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Found 24 results

  1. Hordan has made the move from Preston North End to Hibernian for an undisclosed fee. Hibernian manager Neil Lennon has said "He's one we've been keen on for a long time and it's a real coup to get him over the line, Daryl Hordan will give us a real threat going forward and some strength out wide. We had been looking to add in that area and I'm delighted with the options we now have. "He has power and pace and will hopefully give us another dimension to our play in the final third." Daryl Hordan Irish international has signed a three year deal with the club, hoping to make his first appearance on Sunday against St Johnstone. Hordan said "I am delighted to have made the move to Hibs, I've spoken to the manager and am excited for his plans for the season ahead." "Obviously the boys have started well in Europe and the league, they had a good season last year and the ambition is there to follow that up with another successful year. I'm ready to play and looking forward to trying to break into the team." The 26 year old has had four caps for his international side Ireland and since joining Preston North End in January 2017 he made 44 appearances, scoring four goals. Hordan helped his previous club Dundalk qualify for the Europa League group stages and win three league titles in a row.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. A busy midweek Championship programme takes place with most games on Tuesday plus one on Wednesday. How could these games pan out? Football Manics takes a closer look. Sheffield Wednesday vs. Ipswich Town Ipswich will attempt to build upon their 1-0 win at Preston last time out when they make the trip to Sheffield Wednesday, who have lost their last three. Wednesday's defence has cracked in recent weeks, having conceded 12 goals in four games, while Ipswich have conceded four in their last eight. Score prediction: Sheff Wed 0-1 Ipswich Norwich City vs. Nottingham Forest Norwich will hope to improve upon a run of four successive draws against Nottingham Forest, who will arrive with back-to-back wins to their name. The Canaries have won just three of their last 15 home matches in all competitions but I fancy them to get back to form and be too strong for the Reds. Score prediction: Norwich 2-0 Forest Fulham vs. Sheffield United Fulham will look to maintain their challenge by extending their unbeaten league run to 14 games against a Sheffield United out to stay in the playoff hunt. No other side has won more points or scored more goals than Fulham in 2018 and, since Christmas, no other player has scored more league goals in England than teenager Ryan Sessegnon. Score prediction: Fulham 2-1 Sheff Utd Hull City vs. Millwall Hull, who sit just three points above the drop zone, entertain a Millwall side that have gone nine Championship games without defeat. The Tigers are looking to welcome a number of players back, including Abel Hernandez, but the Lions are in great form and I see them getting all three points on Humberside. Score prediction: Hull 0-2 Millwall Sunderland vs. Aston Villa Steve Bruce heads back to Sunderland with promotion-chasing Aston Villa as he bids to put another nail in the Black Cats' relegation coffin. Although the Villans have stumbled in recent weeks, they won their game last time out at Sheffield Wednesday and despite Sunderland drawing their last two, I think Villa will be too strong for the basement side. Score prediction: Sunderland 0-2 Villa Preston North End vs. Bristol City Preston North End and Bristol City meet at Deepdale on the back of welcome weekend victories against Bolton and Sheffield Weds respectively. With only three points between these two, I think it'll be an evenly-contested game and I see the spoils as being shared. Score prediction: PNE 0-0 Bristol C Cardiff City vs. Barnsley Second-placed Cardiff will hope to further cut their six-point gap to Wolves when they entertain Barnsley in Wales. Cardiff have won their last four league games without conceding, but Jose Morais has won four points in his first two away Championship games with the Tykes, as many as previous boss Paul Heckingbottom in his last seven away league matches. Score prediction: Cardiff 2-0 Barnsley Birmingham City vs. Middlesbrough New Birmingham manager Garry Monk faces a reunion with the club which sacked him in December as Middlesbrough head for St Andrew's sitting in seventh place. The Blues, who parted company with Steve Cotterill over the weekend following a fifth successive league defeat, go into the game two points shy of safety and I think this game comes too soon for any signs of progress. Score prediction: Brum 0-2 Boro Burton Albion vs. Brentford Burton, who remain in the bottom three and three points of safety, welcome a wildly inconsistent Brentford outfit to the Pirelli Stadium. The Brewers have lost 12 home Championship matches this season, three more than any other side, while the Bees continue to tread water in mid-table with five wins and four defeats from their last ten. Score prediction: Burton 1-1 Brentford Queens Park Rangers vs. Derby County Derby, who are without a win in five, need to halt their slide if they are to stay in the promotion race when they travel to Queens Park Rangers. QPR are largely out of relegation bother with a nine-point cushion above the bottom three but are still falling to too many defeats - two in a row coming into this and five from their last eight. Score prediction: QPR 1-3 Derby Reading vs. Bolton Wanderers Bolton, who sit just four points from the bottom three and have won one in six, travel to Reading to meet a Royals side that have won just once in 14 attempts. With two sides out of form locking horns, I honestly cannot see beyond a draw that will do little for either side in terms of survival hopes. Score prediction: Reading 1-1 Bolton Leeds United vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers (Weds) Could the previously indomitable Wolves be on the verge of collapsing? Depending on how Cardiff do on Tuesday, the West Midlanders could head into this game just three points clear at the top. Wolves have not won any of their past three games - their longest run without a league victory this season - and will be missing Ruben Neves, who serves a two-match ban, Leeds will be hoping to bounce back from their disappointing 3-0 loss at Middlesbrough on Friday but have lost their last five Championship matches against teams starting the day in top spot, and I expect Wolves to have just a little too much for the Whites. Score prediction: Leeds 0-2 Wolves 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. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Another busy weekend of Championship is upon us with everything still to play for. How will this Saturday's second-tier fixtures pan out? Football Manics takes a closer look. Leeds United vs. Cardiff City Since a run of four successive league wins, Leeds United have picked up just two points in their last five games, failing to score on four occasions in this run. Cardiff previously endured similarly poor form, losing four in a row, but have steadied the ship by beating Sunderland and drawing with Sheffield Wednesday. Both sides are out of form but with Leeds still missing numerous key players, I fancy Neil Warnock's boys to come out on top. Score prediction: 2-1 Fulham vs. Nottingham Forest The Cottagers have won six of their last seven league games, including each of the last four, to head into this game in high spirits. Forest, meanwhile, have failed to score in five of their last six Championship games, although they won their last away game against current league leaders Wolves. Both sides boast numerous new players following a flurry of activity on deadline day so it will be interesting to see how many are picked and how quickly they gel, but I still think Fulham will be too strong at home. Score prediction: 3-1 Reading vs. Millwall Reading's dreadful run of form was halted with a 3-1 win over Burton Albion but the stats still make for grim reading - the Royals have won just two of their past 12 Championship home games, failing to win all four home games in December and January. Millwall, meanwhile, ended their run of 21 Championship away games without a victory with their win over Leeds United, while their last game was a solid 0-0 draw with Derby County. It's a tough one to call so I'm going to go for a draw, as neither side seems to have that little extra to separate them from the other. Score prediction: 1-1 Aston Villa vs. Burton Albion The Villans are in superb form, having won each of their past five league games; their best run in the league since April 1998. They face an out-of-sorts Burton side that followed up their superb win over Sheffield Wednesday with four successive defeats in all competitions. If any one game could be considered a banker, I would opt for this one. Of course anything can happen in football but I think Villa will win. Score prediction: 3-0 Sheffield Wednesday vs. Birmingham City Wednesday have failed to score in five successive Championship games, last scoring 475 minutes ago against Nottingham Forest in December, but have remained tight at the back, with three draws in a row. They come up against a Birmingham side that has turned a corner, winning three and drawing one of their last five. Could Wednesday really get a fourth goalless draw in a row? In all honesty I think Steve Cotterill will mastermind a win at Hillsborough. Score prediction: 0-1 Preston North End vs. Hull City Preston go into this game on the back of a superb 3-0 win over Nottingham Forest but remain struggling at home, with just two wins in their last 10 at Deepdale. Hull, meanwhile, have failed to score in each of their last four league games on the road (losing all four 1-0), last scoring against Sheffield Wednesday in December. That said, I reckon Alex Neil's side - most probably unchanged from the win at the City Ground - will have the momentum and claim all three points. Score prediction: 2-0 Derby County vs. Brentford Derby have conceded just three goals in their past 13 Championship games, including clean sheets in each of their past three. However, Brentford have won six of their past 10 league games, so they'll be a tough proposition for the Rams. This is one of those games where both teams have a lot going for them but I fancy them to cancel each other out in a draw. Score prediction: 0-0 Sunderland vs. Ipswich Town Sunderland are a tougher proposition now than earlier in the season but they remain in trouble even if seven points in their last four home league games is better than their last 17 home games combined. Ipswich, meanwhile, have won just one of their last eight away Championship outings, failing to win any of their last four. This could be another case of two teams with little between them but I think Mick McCarthy's side will have enough to defeat a side with defensive worries. Score prediction: 0-2 Norwich City vs. Middlesbrough Norwich have been climbing up the table in recent weeks, with their last six fixtures yielding four wins and a draw. Boro, however, have won three in a row away from home; their longest winning streak on the road since January 2016 - even if they remain inconsistent as a whole. A tough game to call but with Norwich boasting momentum and a spate of new signings, I fancy them to emerge victorious. Score prediction: 3-1 Queens Park Rangers vs. Barnsley QPR go into this game on the back of two successive defeats and just two wins from their last six. As opponents go, Barnsley are probably a good call to return to form - one win in their last ten and just six goals scored in their last 13. That said, I don't think the hosts will have enough in them to get all three points, so I'm going for a draw. Score prediction: 0-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Sheffield United Nine points clear at the top of the table, Wolves had stumbled in recent weeks but go into this game having beaten Ipswich 1-0 last time out. The Blades remain in contention for the playoffs but have won just two of their last 12 league games. I don't fancy United to emerge victorious at Molineux but at the same time they should have enough to leave with a point. 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.
