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Found 32 results

  1. Fulham vs. Queens Park Rangers Fulham continue to steamroll their way through their fixture list - they're unbeaten in 15 now and have 12 wins among that run, including four in a row going into this game, to remain in a great position for a playoff place. QPR are also in form, winning their last two, but Craven Cottage is not a place you want to be playing at now, and I think Ryan Sessegnon and co will deliver a fifth win in a row. Score prediction: Fulham 3-1 QPR Barnsley vs. Millwall Barnsley's form remains dodgy but, from their last five, they have managed one win and two draws, a decent enough platform to build on, but build they must as they remain just three points above the drop zone. Unfortunately for them, Millwall's current form is on a par with the likes of Cardiff and Fulham, with five wins and a draw from their last six and unbeaten in 11. The Tykes will provide a stern test but I fancy the Lions to roar at Oakwell. Score prediction: Barnsley 1-2 Millwall Birmingham City vs. Hull City Birmingham boss Garry Monk will hope to have David Davis available for the first time when Hull visit St Andrew's, the captain having missed the last six matches, and given the Blues have lost their last seven league games, some inspiration is definitely needed. Hull, meanwhile, have mounted a great run to surge nine points clear of the bottom three and I can see them adding to their current two-match winning run against a side fast running out of ideas. Score prediction: Birmingham 0-2 Hull Brentford vs. Middlesbrough Jekyll & Hyde FC, aka Brentford, have drawn only once in their last 15 matches - they're a hard team to call in terms of form, but they have been better at home than away, which will stand them in good stead when they face a Boro side unbeaten in five and hoping to make it four wins on the trot - and the omens are good for the visitors, whose recent record against the Bees is superb - nine wins in their last 10 matches, and five wins in a row at Griffin Park. Score prediction: Brentford 0-2 Boro Bristol City vs. Ipswich Town Bristol City's playoff ambitions remain hanging by a thread given a woeful run of form but they will be hoping to edge closer to the top six, if not edge back in if results go their way, when they host an average Ipswich Town side reeling from a shock 3-0 home defeat at the hands of Hull City last time out. The Tractor Boys have been much better on the road, however, and I fancy them to deal another blow to the Robins' playoff hopes. Score prediction: Bristol C 0-1 Ipswich Leeds United vs. Sheffield Wednesday Another side whose form has tumbled in recent months, Leeds are 11 points adrift of the playoffs with nine games left, with just two league victories in their last 14 games, so that'll most likely be another season in the Championship for them. They'll be facing a Wednesday side in terrible form but which at least managed to stop the rot with a 1-1 draw against Bolton Wanderers last time out, but with neither side high on confidence, I'm going for a draw. Score prediction: Leeds 0-0 Sheff Wed Norwich City vs. Reading Norwich aren't doing tremendously well at the minute, with just two wins in their last 10, and will most likely be missing Alex Tettey, but they'll be up against a Reading side with just one victory from their past 17 Championship games and looking nervously over their shoulders at the bottom three, just six points away. For me, Norwich will just shade it. Score prediction: Norwich 2-1 Reading Sheffield United vs. Nottingham Forest Sheffield United could have leading scorer Leon Clarke - who has missed the last three games with a hamstring injury back for their home game against Nottingham Forest, and it will be a welcome boost for a Blades side that has been struggling for consistency in recent months. Forest's bad patch is now a thing of the past, however, and are unbeaten in their last six, but I still think the Yorkshire side will have enough for at least a point. Score prediction: Sheff Utd 1-1 Forest Sunderland vs. Preston North End Rock-bottom Sunderland are fast running out of time to avoid a second consecutive relegation but will be missing goalkeeper Jason Steele, who was sent off for handling outside his area during last weekend's 1-0 defeat at QPR, making the task even more difficult for the Black Cats. Preston fell to a last-gasp 2-1 defeat to Fulham last time out but they're still hoping to reach the playoffs and I can see them winning at the Stadium of Light, which is more of a bastion of darkness at present. Score prediction: Sunderland 0-2 Preston Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Burton Albion The leaders of the pack have seen their lead at the top of the table evaporate from double digits to just three points, as Cardiff City continue to rack up win after win, but they staved off a complete nullification by thrashing Reading last time out, and Burton should in theory offer just as little opposition, but at the same time, there will be nerves among the Wolves faithful as well as the players when faced with an opponent that they should in theory hammer, so I'm going to go against the logical option and claim that this will end all square. Score prediction: Wolves 0-0 Burton Bolton Wanderers vs. Aston Villa Six points clear of the bottom three, Bolton continue to look over their shoulders but they're getting draws here and there now which can be built on. Villa, meanwhile, have the opportunity to move back within four points of second-placed Cardiff, who do not play until Sunday, and I think they've learned their lesson from QPR and will take a seemingly straightforward game at the Macron much more seriously for victory. Score prediction: Bolton 0-2 Villa Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  2. Preston North End vs. Fulham A big playoff battle takes place at Deepdale as Preston, who are just a point off the top six, host in-form Fulham, who have overcome a blip to rekindle a winning run, which currently stands at three games. The Cottagers are difficult to stop at present so I fancy them to edge this encounter. Score prediction: 2-1 away win Middlesbrough vs. Barnsley Boro have won their last two in a row, hammering Leeds last Friday night and then claiming a good win at Birmingham in midweek. Barnsley are just a place and two points above the drop zone and, despite a change of manager, I can't see them getting anything from their trip to a side who are getting back to their true potential. Score prediction: 2-0 home win Sheffield Wednesday vs. Bolton Wanderers Both these two are nervously looking over their shoulders, the Owls seven points above the drop zone and the Trotters five clear of danger. Wednesday have however lost their last four league games while Bolton have drawn two and won one of their last four so they'll be favourites, although I think the points will be shared at Hillsborough. Score prediction: 1-1 draw Burton Albion vs. Bristol City Burton have lost 13 home Championship matches this season, while City are winless in nine away matches in all competitions. Two sides out of form, but the visitors - who remain just about in playoff contention - should have enough to get all three points against a team which one would fear is going to be one of three dropping into League One. Score prediction: 2-0 away win Ipswich Town vs. Sheffield United Ipswich have already lost twice to United this season - once in the Championship and once in the FA Cup - but the Blades have won just one of their last 19 league visits to Portman Road. A tricky game to call, with Chris Wilder's side a little higher in the table but Mick McCarthy's boys in slightly better form, I'm staying conservative and calling this a draw. Score prediction: 0-0 draw Reading vs. Leeds United The "festival derby" sees two out-of-form sides lock horns at the Madejski Stadium, though the hosts - with just one win in their last 14 league games - are very much in a relegation battle, while the visitors look increasingly destined for a mid-table finish. That said, so poor are Reading that Leeds should be able to triumph in Berkshire. Score prediction: 3-0 home win Hull City vs. Norwich City Hull remain perilously close to the drop zone despite scrambling together the odd win, with two victories in their last five league games, while Norwich's good run continues with one defeat in their last 12, although they've drawn their last five in a row. I see more of the same, with the spoils being shared on Humberside. Score prediction: 0-0 draw Queens Park Rangers vs. Sunderland QPR remain nervously looking over their shoulders although Ian Holloway will be pleased with the way they battled back to claim a late draw against Derby on Tuesday night. The same can't be said for Sunderland, who are so bereft of morale and quality that the odd draw is about as good as they can get at present. Home win for me. Score prediction: 2-0 home win Cardiff City vs. Birmingham City If any fixture could be considered a banker this weekend, I'd make this it. The promotion-chasing Bluebirds, playing at home, have won five league games in a row while Brum have lost seven on the trot in all competitions, so I reckon this will be a comfortable win for Neil Warnock's side. Score prediction: 3-1 home win Millwall vs. Brentford Millwall's form over their last six games is one of the best in the division, with four wins and two draws, and will be eager to leapfrog Brentford, a point and a place above them in 10th. The Bees are a solid outfit and have won three of their last four, plus both sides have enjoyed a decent record in London derbies, so I tip this to end all square. Score prediction: 2-2 draw Aston Villa vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers To round off the day is this crunch clash, a West Midlands derby which would be feisty any time but especially at this moment in time, with Wolves in danger of letting their previously unassailable