Championship Preview: Promotion contenders collide
For Cardiff who have experienced heartbreak in the Championship play-offs in recent seasons, automatic promotion is a must given their impressive current position. Moreover Crystal Palace fans now expect to finish in the top two following the capture of Ian Holloway. Therefore this will be an important match for both as they try to get one over their promotion rivals.
We look ahead to the this match, the other standout games and the players to watch this week in the Championship…
MATCH OF THE WEEK
Cardiff v Crystal Palace
Cardiff have taken 16 points from their last seven games, although they lost their last fixture at home to rock-bottom Peterborough. They are currently two points clear at the top of the league, but face a testing run of games against fellow promotion candidates.
They have to take on Leicester away before this game at the Cardiff City Stadium, where they have such an impressive record. Peterborough is the only game they have failed to win at home.
Meanwhile Crystal Palace currently sit in second but they have only taken six points from their last five games in contrast to their five straight wins beforehand.
Palace face Huddersfield at home before this game in midweek.
OTHER NOTABLE MATCHES
Ipswich v Bristol City – The two teams sit just outside the relegation zone. Ipswich do have a five point cushion whereas Bristol City are only outside on goal difference. After an extremely poor performance against Derby at home last weekend, it may be the final game in charge for Derek McInnes.
Watford v Nottingham Forest – Two teams just outside the play-offs. Forest go into the fixture with more confidence after picking up four points from their last two games in contrast to Watford’s one point from their fixtures against Burnley and Hull.
ONE TO WATCH
Bolton currently lie in thirteenth, 11 points above the relegation zone and eight points away from the play-offs.
However they are on a good run of form having taken four points from their last two games against tricky opposition in Charlton and Huddersfield.
Their next two games are against Sheffield Wednesday and Peterborough who are both in the relegation zone. The Christmas period will be a great chance to continue their current form and push themselves closer to the play-off positions.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Millwall currently sit just inside the play-offs thanks in part to Chris Wood’s superb form.
The frontman has scored 10 goals in 18 games since joining on-loan from West Brom. Last time out he notched a brace against Brighton, which included a fabulous 30-yard drive.
Wood’s good work-rate and finishing instinct has prompted Kenny Jackett to declare his interest in signing the 21-year-old permanently.
Millwall face Barnsley away at home before an away trip to Cardiff. Wood will be looking to continue his recent form and push the Lions further up the table.
Friday 21st December 2012
Blackpool v Wolves 7.45pm
Derby v Hull 7.45pm
Saturday 22nd December 2012
Birmingham v Burnley 3pm
Blackburn v Brighton 3pm
Ipswich v Bristol City 3pm
Leeds United v Middlesbrough 3pm
Leicester v Cardiff 3pm
Millwall v Barnsley 3pm
Peterborough v Bolton 3pm
Sheff Wed v Charlton 3pm
Watford v Nottingham Forest 3pm
Crystal Palace v Huddersfield 5.20pm
Wednesday 26th December 2012
Nottingham Forest v Leeds United 12.15pm
Charlton v Ipswich 1pm
Barnsley v Birmingham 3pm
Bolton v Sheff Wed 3pm
Bristol City v Watford 3pm
Burnley v Derby 3pm
Cardiff v Crystal Palace 3pm
Huddersfield v Blackpool 3pm
Hull v Leicester 3pm
Middlesbrough v Blackburn 3pm
Wolves v Peterborough 3pm
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