  11. With the FA Cup fourth round keeping many Championship sides occupied at the weekend, matchday 29 will be completed on Tuesday evening. How will these fixtures pan out? Football Manics takes a closer look. Hull City vs. Leeds United Hull are outside the relegation zone on goal difference, have not won in the league since 9 December, and have failed to score in six of their last seven in the Champ, although their morale will likely be improved by their 2-1 win over Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup. Leeds, meanwhile, are missing Liam Cooper, Kalvin Phillips, Eunan O'Kane and Samu Saiz through suspension and are winless in four league games, with three defeats among that run. So, two sides in poor form, but the visitors have a stronger team and I fancy them to bounce back from their torrid run to claim all three points at the KCOM Stadium against the relegation-threatened Humbersiders. Score prediction: 1-2 Nottingham Forest vs. Preston North End On their day, Forest can put in superb performances, as the recent wins over Arsenal and Wolves have shown, but then they will lose to the likes of Sunderland and Hull City. The same can be said of Preston - they ended last year with a great win at Cardiff City, but remain winless in the league in 2018, failing to beat strugglers Birmingham City. Neither side has any fresh injury or suspension concerns but Preston boss Alex Neil rotated his squad in the FA Cup loss to Sheffield United so his team will be fresher and as thus I tip them to come out on top at the City Ground. Score prediction: 0-1 Burton Albion vs. Reading Another game with two woefully out-of-form sides, bottom-placed Burton have picked up just one point from a possible 30 in their past 10 home league games, conceding twice or more on nine occasions. Reading, meanwhile, are on an eight-game winless run and haven't kept clean sheets in back-to-back away league games since November 2016, which has left them just four points off the bottom three. I can't imagine this being a classic given its status as a potential relegation six-pointer but I think the Royals will have just too much for a Brewers outfit that is a League One side in all but name. Score prediction: 1-3 Millwall vs. Derby County Since losing to Burton at the start of November, 15th-placed Millwall have remained unbeaten at home in the following six league games and won a classic match against Leeds 4-3 last time out, although the 2-2 draw with Rochdale in the FA Cup was a bit of a downer. The Lions will be up against a high-flying Derby side two points clear of the playoff zone in second place and which has kept nine clean sheets in their last 12 Championship games. A cold Tuesday night at The Den is every opposition footballer's stuff of nightmares and I fancy the Lions to get at least a point from this match. Score prediction: 1-1 Sheffield United vs. Aston Villa Sheffield United's form has been a bit patchy of late but they go into this game on the back of two wins, at Norwich City in the league and over Preston North End in the FA Cup. However, Villa have won four in a row in the Championship, although their FA Cup adventure came to an end in the third round against Peterborough United. Neither side has any fresh injury or suspension concerns and this is a very tricky game to call, so I'll go for a share of the spoils. Score prediction: 2-2 Birmingham City vs. Sunderland Now this is a relegation six-pointer if ever there was one. Both sides are in the bottom three but only four points separate 22nd-placed Sunderland from 18th-placed Reading, plus with neither Barnsley nor Bolton in action today, the winner will climb out of the drop zone. Both teams have however shown improvement in recent weeks, with two wins apiece from their last four league games, making the stakes here ever higher as neither side will want all their good work to be undone. Interestingly, this will be Sunderland's fourth match against a side starting the day in the relegation zone this season and they are yet to lose any of the previous three, while Birmingham have only scored eight goals in 14 home league games, so I'm going to tip the visitors for the win. Score prediction: 0-2 Middlesbrough vs. Sheffield Wednesday Boro, heavily tipped for promotion at the start of the season, are at risk of falling out of contention given their inconsistent form and failing to overcome their fellow playoff chasers, as shown by recent home losses to Fulham and Villa. Both Middlesbrough and Wednesday have made managerial changes this season as expectations were not met by Garry Monk and Carlos Carvalhal, but neither Tony Pulis nor Jos Luhukay have made a huge impact thus far for their respective sides. The Teessiders are in