Sky Bet Championship preview
November signals the 15-game mark in the Sky Bet Championship and just seven points separate first and 12th place. Sporting Life’s Tom Carnduff previews the latest round of games.
They may have started the season with four losses, but QPR are the talking point of England’s second tier at the moment as their impressive form has seen them charge up the table.
Steve McClaren’s men have picked up 13 points from the last 15, with victory over Aston Villa in front of the Sky Sports cameras last time out moving them to within two points of the play-offs.
It also extended their winning run to three, although they face a tricky test against a Blackburn side who have lost just once in front of their own fans this season.
Matching the Rs in the form chart are Birmingham, who have also claimed four wins in their last five.
Goal difference is keeping them off the top of the recent form charts, but victory over Sheffield Wednesday last weekend took their incredible unbeaten run to 11 games.
There’s potential for goals as they face Derby, whose eye-catching, attacking football has reaped rewards with nine goals coming in their last four games.
The Rams were unlucky in defeat to Chelsea in midweek, with two own goals helping the hosts to a 3-2 victory.
Currently sitting top of the table are Sheffield United. Chris Wilder’s men are the division’s second-highest scorers with 27 and Billy Sharp is the man in form at Bramall Lane.
The striker has 10 goals in 13 league games, and is averaging a goal every 91 minutes that he is on the pitch this season.
The Blades will need a sharp performance away at Nottingham Forest, who know that victory could move them into the top six.
At the other end of the table, Ipswich will be hoping for a new manager bounce as they welcome Preston to Portman Road.
Paul Lambert replaced Paul Hurst in the dugout following the Tractor Boys’ 2-0 loss to Leeds, and he will be looking to close the five-point gap that separates them and safety.
Leeds, who sit second, are in front of the TV cameras once again on Sunday as they take on Wigan.
The Latics are a strong side at home with five wins from seven, the second-best home record of any side in the league.
That said, Marcelo Bielsa’s men have the best away record, with just one loss on the road.
It’s set up to be an entertaining encounter to kick off Sunday’s footballing action.
Two sides looking to overtake Leeds in the standings are Middlesbrough and Norwich, who also sit on 27 points.
Boro travel to take on Stoke, who have started to pick up victories following a slow start.
Gary Rowett’s men have moved up to 13th in the standings and sit just five points off the play-offs.
Norwich are at Hillsborough as they come up against Sheffield Wednesday.
The Owls may have lost their last three, but they have picked up points in six of their seven home games so far this season so can still take plenty of confidence into this one.
Staying in South Yorkshire, another side with a strong home record are Rotherham, who have lost just once at the New York Stadium.
The Millers welcome a Swansea City side who, with two wins in their last two games, sit on the edge of the play-offs.
Victory here could move Graham Potter’s team into that top-six.
It’s a meeting between two sides at opposite ends of the division as Hull welcome West Brom.
Nigel Adkins’ men stopped a run of seven games without victory as they beat Bolton at the University of Bolton Stadium and they will be looking to capitalise on West Brom’s current form (one win in five).
Bolton will hope to bounce back when they face Aston Villa on Friday night.
Just two points separate the two in the standings and both will be eager for victory to kick off the weekend.
Dean Smith has won one of his three games in charge, although two of those games were away from home and he’ll be looking to build strong form at Villa Park.
Smith’s old side, Brentford, have lost their last three and host Millwall, who have three wins in their last four, this weekend.
That form has put Neil Harris’ team four points clear of relegation, and they can overtake Saturday’s opponents with victory.
Elsewhere, Reading will be looking to move out of the relegation zone when they come up against Bristol City.
Paul Clement’s side have one win in their last five games, although two of their last three at home have seen them pick up maximum points.