Thursday, 18 December 2008

Weekend Championship Preview, Game 24

This weekend we start the second half of the season looking for the first of 32 points which we will need to stay up. In other words we know need to match the first half performances of QPR if we are to have any chance of avoiding a calamitous relegation to the third tier of English football.Put another way, we need to acquire 14 points more than the 18 we mustered first half. We go to Norwich, a side only five points and three places above us.  They have won four at home, drawn three and lost four but have out-scored the opposition in front of their home fans. Keeping a clean sheet or restricting them to one goal looks likely to be key to getting anything here.

A chance here for Barnsley to extend the gap between them and the bottom six. Plymouth are very inconsistent and likely to win away when unexpected, although with Christmas approaching and bleak playing conditions you have to fancy Barnsley at home here.
Prediction; 1-0

Championship match-of-the-day in prospect here.  Second play third and Reading's big chance to move into the automatic placings. I can see Hunt and Doyle scoring and an uncomfortable afternoon for Brum.
Prediction; 1-2

Blackpool are up to 16th and will be counting down the points to another survival season in the Championship. This will be a game in which they will see another three points for the taking and Swansea might not have enough fight to stop them.
Prediction; 2-1

City's home form has cost them their season. They have won only two and drawn seven. 
Burnley are having another fine season under Owen Coyle and will be confident of at least a point. They have been beating lesser sides away from home and I can't see City winning this.
Prediction; 2-2

Amazingly, Sheffield Wednesday are within touching distance of the play-off places thanks to impressive home form. This is a match they need to win if they are to make a concerted push this year. However, they have been vulnerable away from Hillsborough and Cardiff have been decent at home. Too much then for the Owls.
Prediction; 2-0

Ipswich are in a similar position to Wednesday but they have been slightly better away and Coventry less impressive than Cardiff at home. Neither side look good enough to me for a play-off spot and a stalemate here looks a strong possibility.
Prediction; 0-0

Derby County v Watford
Watford have put a couple of results together under new manager, Brendan Rogers. they will be up for this, but so might Derby after staying in contention at the Valley and snatching a late point. I'll go with the home side to edge this.
Prediction; 2-1

Away win. Top versus bottom, Wolves too much firepower. We need it to avoid an ignominious return to last place.
Prediction; 1-3

A draw looks as much as we can hope for here. If we concede the first goal I can't see any way back as the heads will drop. We should field an unchanged side if we can.
Prediction; 2-0

QPR have been making the most of it this year and this looks like another side they can beat at home. Preston flatter to deceive for me and show why this isn't a great division.
Prediction; 2-0

Neil Warnock returns to Bramall Lane for more cheers and jeers. The winner looks like breaking into the play-off spots and form favours Palace. However, I'll go for the home win and hope a bit of reality sets in for Palace who are punching above their weight right now.
Prediction; 2-1

Failure for Charlton to win at Norwich and the task of climbing out of the drop zone will get harder as these teams will collect two points between them at least. Saints won't get a bigger opportunity to win a game and move clear of the bottom three and I can see them taking it here. Forest play the bottom four (excluding themselves) in their next four matches and if they don't get a decent return from those games, Colin Calderwood could face the axe if they gamble on staying up.
Prediction; 1-0

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