It’s beginning to look like West Brom is the only Championship side serious
about promotion to the Premier League this season. The teams in the chasing pack
have all dropped points in recent weeks, while the Baggies come into Matchday 33
on the back of three consecutive wins.
Still, with three points separating second-place Leeds and Bristol City in
seventh, there is a whole host of clubs battling it out for a playoff spot.
Four of the top seven meet this weekend as West Brom hosts Nottingham Forest
and Bristol City travels to Leeds. The outcome of these fixtures could have a
huge impact on the race for promotion.
Let’s start by getting stuck into my English Championship matchday 33
predictions for each game this weekend before taking a look at the best bets for
West Brom to Beat Nottingham Forest
West Brom is now the runaway favorite to clinch promotion to the Premier
League after opening up a six-point gap over second-place Leeds. The Baggies hit
a rough patch of form last month, but three straight victories have quickly put
them back on track. West Brom has only lost four of their 32 league games this
term, while Leeds and Fulham have both lost eight. The Baggies’ resilience gives
them the edge over their promotion rivals.
Nottingham Forest is lucky to still be in the playoff places given their
inconsistent form of late. Forest has claimed victories over Brentford and Leeds
recently, but defeats to Birmingham and Charlton have seen the team’s promotion
credentials called into question. Manager Sabri Lamouchi underestimated
relegation candidate Charlton last time out, and his decision to rest a number
of key players backfired.
Forest has often lifted their game against the top teams in the division this
season, but Lamouchi’s side will be down following their shock loss in midweek.
West Brom has the opportunity to maintain their lead at the top, and I can see
them claiming a fourth straight win on Saturday.
Leeds to Beat Bristol City
Just like last season, Leeds raced away at the top of the table this term.
However, Marcelo Bielsa’s men have dropped off once again, and Leeds now has a
number of teams looking to move above them. West Brom and Leeds had opened up an
eleven-point gap over the rest of the league by mid-December, but now there are
just three points separating second and seventh.
Bristol City just so happens to be occupying seventh place at the moment
after edging Derby in their previous game. The Robins lost to Birmingham last
weekend, so it was vital they returned to winning ways in midweek. Bristol City
doesn’t have problems scoring, but their defense is definitely a weak point. No
team in the top half of the table has conceded more goals than City this season.
Despite going through a tricky spell, Leeds should’ve beat Brentford last
time out. Bielsa’s side was much improved against the Bees, so the players will
be confident of exposing Bristol City’s leaky defense this weekend.
Birmingham and Brentford to Draw
A couple of months ago, Brentford would’ve been the clear favorite to win
this matchup. Thomas Frank’s side has still been playing well, but Birmingham’s
recent resurgence means a trip to St. Andrew’s will be far from straightforward
Birmingham was lingering above the relegation zone at the turn of the year,
but a seven-game unbeaten run has propelled them up to fourteenth. Blues are now
13 points clear of the bottom three and ten shy of the top six. With victories
over promotion hopefuls Nottingham Forest and Bristol City in recent weeks,
Birmingham has a genuine chance of making a late run into the playoff places at
Brentford possesses a deadly attack, and star man Ollie Watkins has 20 goals
to his name this season. Fellow forwards Bryan Mbeumo and Said Benrahma have
also chipped in with plenty of goals, so I don’t expect the Bees to lose on
Saturday. However, I can see in-form Birmingham holding Brentford to a draw.
Fulham to Beat Barnsley
This matchup brings together two teams at opposite ends of the table. Fulham
is battling for promotion and comes into this game level with second-place Leeds
on 56 points. On the other hand, Barnsley is rock bottom of the Championship,
having won just five of their 32 games this season.
Fulham is starting to look like a serious candidate for automatic promotion.
Scott Parker’s side has suffered one defeat in their previous ten league games,
and consistency is key at this stage in the campaign. Striker Aleksandar
Mitrovic is the division’s top scorer, while experienced players like Tom
Cairney, Tim Ream, and Anthony Knockaert all boast vast experience at this
Barnsley looks set for an immediate return to League One after struggling to
adapt to the demands of the Championship. One win in nine has left the Tykes
nine points from safety, and Fulham is likely to inflict yet another defeat on
the relegation struggler.