better nick than the Owls though, sitting eighth in the table compared to 17th, and boasting better form - Wednesday haven't won in the league all month - so I fancy Boro to get all three points. Score prediction: 2-0 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. The FA Cup returns this weekend as the fourth round gets underway. How will tonight's games and Saturday's fixtures pan out? Here is Football Manics with a dedicated preview. Sheffield Wednesday vs. Reading Both sides have been in poor form in the Championship and sit 17th and 18th respectively, and both needed a replay to get past League Two opposition in the third round. But with Reading captain and centre-back Paul McShane, defender Omar Richards and midfielder John Swift all out with hamstring injuries, I fancy Wednesday to win this tie at home. Score prediction: 2-0 Yeovil Town vs. Manchester United The archetypal FA Cup tie which sees a glamorous top-flight giant slumming it at a lower-league ground on a cold January night, I can see Yeovil putting in a plucky performance but a much-changed United side doing just enough to come through the tie unscathed with two second-half goals, cue criticims which Jose Mourinho will not care about one bit. Score prediction: 0-2 Peterborough United vs. Leicester City A tricky proposition for Leicester, the Posh are chasing the League One playoffs and boast the division's top scorer in Jack Marriott. Will Claude Puel opt for a stronger side following the Fleetwood replay? I imagine he will make changes and the Foxes will be punished once again. I see either a replay or a Peterborough win - let's go for the latter because romance. Score prediction: 2-1 Southampton vs. Watford Two out-of-form Premier League sides face off, with Saints boasting just one win from 15 in the Premier League and two clean sheets in their last 20 matches too, while the visitors are on a five-match losing streak away from home, netting just two goals in the process. Hard to call but I'll say Southampton will just edge it given they're at home. Score prediction: 1-0 MK Dons vs. Coventry City MK Dons are in the League One drop zone, in poor form, have Chuks Aneke suspended and have just brought in an inexperienced new manager in Dan Micchiche, and this will prove a baptism of fire against a promotion-chasing Coventry side. I'll go for a "giant-killing", if you can call it that, and back the Sky Blues to get the win. Score prediction: 1-2 Hull City vs. Nottingham Forest Hull have won just two of their past 16 competitive matches, although one of these came in the FA Cup third round - they have lost eight and drawn six in this run. Forest, meanwhile, have claimed the scalps of Arsenal and Wolves in recent weeks, so their morale will be high, but I can see the Reds coming unstuck in this tricky game away from home. Score prediction: 2-0 Millwall vs. Rochdale Rochdale have won one and lost five of their last six games in all competitions, as well as not having played since January 13 after last week's game against Southend was postponed, while Millwall have had an upturn in form in recent weeks and can breathe easier, so I fancy them to record a routine win at the Den. Score prediction: 3-1 Sheffield United vs. Preston North End United have won only three of their last 12 competitive games, while Preston have suffered just one defeat in their last 13 games in all competitions. Neither side has too many injury concerns, but despite the contrasting forms, I think this will be a fairly even game and harder to call that at first glance. This is just a stab in the dark but I'll go with the Blades. Score prediction: 2-0 Middlesbrough vs. Brighton & Hove Albion Boro's form is incredibly hot and cold at present - in the last 10 Champ games, they've won 5 and drawn 5. In fact, none of their last 18 games have ended in a draw, winning 10 and losing eight in this run. Brighton have failed to score in nine of their last 13 competitive matches and will probably field a weakened side though, so I tip Boro to claim victory at the Riverside. Score prediction: 2-0 Huddersfield Town vs. Birmingham City Huddersfield have won just one of their last seven competitive matches, but this was in the FA Cup, while Birmingham have been eliminated in each of their last four FA Cup ties against Premier League opponents but have seen an upturn in form - that said, I think the Terriers are not only stronger, but will be more focused as they're not in as much danger as Brum. Score prediction: 3-1 Notts County vs. Swansea City County's form has slipped in recent weeks, with their unbeaten League Two home run coming to an end in defeats to Exeter City and Crawley Town, and also have a goalkeeping crisis with Adam Collin not match fit