NPower Championship Preview, 10-11 December 2010

Friday, 10 December 2010

QPR v Watford, 19:45

The weekend starts here with a game that could go either way, although QPR haven’t lost all year in the Championship, which is remarkable purely as it is probably the most competitive league Europe. Neil Warnock has to take credit for this, and is staking a claim to be one of the best managers at this level.

Watford are potentially dangerous to their hosts, who will equal their club record of twenty games without a loss if they avoid defeat, but will need to be at their best. The R’s will most likely have too much for the Hornets, and Bet365 will give you 13/2 on a 2-0 home win, a result that would please Warnock.

Swansea v Millwall, 19:45

Swansea are a good watch, and with the side lying in third place in the table they are also looking a good bet for a play-off berth. Millwall are struggling a bit, and manager Kenny Jackett won’t be relishing this one. Swansea can expect the return of captain Garry Monk to bolster their defence.

The Swans will probably end up on top, BoyleSports will offer 4/1 on them taking it by two, but Millwall do have the ability to cause a problem for their hosts, and not just in the stands.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Barnsley v Sheffield Utd, 15:00

Gary Speed must regret the fact that this season has become about survival, but in reality he can have little else on his mind, both for himself and the club. Barnsley are threatening to do nothing this year, and need to get on a roll if they’re to give their fans something to remember.

United have been good at the back on the road, and so I doubt they’ll ship many. Still, sense dictates I recommend a home win, most like 1-0, and BetFair have an interesting 36/5 on that being the case.

Bristol City v Derby, 15:00

Derby were hot, not like Megan Fox, but like the metaphorical heat generated by…well, they were on good form, and now they’re cooling slightly. Bristol, to overstretch a metaphor, are slowly thawing on the side, and this after a frosty start.

If you got all that, I suppose I’m saying it is a tough game to predict. Bristol have won five of their last six at home, and Derby have taken six points from nine in their last three away games. So I’ll back Kris Commons to get the first of the game, neatly sidestepping the winner, and offering a little value with BetFred at 13/2. He’s been in top form this year, with eleven in the league so far.

Burnley v Leeds United, 15:00

Two clubs hanging onto the coattails of the leading pack meet at Turf Moor, which has become a fortress of sorts for Burnley. Leeds have a decent away record, losing only one of their last six, but Burnley go in clear favourites.

It’ll be close, most likely, but I agree that Leeds will struggle to take anything home from this game. Burnley still have to win it, and I think they can, and I’ll go for a 2-1 with 888Sport at 15/2.

Leicester v Doncaster, 15:00

Sven is taking the Leicester fans on quite a ride, as is his wont, and they club haven’t been involved in a 0-0 for an amazing eighteen league games. Doncaster have garnered praise and points for playing passing football, and sit two points ahead of their hosts.

I don’t know when, but I’ve a suspicion Andy King will add to his tally, and BoyleSports offer 3/1 on him as an anytime goalscorer. It’ll be another tight game that could really turn on a few small moments, so it could be decisive if he does.

Middlesbrough v Cardiff, 15:00

Boro have really got a job on, and the introduction of Tony Mowbray certainly hasn’t worked any instant magic. In the last six home games they’ve managed just one win, and are up against it in this one. Cardiff have four wins in the last six away games, although top scorer Jay Bothroyd is set to miss the game with a hamstring injury.

I think the Welshies will win, and the esoteric 133/10 on a 2-0 away victory the BetFair offer caught my eye. They aren’t rock solid, but their hosts are shakier than a Lib Dem promise.

Norwich v Portsmouth, 15:00

Stephen Fry certainly has the golden touch, as the success of mildly amusing QI has proved, and he’s working his avuncular magic at Carrow Road now. The Canaries are in fourth place, undefeated in their last six games.

Portsmouth have certainly rescued themselves to an extent, now five points above the relegation zone, but still need to win a few to be safe, with thoughts of promotion a little optimistic. I think they’ll struggle here, and reckon the 16/1 on a 3-1 Norwich win offered by Bet365 might be nice.

Preston v Ipswich, 15:00

Like many writers I’ve reached the bottom of my ‘Preston are in trouble clichés’ barrel, and must simply maintain the line that they need some wins from somewhere. Ipswich could be a good candidate, as they are on a run of five straight losses.

Ironically, both managers are slightly protected by their association with the megalomaniac of Manchester, but neither will want to end up a failure. Tension and pressure could see this end goalless, and if you agree then StanJames has an industry average 10/1 available.

Reading v Coventry, 15:00

Coventry have won three in a row, and with ‘classy’ Marlon King starting to play they will be thinking positive ahead of this trip. Reading, on the other hand, have recorded four draws and a loss in their last five games, and are in desperate need of inspiration.

The Sky Blues are sky-high in fifth, and won’t want to leave empty handed. While a score-draw looks very possible, the home side will bounce back at some point and with a 15/2 offer of 2-0 to Reading on the Bet365 table it might be time to take advantage.

Scunthorpe v Nottingham Forest, 15:00

Scunthorpe, woeful at home this year, are visited by Forest, who are pretty poor on the road. Nottingham have been climbing the table, thanks in no small part to Lewis McGugan and his awesome goals, but need to improve away to make a serious move.

I’ll back McGugan to get the first, and possibly only, goal of the game, and VictorChandler current have 15/2 on that. The poor form of the two sides could well lead to a 1-0.

Crystal Palace v Hull, 17:20

A bit of a dogfight rounds up the weekend, with two teams threatening to drop out of the league meeting at Selhurst Park. Hull have just one win in their last six away games, and Palace have relied on good recent home form to keep them from the foot of the table.

Palace are a fairly unpredictable outfit, but I fancy they’ll continue their good home record here against the ailing Tigers. With both defences leaky it could be a cracker, and I’ll back the Londoners to take it by two, BoyleSports 6/1 being ahead of the rest in that department.

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