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    Joe Jones
    Joe Jones Tip

    Championship Matchday 22 Preview: Who will triumph in Midlands battle between Derby County and Aston Villa?

    Matchday 22 of the Championship gets underway on Friday night and, as we approach the halfway point of the season, it's still all up for grabs in the top three, the playoffs and the bottom three.

    What twists and turns can we expect from this weekend's football? Football Manics previews all 12 fixtures from the latest Championship matchday.

    All kickoffs Saturday 3pm unless otherwise stated.

    Sheffield Wednesday vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers (Friday, 7:45pm)

    The Owls are winless in five and under-fire manager Carlos Carvalhal is serving a touchline ban, while Wolves saw their charge stunted somewhat against Sunderland last week but will be eager to restore their winning run. I tip the visitors to claim a routine victory at Hillsborough.

    Score prediction: 1-3

    Derby County vs. Aston Villa

    Derby have bounced back from their defeat to Ipswich Town by winning their last two (and four of their last five), while Steve Bruce's plans were left in disarray after Henri Lansbury, Alan Hutton and Chris Samba were all ruled out through injury over the last week. Villa to put up a good fight but the Rams to claim all three points IMHO.

    Score prediction: 2-1

    Sunderland vs. Fulham

    Sunderland are slowly but surely improving since Chris Coleman came on board as manager and, even though Fulham have rediscovered some of their panache from last season, they're still quite inconsistent, so I reckon the Black Cats will win their first home game in a year.

    Score prediction: 1-0

    Preston North End vs. Sheffield United

    Preston have turned a corner, winning their last two games, while the Blades, for all their playoff ambitions,  have picked up just one point from their last four matches. However, I reckon the visitors will rediscover their form today.

    Score prediction: 0-1

    Birmingham City vs. Queens Park Rangers

    A clash between two woefully out of form sides, Brum have won just one of their last six, while QPR haven't beaten an opponent since October. Although one side could well get the better of their opponent, I reckon a draw is on the cards.

    Score prediction: 1-1

    Ipswich Town vs. Reading

    Mick McCarthy's side have won just two in six but could be boosted with the return of David McColdrick and a near fully-fit squad to choose from, while Reading haven't lost in six. I fancy the points to be shared at Portman Road.

    Score prediction: 2-2

    Brentford vs. Barnsley

    The Bees are unbeaten in their last nine league games at Griffin Park, although six have ended as draws, while the Tykes have lost five in a row and have kept just one clean sheet in their last 18 Championship away games. Home win, in my opinion.

    Score prediction: 2-0

    Millwall vs. Middlesbrough

    Boro are aiming to build on last week's victory over Ipswich, which ended a run of back-to-back defeats, and have no new injury or suspension worries. Millwall have however impressed in their last two games (beating Sheff Utd and drawing away at Villa) so I fancy them to get something from this home game.

    Score prediction: 1-1

    Leeds United vs. Norwich City

    Leeds continue to blow hot and cold, their last six games reading LWLWDW, and although they've overcome a recent blip, haven't recorded back to back wins since September. Norwich did beat a lacklustre Sheff Wed side last time out but I expect the Whites to pile more pressure on Daniel Farke.

    Score prediction: 2-1

    Bristol City vs. Nottingham Forest

    The Robins continue to fly high, with three wins on the trot (including against Sheff Utd and Boro), while Forest boast three wins from their last six but all against struggling opposition (Bolton, Norwich, QPR) and also lost against Birmingham, so I expect City to have too much for them at Ashton Gate.

    Score prediction: 3-1

    Bolton Wanderers vs. Burton Albion

    Another relegation six pointer as two struggling sides duke it out at the Macron. Bolton have edged out of the bottom three with two wins and two draws from their last six but there is very little between the bottom four. Burton have lost four of their last five and I fancy the Trotters to emerge victorious from this game.

    Score prediction: 2-0

    Cardiff City vs. Hull City (Saturday, 5:30pm)

    The Bluebirds will look to bounce back from a draw with Reading last time out, before which they won four in a row, but they will be missing captain Sean Morrison. Although Hull turned a corner by beating Brentford last week, they're still amid an injury crisis and a trip to the second-placed side in the Championship may prove a bridge too far at this stage.

    Score prediction: 3-1

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