and Ross Fitzsimons suspended. Swansea gained morale-boosting wins over Wolves and Liverpool in recent weeks and I expect them to get the better of the Magpies. Score prediction: 1-3 Wigan Athletic vs. West Ham United Both sides playing at the DW Stadium are very much on form, with Wigan top of League One and having won 23 competitive games this season, while West Ham are now unbeaten in seven successive games in all competitions. However I expect the Hammers to field a weakened squad, so I reckon this will go to a replay, which David Moyes's side will then win. Score prediction: 1-1 Newport County vs. Tottenham Hotspur The League Two side caused one of the shocks of the third round when they knocked out Leeds United to reach this stage for the first time in 41 years and are certainly punching above their weight in their division, but even with a rotated starting XI, I still think a Spurs side back on top form will have too much for their opponents. Score prediction: 2-4 Liverpool vs. West Bromwich Albion Liverpool were in top form until they came unstuck last weekend and had their 18-match unbeaten run ended by Swansea, while West Brom are no longer winless after beating Brighton the other week and then drawing against Everton, but I can't see them becoming the first team to win at Anfield this season. Score prediction: 3-0 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. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. Preston North End have given permission to Sunderland to hold talks with Lilywhites manager Simon Grayson. After a failed pursuit for Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes, the Black Cats are still searching for a replacement for David Moyes, who resigned at the end of last season after relegation. However, it has been revealed that they can talk with Grayson, who has been at Deepdale since 2013, after Preston released a statement to confirm Sunderland's approach. It read: "Preston North End have today been contacted by Sunderland Football Club to ask permission to speak to Simon Grayson in relation to their vacant managerial position. "Having spoken to Simon, he has asked permission to speak to the Black Cats and therefore the club had no option but to allow these conversations to take place, with a compensation package already guaranteed in his contract. "Whilst these talks are ongoing, Steve Thompson will be in charge of first team affairs. The club will make no further comment at this stage." 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. Championship outfit Bristol City have announced that the club's players will refund all 312 supporters who travelled to Deepdale for Tuesday's fixture with Preston North End. Lee Johnson's side succumbed to a 5-0 defeat in Lancashire, a result which leaves the Robins just a point outside of the relegation zone. In a bid to make it up to the travelling fans, however, the club has opted to refund each individual who made the 377-mile round trip only to watch their team get thrashed. A club statement read: "City's players will be refunding the 312 supporters who attended Tuesday night's 5-0 defeat at Preston North End. "In the wake of the club's largest defeat of the season, the playing squad and management staff felt it would be the right to refund the ticket cost for those fans who made the 400-mile round trip." The Ashton Gate club are 21st in the table, having lost 18 and won just four of their past 29 league games. 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. Arsene Wenger has admitted that Arsenal may have underestimated Preston North End ahead of their FA Cup third-round clash at Deepdale on Saturday night. The Championship outfit were the better side in the first half, but failed to make the most of their chances and only went into half time with a one-goal lead when it could have easily been more. Aaron Ramsey then equalised in the first minute of the second half, before Olivier Giroud's 89th-minute winner maintained Wenger's record of never having been eliminated in the third round of the FA Cup. "Someone reminded me yesterday that I have never been out in the third round in 21 years, but tonight, in the first half, it was close," Wenger told reporters following their 2-1 win. "Preston played with enthusiasm and quality in the first half, they were quicker than us all over. Maybe subconsciously we thought that it would be easier and at half time we knew we could have been out. "I believe that we have a togetherness and fighting spirit and that is why we have these comebacks. It was a typical cup tie with English enthusiasm and the crowd cheering on their team." Share your thoughts about this story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the conversation.