top-of-the-table lead slip, while Villa are desperate to rise from the playoffs and into the automatic promotion places. Wolves boast undeniable quality but Villa also have a talented, Premier League-worthy squad, and with both sides having stuttered slightly in recent weeks, this will be a tight game to call. Should Villa prevail against Nuno Espirito Santo's charges, it will blow the promotion race wide open, and as a neutral, I would - in the words of Kevin Keegan - love it. So, I'm tipping Steve Bruce's side to just edge it. Score prediction: 1-0 home win Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  3. We have been good so far this season in terms of weather but we were overdue a weekend where the conditions would just be too much to stage games of football. A number of Championship games have been postponed this weekend due to the combined effects of the polar vortex nicknamed "Beast from the East" and Storm Emma. However, many of the fixtures have survived, so Football Manics will go through the games that will be taking place. Middlesbrough vs. Leeds United Boro go into this game on the back of a bad-tempered last-gasp draw against Sunderland, though the previous game - against Hull City - proved a resounding win, and they will have Adama Traore available after the red card against the Black Cats was rescinded. Leeds, meanwhile, expect to have Adam Forshaw back after missing the win over Brentford because his wife was in labour, while Pablo Hernandez and Kemar Roofe may also be fit to return as Paul Heckingbottom's charges seek to make it four league matches unbeaten. A tight game between two sides that still harbour outside hopes of promotion despite wavering forms in recent months, I expect this to end all square. Score prediction: 1-1 draw Aston Villa vs. Queens Park Rangers Villa hope to have 14-goal top scorer Albert Adomah back after three games out with hamstring trouble as they seek to continue their return to form following their win at Sheffield Wednesday. QPR, for whom Joel Lynch will be a doubt with a virus, will be hoping to avoid a third consecutive defeat, but with Villa having overcome their blip and playing at home, I think they will be too strong for the R's. Score prediction: 2-0 home win Bolton Wanderers vs. Preston North End Bolton are hoping to build on their win over Sunderland and draw at Norwich - both also yielding clean sheets - going into this game and could be giving former Black Cats man Jan Kirchhoff his debut in the white shirt. Preston, meanwhile, lost at home to Ipswich Town last time out and drew their three league games prior, but Bolton should not provide too much of an obstacle and I fancy the visitors to get a point. Score prediction: 1-1 draw Bristol City vs. Sheffield Wednesday Bristol City's bad form has finally seen them drop out of the top six, with two defeats and three draws doing the damage for Lee Johnson's men, and they could line up against the Owls without Nathan Baker, who is nursing a hamstring problem. Wednesday, meanwhile, have lost their last two league games, undoing the prior progress under Jos Luhukay, but Tom Lees is in contention to return after three months out, and with the Robins in such bad form, I fancy the visitors to earn a point and a clean sheet. Score prediction: 0-0 draw Derby County vs. Fulham Derby, who have drawn three and lost one of their last four, will be without the suspended Chris Baird for their home clash with Championship promotion rivals Fulham as he begins a three-match ban against his former club after he was sent off in the draw at Reading. While the Rams' form has tailed off, the Cottagers continue to go from strength to strength, having beaten the mighty Wolves last time out and also got positive results against Aston Villa and Bristol City beforehand, so I expect them to continue their surge up the table with a win in the East Midlands. Score prediction: 0-2 away win Millwall vs. Sunderland Millwall boss Neil Harris has no fresh injury worries as he prepares to defend an unbeaten eight-game Championship run against bottom-of-the-table Sunderland, and with three wins in a row, morale is high at The Den. In contrast, the Black have picked up just five points in 2018, fewer than any other Championship side, and I can't expect things to change away at an in-form side and playing at a stadium known for its intimidating atmosphere. Score prediction: 3-0 home win Nottingham Forest vs. Birmingham City Forest managed to stop the rot with an emphatic 5-2 win at QPR last time out and will fancy their chances against a team that has lost their last four league games on the trot. Good omens for the Reds include Aitor Karanka having never lost against Birmingham in the Championship and the Blues not having kept a clean sheet at the City ground since 2001, so I think the game is there for the taking. Score prediction: 3-1 home win Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Reading Wolves are enduring another blip and at probably the worst time as their two draws and one defeat have seen their previously unassailable lead at the top of the table cut to just six points. Just their luck that they're playing at home against a side that has won just one in their last 14 games - and that against meek Burton - so I don't see Nuno Espirito Santo having any problems against the Royals. Score prediction: 2-0 home win Postponed games: Barnsley vs. Norwich City, Sheffield United vs. Burton Albion, Brentford vs. Cardiff City. Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  4. We're on gameweek 34 of 46 and the finish line is getting closer by the minute, but plenty of twists and turns remain in the Championship promotion, playoff and relegation races. How will this weekend's games pan out? Football Manics previews the action. Hull City vs. Sheffield United Hull remain perilously close to the drop zone having won just one of their last 11 Championship games, drawing four and losing six, while the Blades are just two points from the playoff places and are hoping to secure three consecutive league wins for the first time since October. Score prediction: 0-2 away win Queens Park Rangers vs. Nottingham Forest QPR's form is sketchy at present, with four defeats in their last six, although they've won their last two home league games, while Forest have won just two of their past 14 games in all competitions but have at least steadied the ship with two draws from their last two games following three straight league defeats. I predict a split of the points at Loftus Road. Score prediction: 1-1 draw Leeds United vs. Brentford United's form remains poor, without a league win in nine, as well as shipping 10 goals in their last three at Elland Road, while Brentford have bounced from two league defeats in a row to win their last two league games, scoring seven and conceding none. I back Brentford to put another nail in the Whites' promotion coffin. Score prediction: 1-3 away win Burton Albion vs. Millwall Burton go into this game on the back of a 2-1 win against fellow strugglers Barnsley but will be facing a team in superb form hoping to make it three wins on the spin and is unbeaten in their last seven. Despite the psychological boost that the Brewers now have, I think the Lions will have too much for their opponents. Score prediction: 1-2 away win Sheffield Wednesday vs. Aston Villa Wednesday continue to stumble this term despite Jos Luhukay's appointment, going into this on the back of a 2-1 loss at Millwall, and remain woeful in front goal, while Villa are in the middle of a blip - a defeat and a draw having racked up consecutive wins previously - and are desperate to get back to winning ways, which I think they will do at Hillsborough. Score prediction: 0-2 away win Sunderland vs. Middlesbrough The Wear-Tees derby sees a team on a crash course towards League One against one still in the hunt for the playoffs but suffering from inconsistent form. Sunderland have lost four of their last five, drawing the other, while Boro have won two and drawn two of their last four. That said, I fancy the Black Cats to take a point against the visitors. Score prediction: 0-0 draw Preston North End vs. Ipswich Town Preston are unbeaten in their last seven league games, though the last three have all ended 1-1, the Lilywhites throwing away the lead each time. Ipswich, meanwhile, have won just two of their last 11 Championship games but are unbeaten in their last three away trips. I see both teams cancelling each other out in a stalemate. Score prediction: 0-0 draw Norwich City vs. Bolton Wanderers Norwich have lost just one of their last 10 Championship outings, losing seven of their previous 10 before this run, and twice in the last minute of injury time to salvage draws against both Ipswich Town and Wolves, while Bolton go into this game having beaten Sunderland but remain poor on the road, so I tip the Canaries to claim all three points. Score prediction: 2-0 home win Birmingham City vs. Barnsley Two out-of-form sides collide, with the Blues having lost their last three Championship games, failing to score each time, and the Tykes having picked up just one win from their last 17 league games, netting just nine goals in that period and never more than once in a match. But given Birmingham were previously doing well and are at home, I fancy them to edge this encounter. Score prediction: 1-0 home win Reading vs. Derby County Reading, who have just 6 points from their last 10 games, remain too close to the bottom three for comfort and will be desperate to end a three-game winless run, but will have to do so without Chris Martin as he cannot play against his parent club. Derby are also winless in three but they have enough quality about them to get back in form and I think they'll do fine at the Madejski. Score prediction: 0-2 away win Fulham vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers A big, big clash as in-form Fulham host leaders Wolves, although the former were held by Bristol City and the latter