Championship Predictions: Gameweek 18

Rudy Gestede

Rudy Gestede

In the Championship, Leeds’ defensive frailties may be exposed further by Blackburn, who have not failed to score since September. Elsewhere, it’s the battle of the struggling managers at Carrow Road. Neil Adams looks to end Norwich’s poor run of 1 win in 7, while Sami Hyypia will hope to take Brighton further away from the relegation zone, and build on their recent win over Wigan.

Blackburn v Leeds

Blackburn are a very attack-minded side. Under Gary Bowyer, they look to play on the front foot, work at a high tempo, and they always have the confidence to shoot from range. People tend to think of Blackburn as a side reliant on Jordan Rhodes, yet Rhodes is only their 3rd top scorer at the moment, while fellow striker Rudy Gestede has scored 23 goals in the calendar year, many of which have been headers. They also have a decent left side, with full-back Markus Olsson offering width, and Ben Marshall cutting inside to score 6 goals this season.

We can expect Blackburn to score against a Leeds side that have not kept a clean sheet in 7 games. You might put this down to problems in defence, but more importantly, there is a lack of organization throughout the team. In certain games, most notably against Wolves and Rotherham, Leeds have been in control in the 1st half and taken the lead, and then fallen apart in the 2nd half. When the team comes under pressure, the Leeds players need to take more collective responsibility to track back and do a job for their team. With a number of foreign players in the side, that kind of mentality does not seem to be there. Blackburn have the ability to take advantage of this.

Norwich v Brighton

After just 1 win in 7, the pressure is on Norwich, and their manager, Neil Adams. The board made the decision to get rid of coach Mark Robson, which seems like a strange thing to do at this time. When a team is on a bad run of form, a good board will give the manager their full support, and if they are not prepared to, then a decision may need to be made about their position. However, sacking a member of his coaching staff sends out a very mixed message, it suggests a slight lack of trust in the management team, and may create a divide within the club.

Like Norwich, Brighton are in poor form at the moment, but their board have dealt with the situation well. Chairman Tony Bloom has publicly said that he is willing to back manager Sami Hyppia in the January transfer market, and that kind of statement can create a little bit of confidence within the club.

Before Brighton’s recent 1-0 win over Wigan, they had gone 11 league games without a win, yet they had only lost 4 of those games, 3 of which by just 1 goal. They had been playing fairly well and creating chances in those games, they just did not have the clinical finisher that would make the difference. If Brighton invest in the squad in January and are still near the bottom, then Sami Hyypia may deserve to go, but showing some patience may be the best way forward.

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