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Football League Championship: Week 18 Preview

England’s second division returns to us this weekend with yet another full set of fixtures set to come your way!

The Football League Championship returns this weekend with yet another full set of fixtures set to take place.

This week’s standout fixture sees Derby County welcome Norwich City to the iPro Stadium. Elsewhere, Rotherham go head to head with Leeds while Reading will be keen to continue their good form when Bristol City visit.

Friday 25 November 

Barnsley 29/20 | Draw 23/10 | Nottingham Forest 18/10
Paul Heckingbottom would have been disappointed not to come away from their match against Wigan with all three points at the weekend. Despite having the better of the chances, the Tykes were unable to breach Wigan’s defence as they slipped to their second consecutive goalless draw. The goals have dried up a bit as they continue to slide toward the relegation zone. A big performance is needed against Forest this weekend.

Nottingham Forest claimed their first away win of the campaign when they cruised past an out of sorts Ipswich Town at the weekend. A brace from Britt Assombalonga was enough to secure the points as the Congolese centre-forward took his season tally to six. Philippe Montanier would have been desperate for the win after seeing his side play five matches without claiming three points. This is quite a tricky one to call. Although Forest won last week, neither side has really set the league alight this season. I don’t see many goals in this one as both teams will likely cancel one another out. Both Teams To Score – No – at 23/20 is tipped.

Saturday 26 November

Newcastle 4/10 | Draw 7/2 | Blackburn 13/2
Newcastle extended their lead at the top of the Championship with a regulation 2-0 victory over Leeds United on Sunday afternoon. Dwight Gayle bagged both goals either side of half time as Gary Monk’s men fell to their first defeat in five as the North-East juggernaut continues to roll on.

While Blackburn managed to claim a surprise win against Brentford this weekend, I simply don’t see them getting anything out of Saturday’s match against Newcastle. I’ll keep this segment of the preview short and sweet: take Newcastle on the (-1) handicap at 21/20.

Brentford 12/10 | Draw 22/10 | Birmingham 23/10
Dean Smith was understandably unhappy with his side’s 3-2 defeat against Blackburn last time out. Having gone up in the first 30 seconds, they would ship three goals in the first half to eventually go down 3-2 in the end against a very poor Blackburn side.

They come up against Birmingham City who are undefeated in three and currently occupy fifth place in the standings. Gary Rowett’s men left it late on Saturday afternoon to get the win after Che Adams struck the winner in the 81st minute. The Drama wouldn’t end there as Jonathan Spector was sent off in the 90th minute for a reckless challenge. The Blues are in pretty good touch at the moment and should be able to claim all three points here. Back them at a tasty 23/10.

Reading 27/20 | Draw 22/10 | Bristol City 2/1
Reading have been the surprise package of the season thus far. The Royals have now won their last four games in the league following their 3-0 win over Burton Albion last week. Jaap Stam has worked miracles since his appointment at the start of the season and will expect nothing less than three points this week when Bristol City arrive.

Lee Johnson and his men were unlucky not to get anything out of their 1-0 defeat to Birmingham City last weekend as Tomasz Kuszczsk earned himself the man of the match accolade for a string of fine saves. Jonathan Kodija and Tammy Abraham will need to be in top form if they’re to score against one of the most miserly defences in the league. While Bristol have a few top quality individuals, Reading are probably one of the best units in the division. Back them to claim all three points at 27/20.

Preston 19/20 | Draw 23/10 | Burton Albion 3/1
Preston’s good run in the Championship continued as they claimed a 0-0 draw against Wolves at the weekend. Truth be told, they probably should have won the game after playing some excellent football in the second half. The Lilywhites have only lost once in their last nine games – a record that looks as though it’s set to continue against a struggling Burton side.

The Brewers were never really in their game against Reading at the weekend. Going down 3-0 is never ideal, and Nigel Clough is going to have to pick his charges up as they face a real uphill battle against relegation following a bright start to the season. Preston are not easily beaten as recent results show – they’ll be too good against Burton. Back the home side at 19/20.

Brighton 9/10 | Draw 47/20 | Fulham 3/1
Brighton, perhaps disappointingly so, only managed a 1-1 draw at home against Aston Villa at the weekend. Having gone a goal down after 20 minutes, Glenn Murray struck in the 45th minute to drag the Seagulls level. Villa were compact and defensively sound, making it difficult for Brighton’s excellent front-line to break them down.