were pegged back against Norwich last time out, so both will be eager to strike a decisive blow against their fellow big guns. With Ryan Sessegnon in such scintillating form, he can be a test for any opposition back line, but I think Wolves have enough to overcome the Cottagers. Score prediction: 1-2 away win Cardiff City vs. Bristol City Sunday sees second-placed Cardiff hoping to see off another fellow promotion chaser in Bristol City, who beat the Bluebirds in the reverse fixture but have won just one of their last nine. Neil Warnock's side has picked up 17 points out of 21 since losing four successive league games during the festive period and I fancy them to strike another blow in the Robins' playoff hopes. Score prediction: 2-0 home win Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  5. A midweek feast of Championship football beckons as matchday 33 gets underway on Tuesday evening. How can we expect the eight scheduled fixtures to pan out? Football Manics takes a closer look. All kickoffs 7:45pm GMT unless otherwise stated. Aston Villa vs. Preston North End Villa's superb winning run came to a crashing halt at the weekend against a Ryan Sessegnon-inspired Fulham, so they will be eager to put the setback behind them sharpish. Preston will be tough opponents, however, having lost just one of their last 16 Championship matches - seven wins and eight draws have edged them close to the playoff spots and they will be wanting to build on that, though I think the hosts will have too much for them. Score prediction: 2-0 home win Barnsley vs. Burton Albion Barnsley have slipped into the bottom three but will hope new manager Jose Morais can inspire his new side to victory against basement boys Burton. The Tykes have won just one of their past 16 Championship games but face a side that has won just one of their last nine - I think the hosts will sneak it. Score prediction: 1-0 home win Brentford vs. Birmingham City Brentford have bounced back from their two consecutive defeats with a draw and a win, and at Griffin Park they have lost just once in their last 15. Meanwhile Birmingham's brief revival, with two consecutive wins, was followed up by two consecutive losses, and a failure to score in 16 league games does not bode well for them. Score prediction: 2-0 home win Middlesbrough vs. Hull City Boro are desperate to edge back into playoff contention but they're very inconsistent at present, going into this game on the back of defeat to Cardiff City and with just three wins from their last eight. Hull did win at Nottingham Forest last time out in the league and may fancy their chances but Boro have been decent against the league's weaker sides and so I tip the hosts to win. Score prediction: 2-1 home win Sheffield Wednesday vs. Millwall Wednesday go in search of back-to-back league victories for the first time under Jos Luhukay, having done superbly to beat Derby County 2-0 last time out. Millwall are in great form, however, unbeaten in their last six league games, and combined with the Owls' penchant for clean sheets, I fancy this to end as a goalless draw. Score prediction: 0-0 draw Nottingham Forest vs. Reading Both these two sides are horribly out of form, their last 11 league games yielding seven losses and just one win apiece. However, the Reds have more injury issues than the Royals, who have enjoyed a training break in Spain, so I reckon the visitors' freshness will count at the City Ground. Score prediction: 0-2 away win Sheffield United vs. Queens Park Rangers The Blades go into this game on the back of a win over Leeds United but their previously impressive form has gone patchy, with two wins, two losses and two draws from their last six. QPR have improved in recent weeks and are now getting wins on board, putting them 11 points clear of the bottom three, but I still fancy the hosts to have just enough to get all three points. Score prediction: 2-1 home win Bolton Wanderers vs. Sunderland (8pm GMT) The second of two relegation six-pointers this evening, Bolton are just two points clear of the bottom three and, although they've shown that they're capable of getting the odd good result, they go into this game on the back of two consecutive 2-0 losses. That said, they were both away - they've been better at home, and playing against a side struggling in the drop zone and whose form has taken a downturn, with three defeats in their last four, I think the hosts will have enough to see the Black Cats off. Score prediction: 3-1 home win Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  6. We're edging closer to the business end of the season in the Championship and this Saturday brings forth a host of tasty fixtures which will go just a little further to determining the final outcome of the campaign. How will these fixtures pan out? Football Manics takes a closer look. Sunderland vs. Brentford Second-from-bottom Sunderland's recent form continues to be poor, with four defeats in their last six, although they go into this game on the back of a draw at Bristol City and could have Callum McManaman, Paddy McNair, Jonny WIlliams and Lamine Kone back. Brentford, meanwhile, have suffered a downturn in form and are winless in their last three league games, having won five of their previous six, though they remain a dangerous side and will harbour outside hopes of the playoffs. Both sides will fancy their chances here, given that Brentford are suffering a blip and Sunderland remain in poor form, but for me, the Bees will have too much for their opponents. Score prediction: 1-3 away win Cardiff City vs. Middlesbrough Cardiff's form remains up and down, their last six games reading LWDWDW, but they could be boosted by the possible return of striker Gary Madine from a broken nose. Boro's form is equally topsy-turvy, reading WLWDLW, and they will be waiting on the fitness of former Bluebirds Rudy Gestede and Fabio Da Silva. The two sides' up-and-down form makes this an incredibly unpredictable game and one which both sides will desperately want to win, given their respective automatic promotion and playoff hopes, and for me it'll end as a draw. Score prediction: 2-2 draw Burton Albion vs. Nottingham Forest Since beating Sheffield Wednesday on New Year's Day, Burton have failed to win any of their last five league games, losing four and conceding 15 goals in the process, to remain bottom of the Championship. However, Forest aren't in good nick either - since beating Wolves, they have since lost their following three games to go into the game at the Pirelli Stadium just seven points clear of the bottom three. Forest have also failed to score in seven of their last eight Championship matches, so Burton will fancy their chances, but at the same time I think the Reds will have just enough to get all three points. Score prediction: 0-2 away win Birmingham City vs. Millwall Birmingham have enjoyed an upturn in form in recent weeks, though they go into this game on the back of a derby defeat to Aston Villa - who in all fairness have been sensational recently - and remain hovering just above the bottom three. Millwall, meanwhile, have not lost in their last five games, claiming two wins and three draws to give them a good base upon which to build at St Andrew's. Another difficult game to call, I think the Lions - who beat the Blues 2-0 at The Den in October - will manage to complete the double over the West Midlanders. Score prediction: 0-1 away win Preston North End vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers Each of the last three league meetings between these teams at Deepdale have ended as draws, with two of those ending goalless, but Wolves have won their last two meetings against Preston. The Lilywhites are in good form, unbeaten in five and with two wins from their last three as they seek to break into the playoffs, but Nuno's men have won their last three since the setback at Forest. Given how Wolves have returned to form since their warm weather training camp and will be desperate to keep Villa at bay, I tip the visitors to win. Score prediction: 0-2 away win Queens Park Rangers vs. Bolton Wanderers Just six points separate 16th-placed QPR and 19th-placed Bolton, who continue to look over their shoulders at the bottom three, just two points further back. QPR are another of those win-one-week-lose-the-next teams, having narrowly lost to Wolves last time out but beaten Barnsley - and before that, losses to Bristol City and Middlesbrough. Bolton are capable of scraping the odd win here and there, but QPR seem to do well against the weaker teams in the division, not to mention the Whites claiming just 8 points on the road, so for me it's a home win. Score prediction: 3-1 home win Fulham vs. Aston Villa The Championship's most in-form teams collide at Craven Cottage, with Fulham boasting five wins and a draw from their last six and Villa boasting a full house of 21 points from 21. Fulham's home record is especially superb and, should they beat Steve Bruce's side, will have won seven in a row at home for the first time since 2000. Villa's seven-game winning run in the league, meanwhile, is their best since 1990. They last won eight league games in a row in April 1975 under Ron Saunders when they won promotion back to the top flight. Who will triumph in West London? Hard to call, once again, but I think Villa are unstoppable at the minute and I fancy them to nick it. Score prediction: 1-2 away win Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  7. Just two Championship games tonight but they are significant ones as automatic promotion chasers Cardiff City and Derby County seek to move up the table, while Bolton Wanderers and Sheffield Wednesday will be looking over their shoulders as they look to edge further away from the bottom three. How will these games pan out? Football Manics takes a closer look with this preview. Cardiff City vs. Bolton Wanderers Cardiff are unbeaten in four league games since a run of four consecutive defeats, going into this game on