There's another crucial set of Championship fixtures taking place this weekend and Jack Critchley is expecting another high-scoring affair in Lancashire...
"The hosts' only two home defeats have come against fellow top four sides and they've managed to plunder 2+ goals in each of their remaining matches at Ewood Park"
Fans anticipating a fascinating Lancashire derby
With the notable exception of their 7-0 hammering at the hands of Fulham, Blackburn manager Tony Mowbray will be extremely satisfied with his side's November form. Only three Championship sides picked up more points than Rovers last month and they've claimed back-to-back clean sheets heading into this weekend's Lancashire derby. The hosts' only two home defeats have come against fellow top four sides and they've managed to plunder 2+ goals in each of their remaining matches at Ewood Park.
John Buckley earned plenty of plaudits for his performance against Stoke last weekend and with Tyrhys Dolan eager to impress against his former employers, the home side will be expected to make a fast start in this clash.
Preston were 2-1 winners at this ground nine months ago, and Frankie McAvoy's side will be keen to build on their recent 1-1 draw with high-flying Fulham. PNE remain extremely unpredictable and followed up back-to-back defeats by taking four points from their last two outings. They finally have a settled midfield and Emil Riis has impressed during his second season at the club, however, they have a handful of injury issues to contend with ahead of this weekend's fixture with Andrew Hughes and Tom Barkhuizen both limping off at Deepdale seven days ago.
This fixture is always fiercely contested and five of Preston's last eight fixtures have contained exactly three goals. Blackburn tend to play on the front foot at Ewood Park and have scored seven times in their last two outings here.
Recommended Bet: Back Over 2.5 Goals in Blackburn vs Preston @ 1.9720/21
Yorkshire rivals to share the points at Oakwell
Barnsley have won just two of their last 20 fixtures and they are deeply entrenched in a competitive battle to avoid the drop. Poya Asbaghi is the latest managerial appointment in South Yorkshire and the former IFK Gothenburg coach does not appear to be fazed by the challenge. He has spoken of his desire to get to know his players and work out what makes them tick. He's had a full seven days to prepare for this clash and fans will be expecting to see an improved performance on Saturday afternoon.
Huddersfield may be the perfect opposition for the beleaguered hosts as Carlos Corberan's side having picked up just four points from their last five matches. The Terriers have scored just nine times on the road this season, with a third of that total arriving at Bloomfield Road in mid-September. They've scored just twice in their last six matches on the road and this is unlikely to be a high-scoring contest.
Recommended Bet: Back Draw in Barnsley vs Huddersfield @ 3.259/4
Goals in short supply by the Seaside
Neil Critchley insists that he isn't worried about his side's lack of firepower and he'll be hoping that the return of top-scorer Shayne Lavery can help alleviate Blackpool's goal shortage this weekend. The Seasiders are winless in five and despite finding the net just twice during that period, they've been breached on just four occasions and remain relatively difficult to beat. Their last three home games have contained just three goals, although they had a goal incorrectly ruled offside against QPR at the start of the month.
Luton's scoring prowess also appears to have diminished in recent weeks and the Hatters have found the net on just four occasions throughout November. They've failed to score in three of their last four outings and bringing in another striker appears to be a priority in January. Nathan Jones' side scored in each of their opening seven away matches, however, they've failed to register in their last three.
Recommended Bet: Back Under 2.5 Goals in Blackpool vs Luton @ 1.75/7
Nip and Tuck at Ashton Gate
Bristol City have won just six of their opening 20 Championship outings, however, despite this underwhelming start to the campaign, the Robins do not make it easy for the opposition to find a way through. Nigel Pearson's side have struggled at home in 2021, however, they are now unbeaten in three at this ground and have recently edged past Stoke and Barnsley. Unfortunately, the Robins' small squad has been decimated by injuries and with Matty James, George Tanner, Andy King and Nathan Baker all unlikely to start this weekend.
Derby were beaten by an Andre Gray wonderstrike on Monday evening and Wayne Rooney will need to galvanise his side ahead of this weekend's clash. The Rams have been competitive throughout this season and have recently taken points off high-flying duo Fulham and Bournemouth. Although they continue to be plagued by off-field issues, they should still have enough spirit to take at least a point from this fixture.