Fulham were full value for their 1-1 draw with Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday as Scott Malone’s 91st minute strike drew the Cottagers level to send the home fans into delirium. The London side have impressed this season under the tutelage of Slavisa Jokanovic following a disappointing 2015/16 campaign. This is another really difficult one to call and it could go either way. Brighton have more quality in their ranks, however, and just edge it for me at 9/10.

Ipswich 23/20 | Draw 21/10 | QPR 51/20
I was disappointed with Ipswich Town’s 2-0 defeat at the hands of Nottingham Forest this weekend. They’re a better side than their recent results suggest and need to start stringing together a few results if they’re to avoid a relegation scrap. The last thing they need this weekend is come across a QPR fresh off a 2-1 win over Norwich.

Ian Holloway marked his return to management in style as his QPR side cruised past 10-man Norwich who had Martin Olsson sent off in the second minute for a handball offence on the line – the resulting penalty was missed by Tjaronn Chery. The Dutchman would have a hand in both of Rangers’ two goals, however, as he more than made up for his miss. I really like QPR at this price, and in Ian Holloway they have one of the best managers in the division. Back the Rs to claim the victory here at 51/20.

Derby County 23/20 | Draw 9/4 | Norwich 47/20
Derby County cruised past relegation certainties Rotherham, as Tom Ince and Darren Bent grabbed the goals in a 3-0 victory. Steve McClaren’s men have well and truly turned the corner after a terrible start to the season. They’ve won three on the trot now as they continue their surge up the table and will be keen to pile more misery on Norwich.

Where has it all gone wrong for Norwich? They started the season so well and looked favourites to claim automatic promotion at one point. However, four defeats in a row have left the Canaries on brink of falling out of the play-off places as the pressure grows on Alex Neil. Derby are tipped purely on form here at 23/20. 

Aston Villa 17/20 | Draw 47/20 | Cardiff 31/10
Villa were full value for their draw away to Brighton on Friday afternoon. Steve Bruce continues to improve this side week in and week out. They were almost watertight against a very good Brighton side. Bruce will have his work cut out for him this weekend as his side face up to Neil Warnock’s Cardiff side who are coming off a cracking 3-2 win over Huddersfield Town.

Despite that win, the Bluebirds are still just one place above the relegation zone. It’s becoming a season of survival for the Welsh side who many tipped to be fighting for a place in the top six at the start of the season. They’ve just not been consistent enough thus far, as such I just don’t see them getting anything out of their match this weekend. Back Villa at 17/20.

Wolves 17/10 | Draw 2/1 | Sheffield Wednesday 17/10
Wolves have been pretty terrible of late and are without a win in their last six league matches. This slump has seen the Wanderers slip down the standings where they are just two points above the relegation zone. Paul Lambert will need to turn the team around, and soon, or they could be getting involved in a long, arduous relegation scrap.

Wednesday haven’t had the best of seasons either. The Owls currently occupy ninth place on the standings after conceding a 91st-minute equaliser against Fulham at the weekend. A win this weekend could see them break into the top six for the first time this season. I fully expect them to do just that against Wolves – 17/10 is a gift, add Wednesday to all weekend multiples. 

Rotherham 28/10| Draw 49/20 | Leeds 19/20
Rotherham are dead and gone following their latest defeat to Derby County. Now 11 points adrift of safety and having shipped 41 goals in just 11 games, the writing is very much on the wall for the Millers.

Leeds were in no way disgraced by their 2-0 defeat against Newcastle on Sunday afternoon. Rafa Benitez and his men are on a different level to everyone else at the moment and don’t look like losing anytime soon. Leeds will win this and the fact that you’re getting them at 19/20 is a steal. Take Leeds on the (-1) handicap with confidence at 47/20.

Monday 28 November

Huddersfield 1/1 | Draw 23/10 | Wigan 28/10
The Terriers’ excellent start to the season has all but evaporated following a dreadful run that has seen them win just once in their last six league games. They were disappointingly beaten last time out by Cardiff but will look to come right against second-from-bottom Wigan on Monday evening.

The Latics got life under Warren Joyce off to a solid enough start with a 0-0 draw away to Barnsley. Truth be told, the Oakwell tie was as dour as they come with Wigan not really trying to win the match, expect more of the same this weekend. Huddersfield are tipped to get back to winning ways here at even money. 

Suggested Weekend Treble: 17.5/1
Newcastle (-1) vs Blackburn at 21/20
Leeds (-1) vs Rotherham at 47/20
Sheffield Wednesday to beat Wolves at 17/10

Written by Jason Dewey for @Hollywoodbets.

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