  21. The third round draw of the FA Cup was made on Monday night and, as usual, threw up a number of interesting fixtures. Manchester United will host Championship side Reading, who are managed by former Red Devils defender Jaap Stam. The Royals boss turned out for United between 1998 and 2001, winning a number of trophies including the famous Treble with Sir Alex Ferguson's side. Meanwhile, Arsenal head to Deepdale to take on Preston North End in a match between the only two sides to have ever gone a season unbeaten in English top-flight football. The Gunners famously went through the 2003-04 Premier League season unbeaten, equalling the record set by Preston's "Invincibles" of 1888-89 - the inaugural Football League competition. West Ham United will host Manchester City in the pick of the all-Premier League ties, with Everton set to welcome Premier League champions Leicester City. Chelsea and Liverpool will play lower-league sides, with the Blues hosting Peterborough United or Notts County, and the Reds travelling to League Two Newport County or Plymouth Argyle. The 32 third-round ties will be played across the weekend of 6-9 January 2017. FA Cup third round draw in full: Ipswich Town vs. Lincoln City or Oldham Athletic Barrow vs. Rochdale Manchester United vs. Reading Hull City vs. Swansea City Sunderland vs. Burnley Queens Park Rangers vs. Blackburn Rovers Millwall vs. Bournemouth West Ham United vs. Manchester City Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Charlton Athletic or MK Dons Blackpool vs. Barnsley Wigan Athletic vs. Nottingham Forest Birmingham City vs. Newcastle United Chelsea vs. Notts County or Peterborough United Middlesbrough vs. Sheffield Wednesday West Bromwich Albion vs. Derby County Everton vs. Leicester City Liverpool vs. Newport County or Plymouth Argyle Wycombe Wanderers vs. Stourbridge or Northampton Town Watford vs. Burton Albion Preston North End vs. Arsenal Cardiff City vs. Fulham Stoke City vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers Cambridge United vs. Leeds United Bristol City vs. Shrewsbury Town or Fleetwood Town Huddersfield Town vs. Port Vale Tottenham Hotspur vs. Aston Villa Brentford vs. Halifax or Eastleigh Bolton Wanderers vs. Crystal Palace Norwich City vs. Southampton Sutton United vs. AFC Wimbledon Accrington Stanley vs. Luton Town Rotherham United vs. Oxford United or Macclesfield Town Share your thoughts about this story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the conversation.
  22. Simon Grayson has described Preston North End duo Eoin Doyle and Jermaine Beckford as an "absolute embarrassment" after they were sent off for fighting in a Championship game. The two strikers squared up near the end of Preston's 2-1 loss at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday as they chased an equaliser, and both are likely to receive three-match bans for violent conduct. "I've been in the game for 30 years playing and managing and I've never been involved with anything like that," Grayson told BBC Sport. "I spoke to them in the dressing room and they were apologetic, but that doesn't wash with me, something like that should never happen in the professional game." "It's an absolute embarrassment. I stick up for my players at every club I've been at, I don't like to criticise them in public, I will do in the dressing room. But I can't stick up for either of those players. "You expect it in the playground between four or five-year-olds, not from two professionals who've been in the game a long time. "They've let themselves down, but that's the least of it. "They've let our supporters down who've travelled here, and ultimately cost us the potential of getting a point or maybe three points because 11 against 10 we were on top and we had them. "For something like that to happen is embarrassing. It's a joke, it's a disgrace." The clash had echoes of the fight between Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer in a Premier League game featuring Newcastle United in 2005, and both men at the time were also dismissed. Share your thoughts about this story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the conversation.
  23. Stevenage have signed goalkeeper Jamie Jones from Preston North End and made loanee midfielder Lee Cox a permanent signing from Plymouth Argyle. Jones, 26, has been on loan this season at League One club Colchester United, where he made 18 appearances. Meanwhile Cox, 25, initially joined Teddy Sheringham's side in November and his loan was extended until the end of the season earlier this month. Stevenage have not revealed details of the contracts agreed with either player.
  24. Former Manchester United youngster, Ben Pearson puts pen-to-paper on a two year deal with Preston North End. The current England youth international has made the move to Deepdale after making 50 appearances within two separate loan stints with League One side Barnsley. "We knew about Ben while he was at Manchester United and he was the right age to go out and get some games and we have kept our eye on him whilst he has been at Barnsley," manager Simon Grayson told the club's official website. "He has played close on 50 games on the spin for them. He has played as a holding midfield player, played in a three getting forward and we see him as energetic, box-to-box, likes a tackle and coming from Manchester United he is decent on the ball as well. "He's at the right age; wants to go and make a good career in the game and we are delighted that we have been backed by the owner to spend the money to bring Ben here and also delighted he has come here and committed his future to being a Championship player and beyond." The 21-year old has been handed the number four shirt, after Preston confirmed the signing, and will go straight into the squad for Tuesday's night game against Bristol City.

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