The Sky Bet Championship continues to provide thrills, shocks and entertainment as we reach the 12-game mark of the season.
It’s looking intense at the top of the standings, with Leeds, Middlesbrough and West Brom all enjoying recent stints in first.
Leeds get the weekend underway when they welcome Brentford in what promises to be a great encounter in the lunchtime kick-off. Both sides are strong in attack, sitting at the top-end of the charts for chances created, while limiting those against them.
Watching with a keen interest will be Middlesbrough, who take on a Nottingham Forest side who have started to convert draws into wins in recent week. Aitor Karanka travels to face his former side looking to extend their six game unbeaten run, but it won’t be easy with Boro yet to concede in a league home game.
Forest were held by Millwall in midweek, and Neil Harris will want his side to use that momentum gained from the comeback as they host managerless Aston Villa. Steve Bruce departed the club after near-two years in charge at Villa Park. Their 3-3 draw with Preston was one of the most eye-catching games of the week.
Preston came from 2-0 down only to be denied victory by a late equaliser, penalty heroics salvaged them a point as Glenn Whelan was denied in the dying seconds. North End will be looking to move off the bottom of the table as they welcome Wigan, although Paul Cook’s side can be considered one of the surprise packages of the season so far. They sit just outside the play-off positions on goal difference, with victory over Bristol City giving them a brief spell in third.
The Robins are favourites when they welcome Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday, although Jos Luhukay’s side have experienced a bit of a revival in recent weeks following a slow start. The two sides are joint on points, and keep an eye out for Adam Reach who seems to be creating his own Goal of the Season competition with two strikes from range in just six days.
Two other teams in-form are Norwich and Stoke, with the duo meeting at Carrow Road. Daniel Farke’s men have slipped under the radar slightly as they have charged up the table, while Stoke’s talented side are now starting to pick up points. There have been a number of goals in Stoke’s last three away games, 13 to be exact, which makes Sky Bet’s enhanced offer of Norwich to win and both teams to score an intriguing bet.
Stoke came back from two goals down to draw with Rotherham last weekend, and the Millers picked up another point in midweek. They travel to face Birmingham, who have picked up some impressive results away at both Leeds and Brentford. It’s a game which both sides will feel that they can win, which should set it up to be an entertaining encounter.
It’s a local derby in the late kick-off as Bolton take on Blackburn, two sides who are adjusting to life well back in the Sky Bet Championship. Both are on 15 points in mid-table, although Rovers will be optimistic that their strong away form could put them in the right place for victory here.
The division’s highest-scorers are back at home as West Brom welcome Reading to the Hawthorns. Darren Moore’s men have found the net 27 times so far, and scored twice in as many minutes when they came from behind to pick up a point at Hillsborough last time out.
Reading meanwhile, are striving for consistency and will be looking to bounce back after a home defeat to QPR. The R’s stopped a run of three defeats in all competitions with that win, and they welcome Derby next who have stumbled in the last seven days.
Elsewhere, Swansea welcome Ipswich with both low scoring teams. The hosts though know victory could fire them back into the play-off places. Sheffield United are flying once again under Chris Wilder, and they sit level on points with Leeds and Middlesbrough at the top. The Blades are enjoying a three-game winning run and will look to make that four as they take on a Hull side who sit just outside of the relegation zone.