The battle for play-offs and battle for straight promotion are becoming a real fight in Championship this season. Fulham now sits in second spot, only one point above Cardiff, but Cardiff is still having a game in hand. It reminds me of two seasons ago when we had a similar situation with Middlesbrough and Brighton, and maybe this season we’ll have to wait again until the last match to see who will get a straight promotion.
Aston Villa vs Leeds
Other then Burton, Leeds is the worst team in Championship this season if you look only at the results after Boxing Day. It’s quite correct to say that Thomas Christiansen saved them from relegation, then he’s been sacked. On Friday they will meet with Aston Villa, one of the best teams in Championship, and although Aston Villa is not in such a good form currently, this should be an easy task for them. They have won against Cardiff and that’s a big boost for their team, they are well organized in defence and more importantly they are excellent in attack. Leeds on the other side is conceding far too many, they rely on defence, but their defence just can’t deal with a pressure.
Aston Villa to win: 2-0
Sheffield United vs Millwall
Millwall is now officially in play-offs, but can they get an away win against direct opponents? I believe they can! Its 16 unbeaten games now for Millwall, and I don’t think that they have reached play-off spot just to lose it immediately. Sheffield United already won against one direct opponent in their last game, but Middlesbrough had a red card. The reason why Millwall is so good is the fact that their defence is well organized, they don’t score much, but they just don’t concede too. Sheffield United is having an excellent attack, but I don’t think that they can score against Millwall on Saturday.
Millwall to win: 0-1
Barnsley vs Bolton
This is the best chance that Barnsley can get. They are playing against their direct opponent and if they win they will get out of the relegation zone. Luckily for them, Bolton is awful when it comes to an away performance, they have only one win in 21 away games and although they really need a win now, they will struggle against Barnsley on Saturday. It’s quite simple, Barnsley need a win, Bolton can be satisfied with a point, so Bolton will certainly try to rely more on their defence. However, Barnsley has been in good form lately, they scored against much better teams then Bolton, and they can certainly score again on Saturday.
Barnsley to win: 2-0
Burton vs Derby
Derby really needs a win. They are struggling to secure their play-off spot, and although they have a game in hand, it’s quite easier to get a win against Burton than it is against Cardiff. They have lost against Wolves, but to be honest, Wolves were quite unreal in that game; especially Ruben Neves with what might be the goal of the season. When it comes to Derby County, they are still excellent in attack, and their defence can certainly handle Burton. Another reason why Derby should easily win this one is the fact that Burton is really awful when it comes to the home performance; they have won only two home games so far.
Derby to win: 0-2
Hull vs Sheffield Wednesday
It’s a bit late, but Hull is back in the game! Their 5-0 win against Burton was quite unexpected, but they are showing a good form and desire to win. Sheffield Wednesday is not so good when it comes to an away performance, but they are good enough to try to get a win against Hull. I am expecting an open game, with a lot of chances and lot of goals on both sides. To me, Hull is having a better chance of winning this one, they are simply in better form, and they haven’t lost any of their last four games.
Hull to win: 3-2
Middlesbrough vs Bristol City
It’s quite wonderful to see this many important matches in one gameweek. I really enjoy writing these predictions and I can’t wait to see results on Saturday. Middlesbrough and Bristol City are once again direct opponents. Bristol City has won against Birmingham in their last match, but can they get an away win against Middlesbrough? Sadly, I don’t think so. Middlesbrough lost their play-off spot due to the red card, and they will be quite motivated to get it back. Defensively, they are the better side, and although Bristol City might be better in attack, Patrick Bamford, Adama Traore and Britt Assombalonga has all been excellent for Middlesbrough this season.
Middlesbrough to win: 2-1
Norwich vs Cardiff
These next few games won’t be easy for Cardiff, they started a bad run in the worst time possible and they are competing with Fulham who is in great form. Norwich away sounds tough, and it will be tough, but I believe that Cardiff is good enough to get back on tracks. They lost against Aston Villa and Wolves, and those two are quite better sides than Norwich. Cardiff is excellent in defence, but they need to start scoring if they want to get a straight promotion. Luckily for them, Norwich is conceding quite a lot and they struggle to get a good result when they play at home, so this shouldn’t be a hard challenge for Cardiff.
Cardiff to win: 0-1
Nottingham Forest vs Ipswich
It’s not working for Aitor Karanka and Nottingham Forest, they’ve tried everything, but they just can’t win. However, they are getting a lot of draws, and considering the fact that Mick McCarthy has left Ipswich and their head of coaching, Bryan Klug will take charge of this game, Nottingham Forest might have a chance. I don’t think that Nottingham Forest will win this one, but they might get another draw as Ipswich struggled to score recently, while Nottingham Forest has been excellent only in defence.
QPR vs Preston
This should be a good game too. QPR is excellent at home while Preston has been magnificent when it comes to an away performance. Both clubs will fight to win this one, and both clubs will probably score. QPR scored 4 against Sheffield Wednesday in their last game, while Preston has scored 3 against Leeds. So this one will certainly be a good fight, I am expecting a lot of goals on both sides, but for me, draw seems like a most likely outcome when it comes to this game.
Reading vs Sunderland
Reading is not safe yet, so this match is also the one between the direct opponents. Both managers are having a similar style of play, and I expect this to be quite a closed game. When you look at both sides, Reading is having a better squad, they had better results throughout the season, but Sunderland has been quite good away from home. So this will be a tough one, both sides will have chances, but I believe that Rading has been playing better under Paul Clement, they’ve conceded only one against Fulham in their last game, so they might keep a clean sheet against Sunderland on Saturday.
Reading to win: 1-0
Fulham vs Brentford
Every game that Fulham and Cardiff will play until the end of the season is the big one. For Fulham, this is the tough one; they will play against Brentford, the side that has been excellent away from home this season. Brentford is best in attack, and they might struggle to score against Fulham, not only because Fulham is well organized at a back, but because Fulham will keep possession and not let Brentford have a lot of chances to score. When it comes to an attack, Fulham is excellent in that area too, they have Ryan Sessegnon who has been amazing this season, and their winter signing Aleksandar Mitrovic who scored 9 goals in 13 games since he arrived in London. This will certainly be a tough game for Fulham, but they are unbeaten in their last 20 games so they are in much better form then Brentford.
Fulham to win: 2-0
Wolves vs Birmingham
On Sunday, Wolves will meet Birmingham. This should be quite an entertaining game, Birmingham has been excellent under Garry Monk, but can they win against Wolves on Sunday? I don’t think so, however, I am expecting them to score at least once. Wolves are amazing at home, they have lost only two home games so far, and I believe that they will have another win on Sunday. As I said earlier, Ruben Neves scored an amazing goal in their win against Derby County, and their whole squad looked ready to play in Premier League next season.
Wolves to win: 3-1