Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Weekend Championship Preview, Game 41

Hard on the heels of the 3-2 away win at Southampton, Championship League action returns to the Valley on Saturday when Charlton Athletic get the chance to complete back-to-back wins for the first time in 17 months. Surely the statistic that tells you all you need to know about our plight during the last two years.

In a busy Public Holiday Easter weekend, the games played counter will click on another two and we should know where we all stand come Tuesday morning. Not, of course, that Addicks fans will be at all surprised irrespective of our results.

Reading v Sheffield United
A crunch match in the race to catch Birmingham City. Played on Good Friday, Brum will have the added incentive of knowing what they have to do at the Valley on Saturday. Sheffield United are on a rich run of form and have been finding late goals when they have needed them to win games, as they did last night at home to Barnsley. Reading were my shout for automatic promotion at the start of the season (with Derby!) and this really is their last chance. They have a game in hand on the clubs above them but need to win it and to win this one if they are to be the club to threaten the Blues. I'm going for the Royals to start their belated surge here.
Prediction; 2-1

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Southampton
Wolves can see the finishing line and should limp home (like Chris Iwelumo after Lee Carsley's tackle on him on Monday) but will need to knock over fall-guys like Southampton. Saints nicked a late point at Watford last night but you have to think that draws won't be good enough at this stage of proceedings. Wolves to crush Southampton here and pile on the misery. SEB to do the damage. This is the other Good Friday match, so again, Birmingham will have all the incentive they need come Saturday.
Prediction; 3-0

Burnley v QPR
Burnley are desperate for play-off points and should get them here. QPR have had another disappointing season and their annual change of manager is due. I think that's where their Board spends the pocket money that they give the club each year.
Prediction; 2-0

Charlton Athletic v Birmingham City
Three home matches left after this one, Blackpool, Cardiff and Norwich. Cardiff will come for play-off points and Norwich look like they may still need something to finish clear of the drop. So, apart from the Blackpool match (lowest gate of the season?), the others, starting with Birmingham on Saturday should have some added spice. Birmingham might actually bring a decent away following for a change - their traditional away support is as pathetic as ours has become when you consider it as a percentage of their home gate. I always put this down to the reluctance of Brummies to spend money and the fact that Birmingham have such a bad reputation for abusing visiting fans that they subconciously fear they will get the same treatment in return away from St Andrews. It's a holiday weekend, too, so I am expecting a boisterous and swaggering set of the second city's most unpleasant fans. On paper City should get the result but I am going to take a punt on a second successive Charlton victory, propelled from midfield again, although Tresor Kandol might find another opportunity here to score.
Prediction; 2-1

Crystal Palace v Cardiff City
Palace are going about sowing the seeds for a relegation campaign next year. They are in dire financial trouble and want-away Simon Jordan has found no takers this season. Their results have collapsed since Christmas and there are rumours of dissent in the camp. A draw at home to Coventry last night in front of 12,898 fans shows you the apathy that exists in SE25. Once we are nestled in League One, it may be time for the Simon Jordan saying of "what goes around comes around" for the Eagles. In the meantime, I expect Cardiff to get a draw and their unpleaant supporters to cause trouble at Selhurst Park on Saturday as they make a weeekend of it. I am glad our game against them is now a night match as the opportunity for trouble will be much more limited.
Prediction; 1-1

Ipswich Town v Doncaster Rovers
This is effectively a mid-table nothing match but Rovers are on a poor run and need to find another win before the season finishes. Can't see them getting it here as Town seek to finish a poor home season by their standards (only six wins) on a high.
Prediction; 2-0

Nottingham Forest v Bristol City
Forest have managed only two draws in their last five and scored only three goals in the process. They will face a City side who have to win to stay in contention for an increasingly unlikely looking play-off place. I would have taken City to win this two months ago but a determined Forest performance might see them off here as they wake-up to the reality of their situation. Sitting on the fence then.
Prediction; 1-1

Plymouth Argyle v Coventry City
Argyle need a win here to follow-up on their splendid win at Blackpool last time out. However, they have been very erratic at home and the Sky Blues have only been beaten eight times away from the Ricoh. A draw might be the most Paul Sturrock can hope for.
Prediction; 0-0

Preston NE v Blackpool
West Lancs derby here and Preston should win this at a canter. However, these derby games are hard to predict. I'll stick with Preston to get the points they need.
Prediction; 1-0

Sheffield Wednesday v Derby County
Brian Laws is threatening to turn Wednesday into genuine promotion contenders the way they have been going this season. After winning at Norwich last week I expect them to get their tenth home win of the season here.
Prediction; 3-0

Swansea City v Norwich City
Home banker of the weekend for me, even if Swansea's play-off hopes were dealt a big blow by their draw at Ninian Park on Sunday. Norwich should be hard to break down but I can't see them providing too much goal threat.
Prediction; 2-0

Watford v Barnsley
Barnsley are in need of the points here to maintain their gap on Forest and Norwich. Watford should be just about safe now but know they need another two or three points to be sure. Both managers would probably settle for a point apiece.
Prediction; 1-1


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I notice that the blind linesman (Mr Artis) from the Fulham game is due for a reappearance at the Valley this weekend. To say nothing of the two greedy barstewards.