The last round of Sky Bet Championship fixtures before the international break begins on Saturday afternoon when eight matches take place up and down the country with three very valuable points up for grabs for so many.
As is the norm on a Saturday we have a televised game to kick things off and then there are the usual programmes and social media feeds that need to be explored in order to keep up with the other games on the day.
Saturday’s fixtures are as follows: (3pm unless stated – UK TV in brackets)
Derby County v Coventry City (12.30pm – Sky Main Event & Sky Football)
Sheffield United v Barnsley (12.30pm)
Bristol City v West Bromwich Albion
Huddersfield Town v AFC Bournemouth
Hull City v Luton Town
Reading v Blackburn Rovers
Stoke City v Millwall
Swansea City v Birmingham City
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The televised action focuses on the bid for the great escape by Derby County when they play host to a Coventry City side who haven’t completely given up hope of reaching the top six. Derby now sit six points adrift of safety and desperately need a win while the Sky Blues are five off the play-off places and have an equal desperation to win. There is a huge match in the race for automatic promotion on Saturday too when third placed Huddersfield Town host second placed AFC Bournemouth in a match the Cherries can go a long way to securing a return to the Premier League if they are able to come out victorious in.
Best of the Rest
Blackburn Rovers won’t have given up hope of automatic promotion but their first aim will be to secure a play-off place. They head to Reading with the chance of three points while Luton Town begin the day in fifth place and are of the same thinking. They face a trip to Hull City, a place they have good memories after launching their own great escape there a couple of seasons ago. With QPR, Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest all not in action in the league on Saturday, Sheffield United have the chance to move back into the top six when they host a Barnsley side who have come alive in their bid to stay in the division. Should the Blades fail to win then Millwall will end the day in the top six should they win their match away to Stoke City. West Brom host Bristol City in the other game.
Swansea City were done 5-1 by Fulham in their last home match but I think they can bounce back from that with a win over an average Birmingham City side who have done enough to stay in the division this season. Birmingham head to south Wales with just three wins in their last 15 matches and only one win in 11 outings on the road. That win came at Bristol City last time out and they’re not exactly the best form guide in the world to use.
Swansea are going to dominate the ball in this match. They are well clear in the possession stats in this division this season but they are starting to add goals to their game with nine in their last five. That doesn’t sound a huge amount but they had only scored 32 in 31 games prior to that run. Swansea tend to play well at home and prior to losing to Fulham, of which there is no disgrace, they had wins over Blackburn, Bristol City and Preston, two of which are decent results. I think they beat Birmingham too.
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