the back of a 1-1 draw at Millwall, and will be desperate for a win to try and cut the gap between themselves and second-placed Aston Villa to one point. Likewise, unbeaten-in-three Bolton will want a win at the Cardiff City Stadium to put further distance between themselves and the bottom three, but their away record in the league is poor, collecting just eight points on the road. In terms of head to head, Cardiff haven't kept a league clean sheet against Bolton since January 1989, conceding in all nine matches since, and only one of the last 20 meetings between these teams in all competitions has ended as a draw. Neil Warnock's record against Bolton isn't tremendously good - just one win in his last seven meetings - and Phil Parkinson has got the better of him in their last three meetings, but at the same time I think the Bluebirds will probably have just enough to beat the Whites. Score prediction: 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday vs. Derby County Wednesday continue to struggle under new boss Jos Luhukay and remain winless in seven, though four of their last five have been draws so there is at least a platform to build on, even if losing to Birmingham City and drawing with Barnsley are hardly ideal results. As for Derby, they are now unbeaten in 12 but they have drawn four of their last six and, with Aston Villa winning their last seven, the Rams have slipped off second spot, a position they can reclaim with victory at Hillsborough. Derby's defence is a particularly strong point - they have only conceded just two Championship goals in 2018, fewer than any other side. However, they may be missing Curtis Davies, George Thorne and Matej Vydra as they picked up knocks against Norwich. The Owls will be hoping to finally break their duck under Luhukay and, with Atdhe Nuhiu in such good form, they should be a match for Gary Rowett's side, and I think this will end in a draw. Score prediction: 1-1 Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  8. Part 1 of the Football Manics Championship gameweek 31 preview focuses on the likes of Millwall's Friday night meeting with Cardiff City, Derby County's clash with Norwich City, and the two Yorkshire derbies. How will the action unfold? Let's take a closer look. Millwall vs. Cardiff City Millwall are in a good run of form in the league, with two wins and two draws from their last five, plus they are a tough nut to crack at The Den, having only lost four of their last 35 home matches in all competitions. Cardiff, however, have put their recent blip behind them, with resounding victories over Sunderland and Leeds United, plus a goalless draw at Sheffield Wednesday, and if anyone knows how to handle an intimidating environment, it'll be a Neil Warnock-managed side. I expect it will be a fiercely contested game between two physical, intense sides, with the final outcome a share of the spoils. Score prediction: 2-2 Barnsley vs. Sheffield Wednesday It's not a good time for Barnsley at present, having lost their last four league games on the trot and seeing Paul Heckingbottom leave to join Leeds United just a week after penning a new contract at Oakwell. Wednesday are in even worse form, however, with just one win from their last 14 league games, though seven draws in that time have kept them afloat above the drop zone. The Owls' last three away games in all competitions ended goalless but given how beleaguered Barnsley are at the moment, I fancy them to nick a goal and win this derby. Score prediction: 0-1 Sheffield United vs. Leeds United Another Yorkshire derby with a lunchtime-ish kickoff, both sides are fairly well placed in the standings but are both out of form, Sheff Utd with two wins from their last 13 and Leeds winless in their last six. The history favours the Blades, who haven't lost at home to Leeds since April 1992, and are unbeaten in their last 17 Yorkshire derbies, although they will be missing goalkeeper Simon Moore due to suspension. It's a baptism of fire for new Leeds boss Paul Heckingbottom, with both sides desperate to get back on form and into the playoffs, but I fancy the spoils to be shared. Score prediction: 1-1 Brentford vs. Preston North End The Bees are in a strange vein of form, their last eight games yielding five wins and three losses without a single draw, but they go into this match looking to avoid a third defeat on the trot. Preston have made a name for themselves as a solid side on the road - indeed, only the current top two Wolves (33) and Derby (27) have won more away Championship points this season than the Whites (24). With both sides missing key players in Sergi Canos and Ben Pearson, it'll be a fairly even game but I fancy Preston to emerge victorious. Score prediction: 0-2 Bolton Wanderers vs. Fulham Bolton are very much on the up, having won three and drawn one of their last five, but they're up against one of the most in-form sides boasting one of the best players in the league. Fulham have collected more points across their last 10 league matches than any other Championship side, including five wins on the spin, and Ryan Sessegnon continues to sparkle for his side, his talents recognised with the January Player of the Month award and its PFA counterpart. As such, I expect Slavisa Jokanovic's charges to come through their trip to the Macron Stadium with all three points, even if Bolton did earn a very good win against Bristol City last time out. Score prediction: 1-2 Derby County vs. Norwich City The Rams are in a rich vein of form, unbeaten in 11 league matches and in the automatic promotion spots, while striker Matej Vydra is the Championship's leading scorer with 16 goals. Norwich are also doing well at the moment, with five wins from their last seven games, and in terms of head to head, Nelson Oliveira has scored four goals in two Championship starts against Derby, including a hat-trick in January 2017. That said, the Canaries have kept just one clean sheet in their last 10 league matches against the Rams, and with the hosts in such good form, I fancy them to emerge victorious. Score prediction: 2-0 To check out part 2 of our Championship gameweek 31 preview, click here. Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  9. Another weekend, another full programme of Championship fixtures, with plenty of twists and turns along the way. How will these fixtures pan out? Football Manics takes a closer look. Derby County vs. Bristol City Despite being just three places apart in the table, second-placed Derby remain in great form and are defensively sound, while the Robins have lost their last three league games (including a 5-0 hammering at Aston Villa). With the second league of the EFL Cup semi-final on Tuesday, I imagine both Lee Johnson and his players will be more focused on that game, and I fancy the Rams to take full advantage. Score prediction: 3-1 Bolton Wanderers vs. Ipswich Town Bolton are showing signs of improvement, with three wins from their last five edging them outside the bottom three, while Ipswich have won just one of their last five and have been struggling away from home recently. Given the Whites' upturn in form, plus the recent impressive displays from Gary Madine, I reckon the hosts will claim all three points against Mick McCarthy's men. Score prediction: 2-0 Leeds United vs. Millwall After scoring in 12 successive league games, Leeds are without a goal in their last three games, the results of which were two defeats and a draw, a worrying downturn in form. The Lions, however, are the only side in the Championship yet to win away from home this season, having drawn six and lost seven of their 13 games on the road in 2017-18, so it's the ideal opportunity for the hosts to get back to winning ways. Score prediction: 2-1 Preston North End vs. Birmingham City Preston's current form is rather mediocre at present but they have lost just one of their last five Championship home games, while Birmingham remain in the bottom three having followed up two wins with a 3-0 humbling by Derby. A tricky one to call, I'll remain conservative and predict a draw which will do little for either side - if we look at history, Steve Cotterill has never won at Deepdale and Brum have only won once in 16 league visits there. Score prediction: 0-0 Queens Park Rangers vs. Middlesbrough QPR have won their last two on the spin and their recent record reads DDLWW, a good platform for Ian Holloway to build on with his side now nicely clear of the bottom three. However, Boro will be a tough proposition - they have lost two of their last three but they're seeking a third successive win on the road and I think their quality will show at Loftus Road. Score prediction: 0-2 Norwich City vs. Sheffield United Norwich have improved in recent weeks and boast three wins and a draw in their last four to keep their playoff hopes alive - indeed, Norwich have picked up 10 points from a possible 12 since Christmas, winning just one of the previous 10 beforehand. United, meanwhile, have managed just one win in their last 10 Championship fixtures, and that was at home to Sunderland, so I'm expecting the Canaries to triumph in this game. Score prediction: 2-1 Sunderland vs. Hull City Sunderland remain rock bottom of the table, having lost three of their last four - indeed, they have scored just once in their five games since Christmas in all competitions. Not that Hull are having a much better time though - they have scored in just one of their last six Championship games and have only won once in their last 14 games, so I'll opt for a stalemate (watch it finish 4-3 now). Score prediction: 0-0 Aston Villa vs. Barnsley Promotion-chasing Villa are seeking a fourth win on the bounce and will face an inconsistent side struggling in the lower reaches of the the table. Since their 3-1 win at Villa Park in February 2017, Barnsley have won just four of their last 20 away games in the Championship, and given how much improved the hosts will be, this is a home banker for me. Score prediction: 2-0 