Recommended Bet: Back Under 2.5 Goals in Bristol City vs Derby @ 1.75/7
Blades to edge out the Bluebirds
Steve Morison has found a way to galvanise Cardiff City since replacing Mick McCarthy and although there have been some forgettable performances, only five sides picked up more points than the Bluebirds throughout November. Nevertheless, their home display against Hull was particularly worrying and the fans were quick to register their displeasure. Morison has an extremely young squad and playing away from home clearly suits them. They've scored seven times in their last three matches on the road which is far greater than their paltry return of just two goals in their last four at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Paul Heckingbottom's return to the dugout at Bramall Lane wasn't universally welcomed by Sheffield United fans, however, his side picked up maximum points against Bristol City last weekend. The Blades were much quicker to move the ball forward and looked far less ponderous in possesion. They have a decent squad and having kept three consecutive clean sheets, they appear to be growing in confidence. 'Hecky' will be keen to build on last weekend's victory and they should be able to capitalise on the hosts' home woes.
Recommended Bet: Back Sheffield United to beat Cardiff @ 2.265/4
Entertaining 90 mins in Teesside
There are signs that Chris Wilder is finally getting on top of things at the Riverside Stadium. The Teessiders were excellent for at least 45 minutes in their opening couple of matches under the former Sheffield United gaffer, however, they've been unable to sustain that level of performance across 90 minutes. However, last weekend, they picked up their first victory under the new regime and rarely looked like throwing away their two goal lead. Duncan Watmore was the star of the show last weekend, however, the likes of Matt Crooks and Isiah Jones are clearly benefitting from the managerial switch.
Although Russell Martin has significantly improved Swansea's performances, there are still plenty of imperfections as last weekend's defeat to Reading highlighted. The Royals forced the Welsh side into committing costly mistakes and they may struggle to cope with the intensity of their hosts here. Ryan Manning has developed a taste for goalscoring and in Joel Piroe, they have a striker who is capable of producing moments of magic in the final third. The Swans' away form is patchy, although they have found the net in three of their last four on the road.
Recommended Bet: Back BTTS in Middlesbrough vs Swansea @ 1.910/11
Points shared at the Den
Millwall have drawn almost 50% of their matches this season, however, they were defeated by a much-improved Hull City last weekend. Gary Rowett's side haven't lost back-to-back games since mid-August and they will fancy their chances of taking something from this tie. The Lions have scored exactly one goal in each of their last five outings and building on a lead has become a real issue for the Bermondsey club. They've suffered just two home defeats this season and having already hosted five of the top seven here, their record at the Den is not to be sniffed at.
Birmingham edged past Blackpool last weekend and despite a number of injury concerns, Lee Bowyer's side have now kept consecutive clean sheets. With a trickle of players slowly returning to the XI, including defender Kristian Pedersen, Bowyer will be hoping that his side can build on their recent form and take something from this tie. They have failed to score in four of their last away fixtures, however, they've only been defeated in one of their last four on the road and won't make this easy for the hosts.
Recommended Bet: Back Draw in Millwall vs Birmingham @ 3.211/5
Forest to claim narrow victory at the City Ground
Steve Cooper has suffered just a single defeat since arriving in the East Midlands, however, his side's top six ambitions have stalled in recent weeks with Nottingham Forest having drawn five of their last six matches. The goals have dried up for the Tricky Trees and they have netted just five times in their last seven outings. Cooper must find a way to get his strikers firing once again and this appears to be the ideal fixture in which to get back to winning ways.
Peterborough couldn't find a way past Barnsley last weekend and it's now just over a month since Posh last found the back of the net. They've conceded nine times in their last three away games and although Darren Ferguson has been quick to condemn his side's sloppy performances on the road, he appears to be clueless as to how to stop the rot. Forest may not be firing on all cylinders, however, Posh are likely to give them a helping hand this weekend.
Recommended Bet: Back Nottingham Forest to beat Peterborough @ 1.824/5
Points shared at the Madjeski
Reading sprung a surprise on Swansea last weekend and Vejlko Paunovic's side are clearly benefitting from having some experience in their squad. Scott Dann, Danny Drinkwater and Andy Carroll have all been rejuvenated by a move to Berkshire, and the Royals are now unbeaten in three of their last four outings. Their home record is modest, although they've hosted just two sides in the top half of the table so far and many supporters will have chalked this up as one of their easier assignments.
Hull have enjoyed a terrific November and only QPR have picked up more points than the Tigers during the last calendar month. Grant McCann's tinkering appears to have done the trick although the return of George Honeyman has also helped improve performances. At the back, Jacob Greaves has looked far more assured, and a change of goalkeeper has also coincided with a significant upturn in form. Although maintaining this winning run is unlikely to be sustainable, remaining unbeaten could be key. They should be able to take a point off another improving outfit.
Recommended Bet: Back Draw in Reading vs Hull @ 3.3512/5
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