Monday, 9 March 2009

Midweek Championship Preview, Game 37

Our turn-out at Reading tomorrow evening will probably be our lowest ever at a Reading v Charlton fixture. Probably as poor, if not worse, than some of the Reading showings at the Valley in the past. The heads have dropped and Plucky is talking of making changes, which is what we have to do now in preparation for next year. Youth looks like it will be given a chance, so expect Shelvey and Wright to feature. If Parkinson can overcome his prejudices, he might also consider starting with Basey and Moutaouakil at full-backs - neither Youga or Butterfield were too clever on Saturday and we are going to come under pressure at the Madjeski Stadium.

Here's my take on the other midweek matches....

Barnsley v Birmingham City
Could be a long dark night for Birmingham City. It's grim oop north and I fancy Reading to close the gap with games in hand. Barnsley have games in hand over those below them in the drop zone but they need to be winning at home and I think they'll get what they need.
Prediction; 2-0

Bristol City v Coventry City
Fresh from their predictable cup exit at home to Chelsea, Coventry's season is effectively over and they shouldn't take too much knocking over here.
Prediction; 2-0

Doncaster Rovers v QPR
With all the talk of Rangers appointing their latest manager (a different one every year - oh how I'll laugh if it's Paul Ince), things can't be too rosy in the Hoops camp. They look to have blown the play-offs and a defeat here would just about seal it.
Prediction; 2-1

Norwich City v Cardiff City
Poor old Norwich, they aren't getting too many breaks; after winning against the odds at QPR last week they got clattered at Blackpool on Saturday and are in deep trouble having played three games more than Barnsley. Realistically, they are now five points adrift of safety and Cardiff will present a huge obstacle. The Canaries will do well to get a point.
Prediction; 1-1

Preston NE v Sheffield Wednesday
Preston are still hanging around the play-offs despite my conviction that they aren't good enough. I still think they won't make it but they might sneak this one to make a fist of it.
Prediction; 2-1

Reading v Charlton Athletic
Reading are lying in wait to topple Birmingham for the second automatic place. They have a great chance here to cut the defict to one point with two games in hand and I fully expect them to take it. I suspect we will avoid the battering we are due but it might come at Wolverhampton on Saturday.
Prediction; 2-0

Sheffield United v Blackpool
Blackpool will be breathing more easily after besting Norwich last time out. The Blades should be too strong here.
Prediction; 2-0

Southampton v Derby County
Southampton's bubble was burst by Birmingham on Saturday but they only went down one-nil and they might put up a good fight here. Derby know a defeat would drag them back into the mix and that be enough to secure them a result.
Prediction; 1-1

Swansea City v Plymouth Argyle
The Swans have disappointed of late but they should coast this. Plymouth are a realistic target for Southampton if they can put another few results together.
Prediction; 2-0

Watford v Nottingham Forest
Watford looked vulnerable defensively to me on Saturday although the filip of only their third away win of the season may give them the edge here. Forest are battling though and I'll go for them to share two points here.
Prediction; 0-0

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Ipswich Town
Mick McCarthy's team talks this week will be straightforward - win the next two home games and they are virtually in the Premier League. Ipswich look like they will forego the chance to extend their losing play-off sequence this year and this might be as tough a match for them as it will be for us on Saturday.
Prediction; 3-1

Burnley v Crystal Palace
Burnley get another day's rest after losing at Arsenal on Sunday - this is played on Wednesday. Owen Coyle will need to refocus his side if they are to make the play-offs (which they deserve this year) and this must be one of the easiest games you can get at the moment.
Prediction; 2-0

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