Friday, 13 March 2009

Weekend Championship Preview, Game 38

Nine games to go and effectively 13 points from safety including goal difference. If we lose at Molineux, as I expect us to, the gap is likely to increase to 14 points if one of three sides at the bottom get results. With eight matches remaining and five wins then required to close the gap, it's only realistic to expect that mathematical relegation could come at St Mary's if we fail to beat Preston at home a week on Saturday.

Barnsley v Blackpool
Barnsley came close to beating Birmingham City in the week as Michael Mifsud put them in front with eight minutes left. City managed an equaliser but the Tykes should be confident of seeing Blackpool off at Oakwell on Saturday. A win would give them parity with the Seasiders on 43 points.
Prediction; 1-0

Burnley v Nottingham Forest
Forest went down at Watford on Tuesday and they will find this a much tougher match. Burnley look to have the bit between their teeth as they close in on a play-off place and recovered from an early two-goal setback to thump Palace 4-2. Trouble for Forest.
Prediction; 3-0

Doncaster Rovers v Birmingham City
Sean O'Driscoll won't want this season to end. His Donny side are top since Christmas and had another decent win in the week over QPR. Birmingham will present another test for them but Doncaster can play with confidence and that could be enough for jittery Brum.
Prediction; 2-1

Norwich City v Plymouth Argyle
After beating Cardiff in the week, Bryan Gunn will tell his troops that this might be their last opportunity to save themselves from League One. A second successive win should see them clambour out of the drop-zone and drag Argyle back in.
Prediction; 2-0

Preston NE v Coventry City
PNE have finally slipped out of the play-off berths courtesy of a scrambled home draw against Wednesday which they only managed in the second minute of added time. A must win game for Preston although Coventry hardly arrive with anything to argue about.
Prediction; 2-0

Reading v Ipswich Town
The Royals are making a meal of catching Birmingham. They will get the first chance in the week when they play one of their two games in hand at Doncaster, but first they need to win at home. That should be all the incentive they need, especially after conceding that late equaliser to the Addicks.
Prediction; 2-0

Sheffield United v Derby County
United missed the opportunity to build a cushion on their play-off lead in the week by drawing at home to Blackpool. They had to come from behind to get a 2-2 draw and, like Reading, will be under pressure to secure all three points this time around. Derby are surely safe now and can secure their Championship status at Pride Park.
Prediction; 1-0

Southampton v QPR
QPR look to have gone on holiday early and have managed eight games without a win. No surprise then that the knives are out for Paulo Sousa. The Saints will know that their best survival chance comes in the next four matches. If they can avoid defeat here they have Blackpool, Charlton and Watford in the next three games. I can see them overcoming QPR and Charlton but that good work could be undone at Blackpool and Watford.
Prediction; 1-0

Swansea City v Crystal Palace
Palace's appalling run continued in the week when they squandered a gifted two-goal lead. You need to battle at Swansea and I think they've lost all their fight.
Prediction; 3-0

Watford v Sheffield Wednesday
The Hornets look to have put their serious drop worries behind them. Up to 17th they have a two-win cushion on danger. They must be favourites here but Wednesday are proving obstinate this year and I'll go for them to grind out a point.
Prediction; 1-1

Wolverhampton WanderersCharlton Athletic
It was good to see we didn't throw the towell in at Reading after losing our lead to two quick goals but it's surely too much to hope we can get a result here? Wolves ran us ragged at the Valley earlier in the season and they should have players queueing up to score despite their wobble of late. 
Prediction; 3-0

Bristol City v Cardiff City
Championship nail-biter of the weekend. This is the Sunday match and a play-off battle between neighbours. City are just oustide the play-offs and trail cardiff who are just inside by two points. Bristol will be desperate to overhaul their Welsh cousins but I suspect Cardiff won't lose two in a row and will know that the draw maintains their advanatge.
Prediction; 1-1


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