It’s a weekend full of Championship fixtures as the race for promotion to the Premier League heats up.
Wolves look to take another step towards the title as they welcome a struggling Burton side to Molineux (3pm).
Elsewhere Aston Villa look to bounce back from their midweek defeat to QPR when they travel to Bolton (5.15 pm).
While Fulham also look to make ground on the automatic positions as they entertain the Hoops in the West London derby at Craven Cottage. (12.15 pm).
Both Villa and Fulham will look put pressure on second placed Cardiff who travel to Derby on Sunday afternoon (12.00 pm).
Park Life Sport’s Robert Herman and Joseph Rose give their verdicts on how the matches involving these promotion chasers will play out.
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Burton Albion (3pm)
Wolves are a side back in the ascendancy after victory over Reading on Tuesday night and with that in mind, I think they will have too much for Burton Albion on Saturday afternoon. The array of talent the home side have at their disposal will see them win by a comfortable margin and take one step closer to the Championship title that many have been expecting them to take for a long time now.
Nigel Clough’s side are battling relegation so will provide some resistance on the day for sure, but I think it will be in vain and their winless run will extend to five games.
— Burton Albion FC (@burtonalbionfc) March 16, 2018
Prediction: 3-0 victory and Diego Jota to bag a brace.
Wolves bounced back emphatically from their hammering at Villa Park with a comfortable 3-0 win at Reading in midweek, and that result will ease any lingering nerves over their promotion credentials. Furthermore, with tough trips to Middlesbrough and Cardiff City on the horizon, it’s vital that Nuno’s side can continue formidable home record, where they’ve only lost once all season.
I think this is the perfect time to face Burton, with Nigel Clough’s side winless in four matches and currently two points adrift of safety. They need to pick up wins and fast; however I cannot see it happening today.
Prediction: Wolves 3-0 Burton Albion – Douglas to score the first goal.
Fulham v Queens Park Rangers (12.15 pm).
Fulham go into the game in the best form of any team in the Championship, having gone unbeaten in their last 15 games. Since bringing in new striker Alexander Mitrovic, who scored the two goals that beat Preston last Saturday, they’ve looked unstoppable.
Slavisa Jokanovic gets his team playing great attacking football but what has been equally impressive is how strong they are defensively. They have not conceded more than one goal in a league game since a 2-2 draw with Hull back in December, so overall I would largely consider Fulham the strong favourites, heading into this one, but no Derby is an easy one.
— Slavisa Jokanovic (@Jokanovic) March 10, 2018
To add to that Ian Holloway’s QPR are now on a three game unbeaten run as they try to achieve a strong end to the season. After producing a shock result and beating Fulham’s promotion rivals Aston Villa on Tuesday night, the confidence of the Hoops will be sky high, making them an even more dangerous prospect as they enter Craven cottage. However I don’t think they will possess a strong enough threat today.
— QPR FC (@QPRFC) March 13, 2018
Prediction: Fulham 3-1 – Mitrovic to score.
Fulham have been in stunning form over the last three months and are currently unbeaten in 15 games. The signing of Alexander Mitrovic has been an inspired move by Slavisa Jokanovic, with the Serbian’s double in last weekend’s vital 2-1 win at Preston helping the Whites keep in touching distance of the top two.
As for QPR, Ian Holloway’s side produced one of the shock results of the season in their 3-1 victory at Aston Villa, a result that has had a major impact on the current standings at the top end of the Championship.
The Hoops have a decent record in London derbies, but it’s highly unlikely they will repeat Tuesday’s exploits at Craven Cottage.
Prediction: Fulham 2-0 QPR – Sessegnon to score first.
Bolton v Aston Villa (17.15pm)
Steve Bruce finally seemed to find that winning formula at Villa, getting his big players to gel, shown by their comfortable 4-1 victory over Wolves last Saturday. After that game they looked a real strong shout to chase down Cardiff for that automatic spot, however they went and lost to QPR on Tuesday night to damage those credentials.
Villa will no doubt have that in the back of their minds, but I’m not sure it will affect them to much here. I believe a strong retaliation from the Villans is on the cards, which will see Bolton put to the sword. They have enough throughout the team with the likes of Connor Hourihane, Albert Adomah and Robert Snodgrass to put a few goals past Bolton, whilst being comfortable defensively against the Trotters.
The home side haven’t won in their last four games as they struggle near the bottom of the table, only six points clear of the drop. This could play into the hands of Villa with Phil Parkinson’s men clearly lacking confidence.
Prediction: 3-1– Aston Villa with Robert Snodgrass to bag another goal.
This is a huge match for Aston Villa. Anything less than a win will be a huge blow to Steve Bruce’s side, as they have already fallen to 7 points behind Cardiff after Tuesday’s defeat.
Steve Bruce takes charge of his 750th league game as manager this weekend, as Aston Villa aim to resurrect their automatic promotion bid against Bolton, who have scored more league goals v Villa (239) than any other club
Live on Sky Sports Football on Saturday at 5:15pm pic.twitter.com/ZAJhuEwCZR
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) March 16, 2018
It won’t be easy, as Bolton have an extremely good home record at the Macron Stadium. The Trotters have picked up only three points from 12 points available, so Phil Parkinson’s men need a decent result to maintain their six point gap ahead of the bottom three.
Villa really needs to respond ahead of Cardiff’s trip to Pride Park on Sunday, and I think they will, but only just!
Prediction: Bolton Wanderers 1-2 Aston Villa – Snodgrass to score anytime
Derby County v Cardiff City (12.00 pm)
This is a tough one to call but on current form you would have to give this match to Cardiff, having won their last seven games. They beat Brentford 3-1 away on Tuesday night which is never an easy place to go and really proved their credentials. Neil Warnock has worked wonders so far this season and it would be hard to look much further than them.
Derby however, are the complete opposite of the Bluebirds and are on a poor run of form that could see them slip out of the play-off places if they aren’t careful. The Rams haven’t won in their last six games but this could be an ideal chance for them to turn this form around.
If Gary Rowett’s team have any plans on getting promoted this season, then their form will have to change soon. That said I can’t see them getting a victory this weekend but neither can I see them suffering a defeat. Cardiff will no doubt push them hard until the end but I think a draw is the likely outcome.
Prediction: 2-2 – Zohore to grab a goal for Cardiff.
I don’t know what’s happened to Derby over the past seven games. At one stage, I could see them challenge Wolves for the title, and now I don’t see them managing to stay in the play-off places if they keep up this form.
Cardiff’s form couldn’t be more opposite at this point, with seven wins on the spin elevating the Bluebirds to within three points of the leaders Wolves. Neil Warnock can smell the title, and at this stage of the season that is dangerous for any side.
The Welsh side have been brilliant to extend their lead over Villa to seven points following their midweek win at Brentford, and I believe Warnock will take a point especially with a winnable home game with Burton to come after the international breaks.
Prediction: Derby County 0-0 Cardiff City
Check out my Championship Promotion Podcast Special with fellow Park Life Sport reporter Joseph Rose: