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Football League Championship Preview

There’s plenty of action to look forward to in the English Football League Championship this weekend.
There’s plenty of action to look forward to in the English Championship this weekend.
We had a bit of a week to forget last time out as news of a number of strange results filtered through to South African punters. Rotherham beat Norwich while Preston cruised past Brighton in two of the week’s biggest shocks. Nevertheless, there’s plenty action to look forward to this weekend with yet another full set of fixtures on the go. The pick of the round’s matches will see Brighton welcome Sheffield Wednesday to the Falmer Stadium on Friday.

Friday 20 January

19/20 Brighton | Draw 9/4 | Sheffield Wednesday 29/10 (21:45)

Chris Hughton would have given his squad the old hairdryer treatment following their 2-0 loss at the hands of Preston North End last weekend. The defeat sees the Seagulls relinquish their spot at the top of the log, but also lose ground on Leeds and Reading in third and fourth. They will need a massive performance in front of their home fans against a resurgent Sheffield Wednesday team. The Owls are undefeated in seven matches in all competitions following a shaky start to the season. They cruised past Huddersfield Town last weekend in a game which saw Ross Wallace belt home from 35 yards before Fernando Forestieri poked home from close range in second half stoppage time. This is a tough one to call with all the value on a Wednesday win. The Owls are looking good, and I expect them to do well on the South Coast – take the away team on the Win/Draw Double Chance at 15/20.

Saturday 21 January

26/10 QPR | 5/2 | Fulham 19/20 (14:30)

In one of the upsets of the round, QPR managed to grab an away win at London neighbours, Reading. A 28th-minute goal from Jamie Mackie who got on the end of a world-class ball from Pawel Wszolek was enough to bag the R’s third league win on the spin. Fulham cruised past Barnsley with minimal fuss on Saturday afternoon at Craven Cottage. The 2-0 scoreline was a fair reflection on events as the Cottagers dominated proceedings with the goals coming from Chris Martin and Scott Malone. This looks as though it could be a tight affair. QPR are the form side, though. They should be too good for Fulham in front of the Loftus Road faithful.

15/10 Wigan | 43/20 | Brentford 7/4 (17:00)

Wigan stayed alive in their quest to survive the drop following an excellent 2-0 win against Burton Albion this past weekend. Callum Connolly got both goals as the Latics picked up only their fifth win of the season. The beleaguered Manchester club will need a similar performance against Brentford this weekend if they are to remain in touch with safety. Brentford won’t roll over for Wigan, though. The Bees showed plenty of fight and determination against table-topping Newcastle on Saturday, eventually going down 2-1 thanks to a 79th-minute Daryl Murphy goal. Even after going behind for the second time, Dean Smith’s men launched wave after wave of attacks on the Newcastle goal in a game where they probably deserved a point. This one looks as though it’ll be a close-run thing. That said, I think Brentford have the quality within their ranks to beat Wigan – get on at 7/4.

7/10 Huddersfield | 49/20 | Ipswich 39/10 (17:00)

Huddersfield would have been bitterly disappointed not to have at least claimed a point in their fixture with Sheffield Wednesday last week. That said, they’re still six points ahead of seventh-placed Derby County. David Wagner will be keen to claim the win, keeping the rest of the promotion-chasing teams at arm’s length. Ipswich’s season has been blighted by wild inconsistency. The Tractor Boys’ form over their last six games reads: LWLWLW. Their latest win came against Blackburn in a thrilling 3-2 win at Portman Road in which Tom Lawrence hit a cracking strike from 30 yards. Take Huddersfield to claim all three points here in a fairly straightforward win.

8/10 Derby | 24/10 | Reading 33/10 (17:00)

Derby have just gone off the boil of late. Two successive defeats in the league has seen the Rams lose touch with the play-off places. Their latest defeat came at the hands of Leeds United at Elland Road as Chris Wood’s header sealed the points – and third place – for Gary Monk’s men. Reading fans were understandably annoyed after their side succumbed to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of QPR last weekend. They now face the unenviable task of travelling to the iPro Stadium to take on a Derby side desperate to break back into the top six. Derby are without a win in their last three and Reading will be keen to bounce back after their Saturday defeat. Back Reading on the Win/Draw Double Chance at 9/10.