Preston to Beat Millwall
Preston endured a difficult festive period that saw them pick up two points
from a possible 15 over Christmas and New Year. Alex Neil’s side dropped out of
the playoff places following their dip in form, but a six-game unbeaten streak
has put Preston back in the hunt for a top-six finish. No team has picked up
more points across the last five games, making Preston the Championship’s
By contrast, Millwall is moving in the opposite direction. The Lions have
faced each of the league’s current top three in a matter of weeks, losing to
Leeds and West Brom and drawing with Fulham. Less than one month ago, Millwall
was looking like a dark horse in the race for a playoff place. But a couple of
defeats in quick succession can send any team falling down the table in the
Preston is flying at the moment, while Millwall can’t seem to pick themselves
up. A comfortable home win is on the cards when the Lions visit Deepdale this
More Championship Predictions
Here are my predictions for the rest of the Championship games on matchday
Swansea to Beat Hull
Swansea’s squad is still littered with quality players following the club’s
relegation from the Premier League two seasons ago, and the addition of on-loan
Liverpool striker Rhian Brewster has also enhanced the team. Hull has lost four
of their previous five games, so Swansea should come away from the KCOM Stadium
with all three points.
Cardiff to Beat Wigan
Lowly Wigan is likely to struggle against in-form Cardiff. The Latics have
picked up some promising results of late, but Cardiff comes into this game on a
six-game unbeaten run. Wigan shouldn’t cause Cardiff any problems.
Derby to Beat Huddersfield
Derby has been on the up ever since Wayne Rooney joined the club in January.
The England legend has revitalized the club, and Derby is finally starting to
show everyone what they’re capable of. Meanwhile, Huddersfield is in danger of
suffering back-to-back relegations if results don’t pick up.
Sheffield Wednesday and Reading to Draw
Neither side has won any of their previous five games, so I can see this
being a dull affair. Sheffield Wednesday sits five points ahead of Reading in
the standings, but there is very little to separate the two teams right now.
Blackburn to Beat Charlton
Charlton will be full of confidence after beating Nottingham Forest, and Lee
Bowyer’s side can now start to think about moving clear of the relegation zone.
However, Blackburn has their own business to take care of. Rovers can keep the
pressure on the top six with a win this weekend.
Middlesbrough and Luton to Draw
Championship newcomer Luton has been stuck near the bottom of the table
throughout the season, but two wins in their last four games have given the
Hatters hope. Middlesbrough has only lost three of their 16 home games this
term. But following a dismal run of results, a draw is probably the best that
Jonathan Woodgate’s side can hope for.
Stoke to Beat QPR
Stoke and QPR have both been wildly unpredictable this term, and the two
teams are yet to secure their place in the Championship for next season. Stoke
has been playing a lot better in recent games, so I’m backing the Potters to
snatch an important away victory over QPR.
Championship Best Bets for 2/15
You’ve had my prediction for each Championship game this weekend, so now it’s
time to look at the best bets for matchday 33. It’s always worth looking at some
different markets when betting on the Championship.
Derby vs. Huddersfield – Over 2.5 Goals
This matchup is likely to produce goals. Derby has scored eleven and conceded
seven across their last four games, while Huddersfield has one of the worst
defensive records in the division. The Rams are also extremely strong at home,
losing just two of their 16 league games at Pride Park in 2019/20.
Preston vs. Millwall – Preston to Win
Preston has taken 33 points from a possible 48 at Deepdale this season,
meaning Alex Niel’s side has the best home record in the Championship.
Millwall’s wretched run looks set to continue with another defeat on Saturday.
Fulham vs. Barnsley – Fulham to Win
Nothing is certain in the Championship, but Fulham will surely beat Barnsley
on Saturday. With Fulham joint-second and Barnsley bottom, this has to be the
biggest mismatch in the second tier this weekend.
QPR vs. Stoke – Both Teams to Score
Mark Warburton’s side may be all the way down in seventeenth place, but just
three teams have scored more goals than QPR in the division this season.
However, only the bottom two teams have conceded more than QPR, so there is
bound to be action at both ends of the pitch when Stoke visits Loftus Road.
The Championship is arguably one of the most competitive leagues in the
world. The majority of current second-tier teams have spent time in the Premier
League within the past decade, and that’s what makes the Championship so strong.
This season, historic clubs like Leeds and Nottingham Forest are desperately
trying to return to the top flight, but smaller sides like Brentford are also in
the mix. Matchday 33 is set to provide yet more twists and turns in a
fascinating Championship campaign.