Another weekend of Championship action is upon us and with it comes another round of predictions from Sky Sports pundit David Prutton… including Stoke City’s televised clash with West Brom.
The weekend’s action kicks-off tonight as Aston Villa take on Sheffield United, and despite his status as a former Wednesday man Prutton is backing the Blades to pull off a 2-1 win at Villa Park and move into top spot before Leeds or Norwich play.
“It is too many draws that are hurting Aston Villa at the moment. They managed a rare clean sheet at Reading last weekend but then misfired at the other end as well,” says the former Nottingham Forest and Leeds midfielder.
“Victory on Friday night could send Sheffield United top of the table. Their performance against Villa earlier this season was arguably their best of the season, Chris Wilder will go there to win and I think they will do that.”
But that won’t last for too long, according to Prutton, as he has backed the Canaries to smash Ipswich Town 3-0 in the East Anglian derby tomorrow afternoon.
“It is incredible to think that when these two sides met at Carrow Road just under a year ago they were dead level on points in the Championship table and Norwich had to score late on just to nick a draw,” he writes.
“A lot has changed since then and it is looking more and more every week like there will be two divisions separating these big rivals next season. It’s tough to see what is happening to Ipswich, but it is hard to see past this being a comfortable home win.”
Similarly, Prutton believes Leeds will dig out all three points and move back into the automatic promotion spots with a 1-0 win away to Middlesbrough, despite the recent struggles of Marcelo Bielsa’s men.
“Leeds were given an absolute hiding by Norwich and it is up to Marcelo Bielsa to make sure his side haven’t been dwelling on that result,” says Prutton. “I’ll back them to bounce back at the Riverside.”
A defeat for Middlesbrough would be good for West Brom and Prutton expects the Baggies to open up some breathing space with a 3-2 away win over Stoke City.
He says: “West Brom suffered a bit of a blow against Middlesbrough last week and again in the FA Cup on Wednesday, but Darren Moore is an upbeat boss and his side generally responds pretty well to setbacks. I fancy them to go up to the Potteries and sneak all three points.
“Stoke simply haven’t been able to build on that big win over Leeds a few weeks ago. Since then Nathan Jones has seen his side beaten comfortably twice by Preston and Hull and they haven’t managed to score either.”
And it’s more bad news for Boro as Prutton expects Bristol City to continue their hot streak and move level on points with a 2-0 win over Blackburn at Ewood Park.
“Bristol City have now won five on the spin and have nicked Derby’s spot in the play-offs,” he says. “We know Lee Johnson’s side can go on streaks of wins and losses, but right now they look unstoppable. Away win for me.”
But Prutton is expecting there to be a little breathing space in the playoff race as he believes Derby County will lose 2-1 to Hull City.
Further down the table, Prutton is anticipating a rare win for Rotherham. The 1-0 victory over Wigan would see them move four points clear of the relegation zone.
“This is a massive game for Rotherham. They won’t have many better opportunities between now and the end of the season to claim a win at home,” Prutton says.
“We all know about Wigan’s dreadful away form. They are the sixth best team in the Championship at home and the third worst on the road. I’ll back Rotherham here.”
But it’s bad news for Reading and Bolton, with Prutton expecting the Royals to lose 2-0 to Sheffield Wednesday and the Trotters to be handed a 3-0 home defeat by Preston North End.
Elsewhere, Martin O’Neill’s early struggles at Nottingham Forest will continue as Prutton predicts a 2-2 draw with Brentford while Birmingham City will keep their chances of a playoff spot alive with a 1-0 win over QPR.
To round things off for the weekend’s action, Prutton has backed Swansea City to climb into the top half of the table with a 3-1 win over Millwall.
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