Reading vs. Brentford The Royals are without a win in their last seven games in the Championship, scoring just two goals in their last six, and have won just two of their last 11 league home games. In contrast, Brentford have won four of their last five league games, scoring exactly twice in each of those victories, so for me, the Bees have this in the bag. Score prediction: 1-3 Fulham vs. Burton Albion Fulham have picked up 13 points from a possible 15 in their last five league games and will be hoping to avenge their defeat to Burton in September. After winning just one of their opening 10 Championship away games this season, the Brewers are on a run of three successive victories on the road, so it won't be straightforward - a draw for me. Score prediction: 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Nottingham Forest Wolves lost to Swansea in the FA Cup earlier this week but they will be welcoming back most of their regulars, who have helped the team to the top of the Championship with just one defeat in their last 17 league fixtures and a 13-match unbeaten league run. Forest's FA Cup win over Arsenal, impressive as it was, masked the fact they're on a poor run of form in the league, without a win from their last six games, and I expect a strong Wolves side to get the better of them at Molineux. Score prediction: 3-1 Sheffield Wednesday vs. Cardiff City New Owls manager Jos Luhukay steered his side to a goalless draw in the Steel City derby last time out and will be hoping to build on it as he bids to edge his side further away from the bottom three. Cardiff, meanwhile, ended a four-game losing streak last time out with their 4-0 win over Sunderland, although the Bluebirds have lost two successive games on the road, last winning in November. It'll be a fiery game, with pantomime villain and boyhood Blades fan Neil Warnock in charge of the visitors, and I fancy the points to be shared. Score prediction: 1-1 Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  10. Here we are at matchday 25 of the Championship, the final one of 2017. The table has already shaped up nicely but who will enjoy a happy New Year's Eve? Football Manics previews all 12 fixtures. Kickoff Saturday 3pm unless otherwise specified. Cardiff City vs. Preston North End (Fri, 7:45pm) Cardiff have lost ground on table-topping Wolves and been overtaken by Bristol City in second after back-to-back losses against Bolton and Fulham, so Neil Warnock will be desperate to get his side back on track. Preston have gone eight matches unbeaten and stand to go seventh - just a point behind Sheffield United - should they win in Wales, but they have a number of injury concerns. Although the Lilywhites have been in great form, I reckon Cardiff will have been given a big kick up the backside by Warnock and, in front of their own fans, get the win. Score prediction: 2-1 Millwall vs. Queens Park Rangers (Fri, 7:45pm) Millwall claimed a creditable draw against Wolves at The Den last time out and will be hoping to build on it against a QPR side slowly returning to form, though they may be without Conor McLaughlin and Tom Elliott. The R's, who will be without the suspended Josh Scowen, have won one and drawn two of their last three but have collected only one win from their last 19 away games in the Championship. The Den is an intimidating arena and it's likely to be even more so given it's a East vs West London clash, plus with QPR struggling away, I fancy Millwall to come up trumps. Score prediction: 1-0 Barnsley vs. Reading Paul Heckingbottom's side are currently on the longest winless run in the Championship, having not won any of their last nine games in the competition. Reading's form has also taken a tumble in recent weeks, falling to three straight defeats and without a win in four. Barnsley are too close to the bottom three for comfort while Reading will also be looking over their shoulders, but I fancy the visitors to have enough quality to earn a win. Score prediction: 1-3 Birmingham City vs. Leeds United Bottom side Birmingham will be boosted by the return of striker Sam Gallagher from suspension as they look for a first win in eight league matches. Leeds playmaker Samu Saiz will return for the trip to the Midlands after missing the last two games with a calf problem for a side with the best form in the league, boasting five wins and a draw from their last six. Worst recent form against best recent form - would it be too obvious to guess an away win or is this the archetypal coupon-buster? I'm going to stick my neck out and go for a draw. Score prediction: 1-1 Brentford vs. Sheffield Wednesday Brentford, who could back Ollie Watkins and Alan Judge to the XI, have lost just twice in their last 16 games and are unbeaten at home in their last 10. The managerless Owls, meanwhile, are looking to record back-to-back away victories in the Championship for the first time since April, when they won their final three away trips of 2016-17. Griffin Park has established itself as a bit of a fortress and Wednesday, despite being free of the ineffective Carlos Carvalhal, may not have enough in them to come away with a win. Score prediction: 0-0 Burton Albion vs. Norwich City Luke Murphy, who was ineligible against parent club Leeds, returns to contention for Burton as they attempt to halt a run of eight straight home defeats against Norwich. The Canaries, meanwhile, will check on midfielder Wes Hoolahan and forward Cameron Jerome who both missed the Boxing Day win at Birmingham as they bid to put their inconsistent recent form behind them and claim back-to-back victories. Burton are definitely a League One side playing in the Championship and I think Norwich will have just enough to sneak away with victory at the Pirelli Stadium. Score prediction: 0-1 Hull City vs. Fulham Hull leading scorer Jarrod Bowen is nearing full fitness and could be utilised to try and help the Tigers, with just one win in their last 10, edge further away from danger. Slavisa Jokanovic's side, meanwhile, are looking to record three consecutive Championship wins for the first time since April and could have Aboubakar Kamara available again. Fulham have beaten Hull twice in 2017 already and I fancy them to get a hat-trick, Nigel Adkins having failed to build on his debut win over Brentford thus far. Score prediction: 0-2 Ipswich Town vs. Derby County Ipswich are set to be without Teddy Bishop for the visit of Derby because of a hamstring injury, but Kevin Bru, Cole Skuse, Flynn Downes and Tom Adeyemi could be back as the Blues seek to get back to winning ways. Derby will be a tough opponent, however, with four wins and a draw from their last five games and no goals conceded in that time. Incidentally, the last win to get a goal and a win over the Rams was Ipswich, winning 1-0 at Pride Park, but I feel the momentum is with Derby now and back them to win. Score prediction: 1-3 Middlesbrough vs. Aston Villa Tony Pulis takes charge of his first Boro match against an Aston Villa side woefully out of form. The Teessiders have three wins and three defeats from their last six, while Villa have three draws and two losses from their last five. Hard to call but given the visitors' injury woes and bad form, plus the new manager effect for Boro and playing at home, I fancy the hosts to edge it. Score prediction: 2-1 Nottingham Forest vs. Sunderland An inconsistent side struggling for form takes on a team who has been woeful for most of the season but is showing signs of revival. Forest, who are expected to have ex-Mackem Daryl Murphy back against his former club, have just one win in their last six, though they've triumphed in five of the last seven on home turf. Sunderland, meanwhile, lost at Sheffield United last time out but now have two wins and two draws from their last six and I expect them to get something at the City Ground. Score prediction: 2-2 Sheffield United vs. Bolton Wanderers The Blades arrested a woeful run of form with a 3-0 hammering of Sunderland last time out and will be desperate to keep that run going against another struggling side. Although Bolton remain in the bottom three, they are more than capable of notching up wins, with two in their last five including against Cardiff. However, United have scored at least once in each of their last eight home games while Bolton are winless on the road, so I fancy the hosts to come through unscathed. Score prediction: 2-0 Bristol City vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers (Sat, 5:30pm) And here is the final Championship match of 2017, the surprise high-flyers of the season against the rich, powerful table-toppers. Both sides are in superb form, City winning seven and drawing two of their last 10 and Wolves winning eight and drawing two. Wolves, however, have won more points away from home than any other Championship team this season (26) so I reckon they'll finish their 2017 with a bang. Score prediction: 1-3 Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  11. Here we are at gameweek 23, the exact halfway point of the Championship season and the last set of fixtures before Christmas. How will the table shape up at the midway point of the campaign? Football Manics takes a look. All fixtures Saturday 3pm kickoff unless otherwise stated. Norwich City vs. Brentford (Friday, 7:45pm) First up this weekend is tonight's meeting between a below-par Norwich side and an inconsistent Brentford outfit. The Canaries have lost six and won just one of their last nine fixtures to slip to 16th in the table, with reports of Daniel Farke's training methods being too much for the players. Brentford, meanwhile, have won just one of their last six and their ability to hold onto a lead is under scrutiny, having lost a league-high 21 points from winning positions this season. Score prediction: 1-2 Bolton Wanderers vs. Cardiff City A meeting between two sides at different ends of the table, Bolton stopped the rot with a win over Barnsley a few weeks ago but they haven't built on it. The Trotters