Two sides having great seasons but going through bad patches; both have won just 2 of their last 6.
The meanest defence in the division looked frankly ropey against both Watford and Leeds and Neil Warnock will have had words. Both sides have early season goal-machines who have slipped out of form. Jamie Mackie hasn’t scored in 14 Championship games while Scott Sinclair has 1 in 8.
Expect a lively game with little cutting edge. Wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see a repeat of the 0-0 at the Liberty Stadium.
Barnsley v Burnley
Both these sides sit in mid-table but the home side are much the happier. Barnsley are on fire, winning 4 of their last 5; they haven’t conceded for 5 hours. Burnley expect more. Santa has given them a relatively generous festive schedule and fans will be looking for a move up the table. They are, however, the only Championship team not to have won away and Barnsley won’t let that change at Oakwell.
Cardiff v Coventry
The title contenders in relegation form take on solid play-off chasers. A bad Christmas will see the Bluebirds overhauled by the chasing pack and they will welcome Jay Bothroyd back with open arms. Coventry are attracting respect rather than headlines under Aidy Boothroyd. Their defence has been almost impregnable; 4 straight clean sheets before last weekend’s loss to Norwich. It’ll be tight but Cardiff will pick up a much-needed win.
Derby v Doncaster
2 teams lurking in the play-off fringes. It’s all gone horrible for Derby, with 4 straight defeats. In the space of a couple of months, County have been the team that can’t stop winning and the team that can’t win. 9th position accurately reflects the side they are: good but not title contenders.
Rovers need to do better against better teams; they’ve won just once in 11 matches against top-half teams. This might just be a Christmas cracker between 2 teams that like to go for it. The home side will break their losing streak.
Portsmouth v Millwall
Pompey keep beating the best in this division. They return to Fratton Park with 6 points from tough trips to Norwich and Swansea and they will have too much class for Millwall. The Lions, however, are unbeaten in four and look solid enough to avoid a relegation scrap.
Ipswich v Watford
Much to Roy Keane’s delight, Ipswich battled through a snowstorm last weekend to pick up a long overdue win. The Christmas period will show whether they are out of the woods yet. Never clear what to expect from Malkay Mackay’s cavalier young side; they outclassed the leaders on their last outing. A draw, possibly high scoring.
Leicester v Leeds
Leeds are rampant and but it is hard to stay rampant for long in the Championship. Leicester might be inconsistent but improving; they will deliver the shock of the day by ending Leeds’ unbeaten run.
Reading v Bristol
Reading tend to draw often at home. They will draw this one as well.
Sheffield United v Hull
Two Yorkshire sides who both have higher aspirations than to hover uneasily above the drop zone. This game will showcase some of the least productive strikers in the division. The visitors will nick it.