Following their 5-3 defeat in the eight goal thriller at the Cardiff City Stadium last weekend, Barnsley welcome bottom club Bristol City to Oakwell as they look to extend their recent good run on home soil.
The Tykes didn’t taste victory in their opening four home matches, however they go into this game having won their last two, and, after beating their opponents 4-2 in this fixture last campaign, they will be eager to continue the winning formula. Despite still sitting bottom of the league, four of the Robins’ points have come away from Ashton Gate and the visitors will be buoyed by the fact they have lost only once in seven games against their South Yorkshire counterparts.
Birmingham City will look to resume their unbeaten home record following a string of excellent results. As well as making progress in Europe, the Blues are enjoying a good run domestically and with two games in hand on most of their opponents, currently find themselves one point behind the Championship play-offs on the back of four successive victories. Visitors Brighton started the season in blistering style and spent the first two months in the division’s top six after their promotion from League One in May, however the Seagulls are experiencing a serious loss in form and confidence and arrive in the Midlands having not tasted success in their last seven league outings.
At Selhurst Park Crystal Palace welcome a Reading side who are looking to extend their impressive unbeaten run. The Royals had a shaky start to the season but have proved hard to beat in recent weeks, however despite not having tasted defeat since September 10th – a run of form stretching seven matches – they find themselves languishing in 15th place in the Championship table. Palace prepare for this fixture having won their last three league games without conceding a goal and with just one defeat at home this season another victory could see the Eagles into the automatic promotions spots.
Two teams hoping for a turnaround in recent fortunes meet at Pride Park as Derby County play host to Portsmouth. The Rams started this campaign in blistering fashion winning their first four league games and setting an early pace in the division, however despite falling into sixth spot following an October without victory, they will be hoping their strong home record proves fruitful against a team winless on their travels. Pompey arrive as one of only two clubs not to pick up maximum points in any of their away matches this season, however after two home successes on the bounce they will be in buoyant mood and may see their out of form opponents as the perfect chance to put that statistic right.
Although it is still early days in the season, the clash at the keepmoat Stadium is seen as a bottom of the table six pointer. Doncaster Rovers, a team with just one win on home soil thus far, take on a Coventry City side who sit just above the relegation Zone. Rovers prepare for the game knowing that a win would see them enter double figures and perhaps kick-start their season under new manager Dean Saunders, while The Sky Blues will follow Portsmouth’s example and try to win on the road for the first time this season. This will be only the 17th meeting ever between the pair with the visitors just gaining the edge having won six times and lost five, and although all recent match-ups have been close encounters, the biggest winning margin was during the 1925/26 campaign when Coventry recorded an 8-1 success.
After a superb 3-0 away victory at Leicester City, Millwall will look to click their season into gear when they return to home action. The Lions have struggled all season and have spent much of the opening months in the bottom three of the league table, however, a somewhat unexpected victory at the Walkers Stadium will have given them a much needed confidence boost as they go in search of their fourth game without defeat. For their visitors Ipswich Town a return to winning ways is on the agenda having suffered at home to Crystal Palace in their last outing. The Tractor Boys had been making progress prior to that defeat and will arrive at the New Den with the knowledge that three points could take them into the play-off positions.
One of the divisions in-form teams, Hull City take their impressive run to the City Ground as they come face to face with a Nottingham Forest team finally imposing themselves on this season’s competition. The Tigers will travel in bullish mood as they look to avoid defeat for the ninth game in a row and force their way into the top six. The hosts, who started the season with just one win in their opening seven league matches, have found their feet of late, and with new manager Steve Cotterill at the helm, are a team on the up after recording back to back victories for the first time this campaign.
A tantalising encounter is in store at St Mary’s as top plays third in arguably the most attractive fixture of the weekend. Southampton continue to turn heads this season with their no mercy approach since gaining promotion from League One in May, and they enter their seventh home game of this campaign with a 100% record having won every one of their six previous. The Saints have been beaten only twice so far in the league and are the Championship’s top scorers with 28 goals, however, with a gap threatening to open up with a victory, their opponents will make the 584 mile round trip looking to prevent that from happening. Boro arrive on the South Coast just three points behind their hosts and with four away victories to their name already will be hopeful of a positive result.
At Vicarage road Watford will be keen to improve their home record and climb out of the Championship’s relegation zone. Sean Dyche’s men have dropped into the bottom three having failed to find any sort of consistency this season and they aim for just their second win on home soil following four defeats on the bounce, however they will have to do it against a free-scoring Peterborough United. The Posh have turned a few heads since arriving back into the second tier and have become one of the most attractive teams to watch having scored 26 goals already. Although they have produced some stunning results and performances, they too have struggled to maintain some kind of form and will be looking to hit back from the 3-2 defeat against Leeds with their fourth consecutive victory against the Hornets.
Following their 1-0 victory at Brighton, West Ham United prepare for this home game knowing a win could take them to the top of the Championship table. The Hammers lost to current league leaders Southampton recently, however they bounced back with three important points at the Amex Arena, and with the Saints dropping points in the same weekend, they know the chance to keep up the pressure is on with a win over crisis hit Leicester City . Their opponents will not go down without a fight as they look to brush their recent on and off field problems aside. With the appointment of Sven Goran Eriksson and an influx of cash to spend, the Foxes were told to claim success this season, however they have under-achieved so far this season and despite only being in the job a matter of months, the former England boss was given his marching orders last week following the disappointing 3-0 home defeat to Millwall.
The day’s late kick-off sees Burnley take on Blackpool in an eagerly anticipated derby. The Clarets have struggled to get going this season and currently lay 17th in the table with only one home win to their name, however the 2-1 away success against Coventry City in their last outing will instil a little bit of confidence. The Tangerines make the short trip across the county looking to avenge the home defeat at the hands of Nottingham Forest. Blackpool are one of the favourites for promotion this season following their relegation from the Premier league and although they have had a decent start to the campaign and find themselves just two points of the play-offs, they also lay six places below in 12th position and will be hoping to take three crucial points off their near neighbours. This fixture will be the 116th between the rivals and with 51 victories in comparison to 34, the hosts currently claim the bragging rights.
In the final game of the weekend Leeds United take on Cardiff City in another tasty looking encounter. The hosts are still smarting after surrendering their seven game unbeaten run in the 1-0 defeat at Birmingham, and will go in search of the fifth home victory which will see them keep up with the pace at the top. The Bluebirds make the journey to Yorkshire hoping to swap places with their opponents having risen to eight in the league following two straight league victories. Fixtures between the pair have made main headlines both on and off the pitch in recent years and with high ambitions for the season being shared, this one promises to follow suit.