1/1 Aston Villa | 43/20 | Preston 11/4 (17:00)

Aston Villa went down 1-0 on Saturday against Wolves in what proved to be a pretty drab derby match. Joe Mason scuffed home a shot after Sam Johnstone parried the ball into his path. That was about as exciting as the game got as Steve Bruce was left frustrated at his side’s lack of penetration. Preston produced the result of the weekend as they soared past the Seagulls who never really looked like taking flight. Goals either side of the break by Paul Huntington and Callum Robinson ended Brighton’s unprecedented 17-match unbeaten run. Preston have all the momentum here and should be backed as such at 11/4.

1/1 Norwich | 47/20 | Wolves 51/20 (17:00)

Norwich sunk to new depths last weekend as they went down 2-1 against Rotherham at the New York Stadium. There is now massive pressure on Alex Neil to turn things around. He even came out and spoke about meetings he had with Jez Moxey and Delia Smith – the writing seems to be on the wall for the Scot. Wolves will itching to sink their teeth into the flightless Canaries this Saturday. The Midlands side come into this game off the back of a good derby win against local rivals Aston Villa last weekend. There is so much value on Wolves here that you simply can’t ignore. Norwich have been all over the shop in recent weeks and don’t look like they’ll be able to sink Wolves. Back the away side on the Win/Draw Double Chance at 7/10.

1/4 Newcastle | 9/2 | Rotherham 17/2 (17:00)

Newcastle went back to the summit of the league following their hard-fought 2-1 win over Brentford last weekend. Rafa Benitez and his men are now back at the summit of the league following Brighton’s slip-up against Preston. There’s not much to say here. Although Rotherham managed to claim a surprise win over an out of sorts Norwich side, I simply don’t expect them to get anything out of this game. Take the Toon on the (-1) Handicap at 15/20 with confidence.

15/10 Nottingham Forest | 23/10 | Bristol City 33/20 (17:00)

Forest come into this game on a dire run of form which has seen them fail to win in their last eight games. As a result, Philippe Montanier has been sacked by the club’s board. Whoever comes in to replace the Frenchman will have little to no time to bed in with the side now firmly in a relegation battle. On the bright side for Forest, Bristol are probably the only other side in the division on a worse run at the moment. The Robins threw away their lead twice at Ashton Gate to go down 3-2 at the hands of Cardiff City. It’s the second week in a row that the Robins have thrown a game after being in a commanding position, with Reading coming from two goals down to beat them on matchday 25. Tricky one to call this, but I think Forest will edge it – back the home team at 15/10.

15/20 Cardiff | 49/20 | Burton Albion 34/10 (17:00)

Neil Warnock came into the Cardiff set-up in order to steer them clear of the relegation scrap that looked more and more likely before his arrival. Two 3-2 wins in as many weeks has helped ease the pressure on the club, and with Burton up next, there’s absolutely no reason why they can’t make it three on the spin. Despite a good start to the season, Burton have started drifting closer and closer to the relegation zone. In fact, a loss this weekend could see them end up as far down the table as 23rd. They were comprehensively beaten last time out by second-bottom Wigan Athletic – expect a similar result this weekend. Take the home win at 15/20.

13/10 Blackburn | 22/10 | Birmingham 2/1 (17:00)

We haven’t really seen Blackburn priced up as favourites this season, so it’s a bit strange to see that the bookies making them favourites against Birmingham. Neither side is in particularly good form, with Rovers most recent win coming in a shock 1-0 triumph over Newcastle. It was business as usual for Owen Coyle’s men this past weekend as they went down 3-2 to Ipswich. Birmingham have endured a bit of a strange season. A bright start was marred by the surprise sacking of Gary Rowett who many believed to be one of the best young managers in the UK. They could only manage a disappointing 0-0 draw with a woeful Nottingham Forest side last week as the Blues continue to struggle for goals. Two teams struggling to find the net here. Take Both Teams to Score: No at 9/10.

43/20 Barnsley | 23/10 | Leeds 23/20 (19:30)

Barnsley would have been disappointed not to have made more of a contest of their clash with Fulham at the weekend. The Cottagers cruised through to a 2-0 victory following goals from Chris Martin and Scott Malone. The Tykes will face yet another stern test when they welcome Gary Monks’ high-flying Leeds side to Oakwell. Leeds will look to continue their charge at the top of the table following their excellent 1-0 win over Derby last weekend. The Yorkshire team now occupy third place on the standings and will be aiming to chase down second-placed Brighton in the coming weeks. This should be a fairly straightforward win for Leeds, get on at 23/20.

TREBLE @ 5/1
Cardiff Win 15/20
Reading Win/Draw 9/10
Newcastle (-1) Handicap 15/20

Written by Jason Dewey