points against QPR at the weekend. The win was Wolves’ first under new manager Paul Lambert who will do well to steer the Black Country club away from relegation come the end of the season. Their task gets tougher as they welcome a Fulham side fresh off a thumping 5-0 win over Reading. Fulham shot down Reading in spectacular fashion this weekend as they knocked five past the hapless Royals. It’s not the first time that Fulham have put five past a side in the top six either. They did the same to Huddersfield Town on 29 October. Fulham should prove too strong for Wolves here despite being away from home. Take the Cottagers at 29/20.

47/20 Barnsley | 49/20 | Norwich 11/10 (17:00)

Barnsley head into their game against Norwich this weekend on a high as they shocked Birmingham City at St. Andrews. Goals from Marc Roberts and Sam Winnall ensured that the Tykes secured an excellent 3-0 over Gary Rowett’s charges. Norwich also recorded a big win last weekend as they put an end to a five-game losing streak by beating Brentford 5-0 at Carrow Road. The win put the Canaries within striking distance of the top six after slipping away in recent weeks. Alex Neil’s men would have put that losing run behind them now. Back them to come good against Barnsley at 11/10.

13/10 Huddersfield | 22/10 | Bristol City 43/20 (17:00)

Huddersfield’s amazing start to the season is all but a distant memory now. A 1-1 draw away to Blackburn saw them lose more ground on the top six as they settle into the relative comforts of mid-table. I doubt that they’ll be able to climb back into the play-off places although they could be serious contenders in the next season or two under the tutelage of David Wagner. Bristol City surprised for all of the right reasons as they breezed past Ipswich Town on Saturday afternoon. The win arrested a run of three straight losses as Lee Johnson’s men climbed to 27 points and 11th on the table. They’re almost within striking distance of the top six, and I think they’ll come away with something from this match. Back Bristol on the win/draw Double Chance at 11/20.

15/10 Ipswich Town | 2/1 | Cardiff 19/10 (17:00)

Ipswich Town were disappointing last time out as their inconsistency came to the fore again. The Tractor Boys have now won six, drawn six and lost seven of their 19 games as they remain firmly rooted in mid-table. They’ve been good at home, only losing twice at Portman Road in 10 games – expect a good performance from Mick McCarthy’s charges. Cardiff played well last week as they held high-flying Brighton to a 0-0 draw. The side have definitely improved since Neill Warnock took over, however, they still remain in the bottom three with only two wins from their last six. Ipswich are a much better team at home than they are away and should be backed as such.

15/20 Aston Villa | 49/20 | Wigan 37/10 (17:00)

Villa were soundly beaten last time out by a dogged Leeds United who are doing everything in their power to climb out of the division. Goals from Kemar Roofe and Chris Wood condemned Villa to their fourth loss of the season. They should be far too strong for Wigan, however. The Latics currently sit second-bottom after their 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Derby County. Unless there’s a serious turn-around at Wigan I simply can’t see them avoiding the drop. Villa will have far too much for Wigan here, back them confidently at 15/10.

9/20 Newcastle | 34/10 | Birmingham 57/10 (17:00)

Newcastle have just started to wobble a bit. Two league defeats were sandwiched by a loss in the League Cup. The Toon only have themselves to blame for their loss against Forest as Jonjo Shelvy and Paul Dummet were dismissed in the first half before Jamaal Lascelles put through his own net to hand Nottingham the points.  Nevertheless, Rafa Benitez and his men still remain at the summit of the Championship and will look to get back to winning ways against a Birmingham side who were disappointingly beaten last time out. That defeat came at St. Andrews against a spirited Barnsley side who took full advantage of David Davis’ 71st minute red card as they cruised to a 3-0 victory. The last thing that Gary Rowett’s side need after such a disappointing defeat is a trip to St. James’ Park. Newcastle should be too good here and should be added to all multiples this weekend at 9/20.

18/10 Reading | 21/10 | Sheffield Wed. 31/20 (17:00)

Nobody would have seen Reading’s 5-0 hammering at the hands of Fulham coming last week. The shock defeat was Reading’s first in in six games as they just maintain their grip on third place. Jap Stam would have torn into his side following the defeat and will demand that they bounce back against Wednesday. The Owls held on to sixth place as they won a fowl-tempered match against Preston North End in Hillsborough. There were red cards for Fernando Forestieri, Jermaine Beckford and Eoin Doyle as Wednesday held on for a 2-1 win against a wasteful Preston side. This is one of those games that could go either way, I‘d have tipped Wednesday if Forestieri wasn’t suspended but alas! Take Both Teams to Score at 17/20 to be safe.

23/20 Preston | 22/10 | Blackburn 49/20 (19:30)

Preston’s 2-1 defeat against Sheffield Wednesday would have annoyed Simon Grayson. Not only did he see his side drop points, but he’ll also be without two key players (Eoin Doyle and Jermaine Beckford), who both saw red toward the end of the clash. The last thing Preston need is two first team regulars suspended for one of the busiest parts of the season. Blackburn have just started to turn a corner. They’ve climbed out of the relegation zone with two wins and a draw in their last three league games. They’re by no means out of the woods yet and Owen Coyle will know that any away points picked up against sides like Preston could prove invaluable. While Blackburn are the form side here, I simply can’t separate these two. A low-scoring draw looks likely, get on at 22/10.

Sunday 11 December

7/10 Derby | 26/10 | Nottingham Forest 37/10 (14:00)

Derby have been on fire following an indifferent start to the season. The Rams have won five in a row and will look to bring Forest back down to Earth following their shock 2-1 over Newcastle. Steve McClaren’s men have now won all five of their last league games as they continue to rocket up the table. Forest fans would have been thrilled following their 2-1 win over Newcastle last week. It wasn’t so much Forest’s win as it was Newcastle’s loss – two red cards and an own goal from the Toon saw them lose reined in somewhat by Brighton at the summit of the table. Derby all day for me – they’re the division’s form side and should be backed as such.

TREBLE @ 5/1
Derby Win 7/10
Aston Villa Win 15/20
Norwich Win 11/10

Written by Jason Dewey