have conceded the highest proportion of their opponents' shots in the Championship this season (14.2%), while Cardiff have conceded the lowest (6.8%). Although the Bluebirds (and Neil Warnock) haven't got a good record over Bolton, I fancy the away manager to claim his first win at the Macron Stadium with his team in such good form. Score prediction: 1-3 Fulham vs. Barnsley The Cottagers will be hoping to bounce back from last week's loss to Sunderland, a team that hadn't won at home in over a year, as well as a record of three wins in their last 11 games. A home game against Barnsley, the team boasting the worst form in the division, should in theory be a straightforward assignment, but with the Tykes having been taken over, morale among their players and fans could be much improved. That said, I fancy Fulham to have the edge over their opponents and claim all three points. Score prediction: 1-0 Leeds United vs. Hull City Leeds have scored in every one of their last 10 league games and if they score in this match, they'll equal the longest-such record seen in the division this season - set by the day's opponents between September and November. Nigel Adkins's side lost last week against Cardiff and playoff-chasing Leeds are another tough proposition, especially given Hull's lengthy injury list. The Tigers have conceded a league-high 16 goals in the final 15 minutes of matches this season and, up against a Leeds side that knows where the goal is, I fancy the hosts to emerge victorious. Score prediction: 2-1 Preston North End vs. Nottingham Forest Preston have an outside chance of sneaking into the playoffs should they beat an inconsistent Forest side and other results go their way. The Lilywhites have won four of their last five - the other was a draw - so they're in good form, while the Reds could fall to their fifth away league defeat in a row. I can see this game being a potential coupon-buster, however, so I'm going to go for a draw. Score prediction: 1-1 Queens Park Rangers vs. Bristol City QPR's horrendous run came to an end with victory at Birmingham City last weekend and Ian Holloway could stick with the same starting XI. Bristol City, meanwhile, have a clean bill of health and go into this game on the back of an exhilarating win over Manchester United in the EFL Cup. Will the Robins use the momentum of the victory over Jose Mourinho's side to keep up their good work in the league this season and win at Loftus Road, or will the return to the grind be exploited by QPR? I think it'll be a case of the former. Score prediction: 0-2 Reading vs. Burton Albion The Royals' recent form is decent, with two wins, three draws and a defeat in the last six, but they have 13 points fewer than this time last year when they finished third, so questions might be asked of Jaap Stam's progress with the squad. Burton, meanwhile, continue to labour in the division given the lack of resources compared to the rest of the teams in the league, but are boosted from a 1-0 win at Bolton in their last Championship away game. However, I still fancy Reading to have too much for their opponents, so for me it's a home win. Score prediction: 2-0 Sheffield Wednesday vs. Middlesbrough Carlos Carvalhal is surely on borrowed time, with the Owls in such terrible form at present - no win in six and two defeats in a row, not befitting a side aiming for the playoffs. Boro aren't faring much better, with their early season promise hindered by a failure to get a good winning run going. I can see the crowd at Hillsborough getting restless quickly though, especially if Boro strike first, and I fancy the visitors to leave with all three points. Score prediction: 1-3 Sunderland vs. Birmingham City Chris Coleman's spell at Sunderland has so far yielded very positive results, including a first home win in nearly a year and a surge out of the bottom three. In contrast, Birmingham's appointment of Steve Cotterill has failed to reap rewards, the Blues sitting bottom of the table having lost their last three and four of the last five. It'll probably be a tight and nervy game but I expect a rejuvenated Sunderland - team and fans - to win at a buzzing Stadium of Light. Score prediction: 2-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Ipswich Town Wolves continue to lead the table, having overcome their draw with Sunderland to beat Sheffield Wednesday last time out to stay four points ahead of Cardiff. Ipswich continue to blow hot and cold but they're still very much in playoff contention, though their form on the road hasn't been great - 12 away defeats this calendar year. I expect that to continue, with Nuno Espirito Santo's high-quality side to see off inconsistent opposition. Score prediction: 3-1 Aston Villa vs. Sheffield United (Saturday, 5:30pm) The final Championship game before Christmas, Villa will be desperate to arrest a three-game winless run as their automatic promotion hopes continue to fade away. United's form has taken a tumble in recent weeks, with three defeats in a row and no wins since mid-November's victory at struggling Burton, though like Villa, they remain in playoff contention. The Blades haven't kept a clean sheet in the Champ since mid-October so, even though Villa have personnel problems, I fancy them to claim all three points. Score prediction: 2-1 Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  12. 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 Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  13. We're edging ever closer to the halfway point of the season and into the festive period, which means a feast of football that will make your eventual turkey indulgence seem tame in comparison. Matchday 21 of the Championship is nearly upon us, so let's have a quick glance at this weekend's fixtures and have a go at predicting the results (kickoffs Saturday 3pm unless otherwise stated). Sheffield United vs. Bristol City (Friday, 7:45pm) First up is a very tasty Friday night clash between fourth-placed Sheffield United and third-placed Bristol City. Both sides exceeding early-season expectations, both like to attack - although City's recent form has been better than United's - so I'm going for a score draw. Score prediction: 2-2 Hull City vs. Brentford Nigel Adkins' first match in charge of Hull, he needs to get an immediate reaction from his demoralised players against a team doing well for themselves and having rebounded from their collapse at QPR with victory over Fulham. Dean Smith's side to edge it. Score prediction: 1-2 Fulham vs. Birmingham City Both sides are in the middle of an injury crisis and not having the best time in the league at present, but with Birmingham playing away, languishing in the drop zone and potentially in need of drafting in the under-23s, it should be straightforward for Fulham. Score prediction: 2-0 Barnsley vs. Derby County Barnsley have lost their last four on the bounce and haven't won in five, plus captain Angus MacDonald is still ill and unlikely to feature. Derby have no fresh injury concerns and should have too much for the beleaguered Tykes. Score prediction: 1-3 Nottingham Forest vs. Bolton Wanderers Forest come into this game on the back of two league defeats, conceding four at Ipswich, while Bolton claimed three very valuable points against Barnsley last time out. That said, I see the Reds edging this with Kieran Dowell to play a key role. Score prediction: 1-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Sunderland A team flush with cash, quality players and a top manager who bagged the MOTM award for November against a side bereft of money, quality and morale. Chris Coleman may be overseeing some shoots of recovery but away at Molineux, I can't see them getting anything. Score prediction: 3-0 Burton Albion vs. Preston North End As if things weren't difficult enough for bottom-placed Burton already, their injury woes show no sign of letting up, with Lloyd Dyer, Sean Scannell, Matty Lund and Joe Mason all doubts, while Jamie Allen has been given time off due to a family bereavement. Preston, meanwhile, are welcoming players back - should be a routine win for them. Score prediction: 0-2 Middlesbrough vs. Ipswich Town Despite the quality in their squad, Boro's form has taken a downturn and they're off the playoff pace, having lost three of their last four, with Ipswich above them in the table. The Blues have won their last two so they'll be fancying this, but I think they'll cancel each other out. Score prediction: 0-0 Aston Villa vs. Milwall Villa's automatic promotion hopes are in danger of slipping away, with Wolves and Cardiff now well ahead in the top two, despite Steve Bruce's side still very much in good form. They're desperate to keep chasing and a game against Millwall, yet to win on the road this season, is very much a home banker, despite Villa's injury issues. Score prediction: 2-0 Queens Park Rangers vs. Leeds United QPR have only picked up one point from their last five games - and that from two goals down against Brentford - and are in danger of slipping further towards the drop zone, while Leeds will be eager to bounce back from their failure to beat Aston Villa, and I reckon they'll pile more misery on Ian Holloway and co. Score prediction: 2-3 Norwich City vs. Sheffield Wednesday (Saturday 5:30pm) Norwich's form is one of the worst in the division, having been in playoff contention at the end of October but are now closer to the bottom three than the top six. Wednesday are in the middle of an unbeaten run but four draws have also seen them slip downwards. More of the same for both sides I reckon. Score prediction: 1-1 Reading vs. Cardiff City (Monday 8pm) The final fixture of gameweek 21, Neil Warnock's side will be hoping to keep up the pressure on Wolves away at Reading. Both sides are unbeaten in their last four and the Bluebirds are hoping to extend their winning run to five. Warnock's experience plus a team in brilliant form means Cardiff should be able to get the better of Jaap Stam's side. Score