Championship Predictions: Gameweek 15

Tom Ince

Tom Ince

In the Championship’s televised games this weekend, Norwich look to end their winless streak against a Bolton side starting well under Neil Lennon, while Gary Rowett starts his Birmingham career with a Midlands derby against high-flying Wolves. This blog covers the match between draw specialists Charlton and Sheffield Wednesday, while Huddersfield, unbeaten in 6, face a Nottingham Forest, who are without a win in 7.

Charlton v Sheff Wed

Charlton and Sheffield Wednesday are living on fine margins this season. Charlton’s 3-0 defeat to Fulham on Friday was the first time one of their games was won by more than 1 goal, and even then, the scoreline was perhaps an unfair reflection on their performance. The Addicks put Fulham under pressure at times, particularly in the early stages of the 2nd half, but they clearly missed the clinical finishing of Igor Vetokele.

Charlton have dropped 10 points from winning positions, which may be something manager Bob Peeters will want to address. Charlton are a well-organized side, but in some cases, this has been the very thing that costs them when they have the lead. They are so determined to get numbers back defending, that they can relinquish control of a match, and often invite pressure onto themselves.

Sheffield Wednesday have the feel of a midtable team. They do not lose many games, and they can be difficult to break down, but going forward there is a lack of quality. Striker Atdhe Nuhiu has only scored 1 goal in 767 minutes of football, while Stevie May showed glimpses of promise in the first few weeks, but has made very little impact of late. The surprising thing is that despite both Nuhiu and May being out of form, manager Stuart Gray has not taken either of them out of team. It seems unlikely that new loan signing Gary Taylor-Fletcher, at 33, will offer much more of an attacking threat than Royston Drenthe or Chris Maguire, who have not been given the chance to start games.

In the entire Football League, only York City (9) have drawn more games than these two (7). Given that both teams prefer to protect what they have, rather than search for goals, this match could become something of a stalemate.

Huddersfield v Nottm Forest

Nottingham Forest have fancied themselves as promotion contenders over recent years, despite the fact that they have not reached the Championship’s top 6 since 2011. They always have a couple of months of the season in which they completely let themselves down, and often change the manager. At the moment, they are 8 games without a win, and need 4 more to equal last season’s 12 match winless streak between February and April, which contributed to Billy Davies’s dismissal.

In an attempt to get out of this rut, Stuart Pearce has signed Tom Ince on loan. With Ince, Antonio, and Assombalonga, Forest have an attacking trio that most sides in the league will be envious of, and they will certainly not lack pace. However, perhaps this signing means a more limited role for Henri Lansbury, who has been out of the team for the last 2 games. Given that Ince will not track back as much as Chris Burke might, it would be overly attacking of Pearce to allow Lansbury to stay in his attacking midfield role. When he does start, we may see him handed more responsibility to break up play, allowing Forest to counter-attack down the flanks.

Huddersfield Town are in good form. They have taken 18 points from their last 6 games, without losing any of them. Chris Powell seems to have slightly re-organized the team, because they were leaking goals constantly before he took over. Defending set pieces had been problematic last season, due to the lack of height, but with the signing of Mark Hudson from Cardiff, Huddersfield have done better in this area too.

By no means have these defensive improvements come at the cost of attacking efficiency, because Huddersfield’s strikers are playing with confidence. Nahki Wells has scored 4 goals in his last 3, Harry Bunn now has 3 in 5, and Jacob Butterfield has chipped in with 3 goals from midfield. On current form, Huddersfield will fancy themselves to force Forest to drop yet more points.