Monday, 8 December 2008

Midweek Championship Preview, Game 22

Tomorrow night we face Coventry City at the Valley and next Monday we host Derby County live on the box. I believe these are the two most important games of the season so far and will go a long way to telling us if Phil Parkinson can motivate this squad of players and whether or not we are in for a prolonged relegation fight. How we get on here is also likely to determine his fate; two decent performances are simply not enough - we have to win a match and break our barren spell. If we fail to do that, the Board must consider a final roll of the dice this season irrespective of the cost.

Derby and Coventry have taken 25 points from 21 games so are on target to avoid relegation as things stand. Both would have had ideas of top six finishes at the start of the season. Paul Jewell has rebuilt his side completely whilst Chris Coleman has done what he's been able to with limited funds. Neither of these sides look good enough to make the play-offs and both will be confident that relegation is not a serious concern. Therefore, both are there for the taking and we have to get a win and a draw if we are to fight our way off the bottom anytime soon.

The trip to Norwich in a fortnight become a little harder after their derby win over Ipswich yesterday which lifted them up to 19th and 5 points clear of trouble; they know that a win over us will widen any gap and we have to go there on the back of two decent home performances. The fixtures in our division over the next two games also look kind to us and this really is our big chance to make a break.

Live on the box this evening, Palace will be expecting another win to continue their play-off push. Warnock's made them hard to beat again but top quality they aren't. Saints meanwhile are unbeaten in four and have looked better away from home. I can see another battling draw in prospect here.
Prediction; 1-1

Owen Coyle continues to get the most from his side. They continued their cup heroics at Bramall Lane on Saturday where they won a thriller 3-2. Favourites for a play-off place now, they might run Reading and Birmingham close for an automatic spot.
Prediction; 2-0

Charlton AthleticCoventry City
We must get at Coventry quickly here and we desperately need the first goal. I believe we need to throw caution to the wind and play an attacking game for most of the match. Moutaouakil is likely to return at right-back for the injured Cranie and Parky must give some thought to the front two pairing. Burton deserves another start and I'd give Gray the benefit of the doubt with a view to changing him or even both of them if we don't score in the first half. Waghorn must be worth another go and Dickson must get longer than normal if he's tried. We also have to stop Michael Mifsud from scoring, something we failed to do in both games last year.
Prediction; 2-1

Not a good time to play Sheffield United at home (after they've just been beaten at home). Forest did manage a rare home win last time out and a decent point at Coventry on Saturday. However, my money's on Kevin Beattie to win the game here for the Blades and keeping their ailing push going.
Prediction; 0-2

Argyle have hit the self-destruct button in recent weeks and suffered the ignomy of defeat at Doncaster Rovers on Saturday. I'd expect a reaction here but Brum should be too strong.
Prediction; 1-2

Preston to bounce back from their 2-0 reverse at Cardiff. Doncaster are worse than us away from home and will be sated by their 1-0 win over Plymouth.
Prediction; 2-0

Blackpool are nothing special although their season has been built on four away wins so far. Reading slipped up at home to Saints last time out and bounced back at Barnsley on Saturday. I can see them winning this decisively.
Prediction; 4-0

Amazingly, Sheffield Wednesday can catch QPR on 32 points if they win this. They have been very strong at home and Rangers have been weak away. Home win then.
Prediction; 2-0

Swansea City v Barnsley
Barnsley are a side you need to belive you can overtake to avoid the drop. They lost at home to Reading on Saturday and I think they will lose here too.
Prediction; 2-0

Derby were poor by all accounts at home to Palace on Saturday. This looks like mission impossible with Wolves keen to avenge their 1-0 defeat at Loftus Road. Lose here and Derby won't be fancying their trip to the Valley.
Prediction; 3-0

Bristol City need to be careful or they could be dragged into a relegation fight. With only one win in 9 games, I can't see them getting anything here.
Prediction; 2-0

Watford v Norwich City
Well they can't both lose here unfortunately. We can pray for a draw but I can't see beyond a Watford win after their battling 2-3 effort at St. Andrews.
Prediction; 2-1

Hard task for Parky to lift the lads and get another attacking home performance but that's what he has to do. The fans need to show some patience and provide vocal backing for everything good that we do. 

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