prediction: 1-2 Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  14. Simon Grayson's sacking as manager of Sunderland has been criticised by Middlesbrough boss Garry Monk and Bolton Wanderers boss Phil Parkinson. The former Preston North end manager took over at the Stadium of Light in June following the club's relegation from the Premier League but could only guide them to one win in 15 league games. The Black Cats' 3-3 draw at home to basement side Bolton on Tuesday night proved Grayson's last game in charge, being shown the door just 16 minutes after the final whistle. "I'm gutted for Simon," Monk told reporters after Boro's 3-1 win at Hull City. "Simon's a great manager, and a really good guy as well. "Especially at this level, I don't really understand the decision. Everyone knew what he was going to be walking into. "It was always going to be extremely difficult, and it was always going to be a transition season for Sunderland. "There was no better man to take that job. Does football surprise you? Not really. But in terms of what's happened, it's a bit mind-boggling for me. "Simon was the perfect candidate and I feel for him. It's not a nice thing, and it's undeserved if we're all honest about it." Parkinson, meanwhile said of Grayson: "I feel for Simon, he is a tremendous manager with a great record if you look through his career. "Anybody who came into this club was going to find it a tough challenge to turn it around, I have had it at Bolton last season. "Changing the mentality around is difficult, he has obviously found it tough but will be back in management sooner rather than later. There will be a lot of people who will want him on board, for sure. "I just shook hands with him at the end. We normally go for a drink with the opposition manager but we will get on the coach and I will give him a call later in the week." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  15. Bolton Wanderers have confirmed that their transfer embargo has been lifted by the EFL. The club had been unable to register new players either on loan or permanent deals since December 2015. During this time, they were relegated to League One, but bounced back up to the Championship, where they currently play. Bolton owner Ken Anderson told the official club site: "I am delighted to be able to tell you all that we are now out of the transfer embargo. "We will now be able to register several of our existing players and I am pleased to tell you that Jeff King and Alex Perry will be the first to be registered so that they are now available for future selection in the First Team. "I feel sure that other promising players will soon join them. As has been widely reported a number of 'Free Agent' players are currently training with us, with a view to getting a contract. "I would like to thank you all for the patience you have shown during this time. The situation has taken far longer to rectify than I had imagined, largely due to the much-publicised ownership situation which has thankfully now been resolved. "This is another positive step in the right direction and I trust that you will all continue to get behind Phil Parkinson, his staff and the players for the remainder of the campaign." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  16. League Cup holders Manchester United have been drawn to face Championship outfit Burton Albion at Old Trafford in the third round of the competition. In the draw, held controversially in Beijing at 4:15am BST, Liverpool were handed an away tie at former Premier League champions Leicester City, while Arsenal host Doncaster Rovers of League One. The lowest-ranked team in the draw, third-tier Bristol Rovers, will travel to Molineux to face Championship side Wolverhampton Wanderers, who beat last season's runners-up Southampton on Wednesday evening. Other bumper ties include Manchester City's visit West Bromwich Albion, Chelsea hosting Nottingham Forest and Tottenham Hotspur to face either Barnsley or Derby County at Wembley. The ties will be played in the week beginning September 18. The competition is currently named the Carabao Cup for sponsorship reasons and is also known as the EFL Cup. EFL Cup third round draw: West Bromwich Albion vs. Manchester City Everton vs. Sunderland Leicester City vs. Liverpool Manchester United vs. Burton Albion Brentford vs. Norwich City Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Bristol Rovers Burnley vs. Leeds United Arsenal vs. Doncaster Rovers Bristol City vs. Stoke City Reading vs. Swansea City Aston Villa vs. Middlesbrough Chelsea vs. Nottingham Forest West Ham vs. Bolton Wanderers Crystal Palace vs. Huddersfield Town Tottenham Hotspur vs. Barnsley/Derby County Bournemouth vs. Brighton Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  17. Promotion Contenders Middlesbrough Garry Monk's charges have been tipped to make an immediate return to the Premier League following relegation last year. Their defence was impressive last season - just the attack let them down big time. Boro might struggle to hang on to Ben Gibson - if they do it would be a major coup - but even without him, they should be able to cope against attacking forces which are nowhere near top-flight standard, while up front, the acquisitions of Britt Assombalonga, Martin Braithwaite and Ashley Fletcher should finally address their lacklustre attacking power. Aston Villa Now in their second season in the second tier, Villa were expected to bounce back last year but had a very poor campaign. This time round, Steve Bruce - a veteran of Championship football - is eager to make amends, and with some impressive signings such as Chris Samba, Ahmed Elmohamady and Glenn Whelan, not to mention the acquisition of a certain John Terry, to go alongside an already impressive team which lost their way last season but will be back on the straight and narrow under Bruce, they are highly fancied for the top two. Wolverhampton Wanderers Owned by Chinese firm Fosun, the Wolves summer recruitment drive has been nothing short of stellar. Ruben Neves was being tipped for a Premier League top-seven club, but instead signed for Wolves for a £15.8m fee. Several other marquee foreign signings - Roderick Miranda, Pedro Goncalves, Willy Boly - have been tempered with shrewd acquisitions from England, such as Ryan Bennett and John Ruddy. It remains to be seen how quickly they gel, but if they manage it, they will be right up there. Relegation Battlers Burton Albion The smallest team in the Championship, with the smallest budget, is always going to be tipped for a relegation battle. The Brewers upset the odds last season to survive and have signed several seasoned players such as Stephen Warnock, Luke Murphy and Jake Buxton, but whether they will be able to add enough quality to the current squad and give it enough of a boost to survive again, it doesn't seem the case. Barnsley Barnsley had an impressive season last time out, finishing 14th on 58 points, but they have lost several key men this year, and with such a big influx of new signings, many of whom have never played at this level before, Paul Heckingbottom's managerial skills will be tested to the limit in order to make the squad gel and keep it competing week in, week out. Bolton Wanderers It was something of a miracle that Bolton were promoted last season, given they were hamstrung by a transfer embargo, and Phil Parkinson continues to work with one arm tied behind his back, given his 23-man embargo quota. Some decent signings have been made - Josh Cullen and Reece Burke from West Ham should impress - but most of the squad may not be up to second-tier standard. Millwall The Lions finished sixth in League One last season and just about creeped over the line to promotion in the playoffs, but they may well be caught short in the Championship. Neil Harris is a novice at this level, the playing budget is small, and key man Steve Morison turns 34 in August, so the stage seems set for a tough season at the Den. Share your thoughts about this Championship season preview on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  18. West Ham United duo Reece Burke and Josh Cullen have joined Bolton Wanderers on loan until January. The move sees both players reunited with Trotters boss Phil Parkinson, who also took them on loan during his time in charge of Bradford City. Burke spent last season at Championship side Wigan Athletic, while Cullen helped Bradford reach the League One playoff final. "It was an easy decision for me as I've worked with the gaffer before and I really enjoyed it," Burke told Bolton's official website. "He's a good coach and I worked well with him and the coaching staff. I think I enjoyed one of my best seasons with them before. Hopefully they bring out the best in me this season as well." Cullen added: "It's brilliant to be here and I'm raring to go. The gaffer is a big part in me coming here. I got good experience with him at Bradford and feel I improved as a player. "I'm now coming to a Championship club and looking to make the next step. Hopefully we can kick on and go on to have a successful season." Parkinson, meanwhile, said: "We've worked with Reece and Josh before and are very pleased to get them on board. "We'd like to thank West Ham and Slaven Billic for sending the boys up to us at the start of the week because that's important for our preparation for the first game of the season. "They are good characters but more importantly good players. They'll add a lot of quality to the squad and have a desire to show everybody that they can play at this level." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  19. Bolton Wanderers manager Phil Parkinson has claimed that automatic promotion to the Championship marks the transition to a more stable future for his side. The Trotters returned to the second tier with a 3-0 victory over Peterborough United at the Macron Stadium on Sunday, just one season after they were relegated to League One for the first time in 23 years. "I'm absolutely delighted. To perform as well as we did on a big day like today, I'm so proud of the boys," Parkinson told Sky Sports News. "It means a lot to so many people in the club and the club's had some tough times over the last few years. "This is a great day for us and this has got to be the start of the club building back and putting the platform in place to take us forward again. It's a great day for us. "I think the spirit of the lads, when we went away in pre-season we kind of detected the lads had galvanised together through the adversity of last year. "They've pulled together all year and they're a really good group to work with. We've pulled together and I'm just so proud of every one today to get the job done. "We've had lots of things thrown as us through the year and we've just kept our heads down to concentrate on what we've had to do week in week out and we've got our rewards in the end. "The club's in a good position now to go forward and we've had some troubled times but what a day for everyone at Bolton today. "Enormous credit to Ken Anderson, the chairman, for what he's done because this was a big job to take on for him as well as myself and the staff and he's handled the club really well. "I think this has got to be the start of something that builds the club back up again." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  20. 1) Coventry City Problems at Coventry City can be traced back all the way to the late 90s. It was during that time when the owners began spending more money on players' fees and transfers than they could afford to. However, one of the biggest decision which ultimately led to the demise of Coventry City was the clubs decision to leave Highfield Road for the Ricoh Arena. Before construction could even begin, the owners were already facing financial difficulties. The money earned through the sale of Highfield Road was supposed to aid the construction the new stadium. However, due to the club's relegation in 2001, that investment had to go elsewhere. The council stepped in to rescue the project and by 2005, the club had its new home. As Coventry settled into the Ricoh Arena, the owners had to come up with £1.3 million of annual rent. By 2007, the club was on the edge of administration and new ownership promised to take the club out of crisis. What followed was another relegation. What’s more, the League One club could no longer afford to pay the stadium’s rent. By 2013 a court decision saw the club finally dip into administration. That ultimately led to the loss of the Ricoh Arena and the team continued to play their football over 30 miles away in Northampton. Playing their home games in another city led to many protests and campaigns against the decision. Thankfully for the supporters, the club returned to the Ricoh Arena in 2014. However, with the tenancy agreement running out in 2018, could there be more uncertainty to come? 2) Blackpool From Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge to Rodney Parade and Gresty Road. It’s fair to say that over the past sixteen years, Blackpool fans have enjoyed a variety of away days thanks to their rollercoaster ride in the Football League. Since 2000 the Tangerines have celebrated three promotions and have endured three relegations, all during the ownership of the Oystons. At first, Owen Oyston was seen as a saviour after stepping in to save the club from bankruptcy. External investments then helped the club to move up the football ladder and the eventual appointment of Ian Holloway saw the club reach the Premier League. However, a lack of sufficient investment in the squad and their relegation from the top flight marked the start of a downward spiral which would see the club fall to the fourth division for the first time since 2000. During their demise many fans have engaged in protests, both on and off-field, in order to try and change the direction of the club. Some fans have gone further and even sent threats to the owners. The Oystons have tried to silence some of the supporters through legal action - however, that has just made the relationship a lot worse. 3) Bolton Wanderers It’s been almost five years since Bolton were last competing in the Premier League. Since their relegation from the top flight, things have been going from bad to worse as the club, which was a founding member of the Football League, is now fighting for survival. Last year Bolton’s debts surpassed £170 million. Additionally, HMRC handed the club a winding-up petition over its unpaid taxes. As Bolton struggled off the pitch, things were no better on it. The team endured a 17-match winless run under manager Neil Lennon and were relegated to League One; their first season in the third division since 1992. One of the main problems for the club has been player’s wages. During the summer over 20 players left Bolton and a new team had to be constructed. Chairman Ken Anderson will now certainly be looking to make the club a sustainable business - however, with a reported £30 million debt, that will not be easy. 4) Leyton Orient Circumstances change quickly in football. Two years ago Leyton Orient could have been celebrating their promotion to the Championship. However, a penalty shoot-out loss to Rotherham in the play-off final denied them that opportunity. Fast forward to today and the O’s find themselves fighting for survival in League Two. What went wrong? Since the Italian businessman, Francesco Becchetti, bought the club in 2014, the team has seen numerous managers come and go. To add to the instability, the club has seen many changes to the backroom staff. On top of that, the new owner has endured a number of problems outside of Leyton Orient. These problems include accusations of money laundering in Albania. With things not getting any better, many fans are getting increasingly concerned about the future of this once great family club. Share your thoughts about this feature on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the conversation.
  21. Arsenal have completed the signing of defender Rob Holding from Bolton Wanderers for a fee believed to be about £2m. The 20-year-old, who has agreed to a 'long-term' deal, made 30 appearances for the Trotters during his first senior campaign in 2015-16 and won the club's player of the season award. Holding has been given the number 16 shirt at the Emirates - Aaron Ramsey has worn that jersey in recent seasons, but he's been bumped up to No.8 following Mikel Arteta's retirement. The former Bolton youth player, who was in the England Under-21 squad that won the Toulon tournament this summer, has described the move as a "dream come true". He becomes Arsene Wenger's third signing of the summer following the arrivals of Granit Xhaka from Borussia Monchengladbach and striker Takuma Asano from Hiroshima Sanfrecce.
  22. Phil Parkinson has been appointed as the new manager of Bolton Wanderers. The 48-year-old, has opted to leave Bradford City to take on the role at the Macron Stadium, after signing a two-year deal at the club. Bolton have been seeking a new permanent manager after the departure of Neil Lennon who was sacked in March, just two months prior to the club being relegated from the Championship to League One. Parkinson arrives at the club after Bradford City failed to gain promotion via the League One play-offs, and the West Yorkshire club have agreed on a compensation package. The former ex-professional who enjoyed playing for Southampton has also had managerial spells at Hull City, Colchester United, and Charlton Athletic. Whilst at Colchester, Parkinson earned them promotion to the Championship in the 2006-06 season, and guided Bradford to League One with a play-off win seven years later. Steve Parkin has also joined Parkinson as the assistant manager.
  23. Bolton Wanderers have released a total of 20 players in the close season as they begin to prepare for life in League One. Defender David Wheater, 29, and ex-England striker Emile Heskey, 38 are the highest-profile footballers to leave the Macron Stadium. Goalkeeper Paul Rachubka, 34, defenders Oscar Threlkeld, 21, Niall Maher, 20, and midfielder Neil Danns and striker Stephen Dobbie, both 33, will also depart in the summer. Other departures include midfielder Liam Feeney, 29, striker Rob Hall, 22, and defender Hayden White, 21 - who ended the season on loan at Ipswich, MK Dons, and Blackpool respectively. In addition, 10 development squad players will not have their contracts renewed.
  24. Charlton Athletic have become the second Championship side to see their relegation to League One confirmed after they played out a goalless draw away at bottom club Bolton Wanderers on Tuesday. Jose Riga's side needed to win to avoid the drop after four years in the second tier, but they failed to score at the Macron Stadium against the Trotters, who will also be in the third division next season. Bolton goalkeeper Ben Amos saved Simon Makienok's shot in a quiet first half, while the hosts almost stole three points when Oscar Threlkeld crossed for Darren Pratley, who failed to connect. The result means the Addicks will return to League One for the first time since 2012, when they set a then-record points total of 101 points on the way to the third-tier title.
  25. Bolton Wanderers have been relegated from the Championship following a 4-1 defeat at promotion-chasing Derby County. Johnny Russell's 30-yard effort put the Rams ahead, before Tom Ince's volley doubled their lead before half-time. Jacob Butterfield's deflected shot and Russell's close-range finish, either side of Zach Clough's consolation from the penalty spot, made sure of the win. Bolton, without an away victory this season, have not played in the third tier of English football since 1992-93. Their slide into League One, which caps off a season of strife behind the scenes, comes just over a decade after they finished sixth in the Premier League and qualified for the UEFA Cup for the first time in their history.

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