Championship Preview: Hull and Burnley eye top spot for the weekend, leaders Middlesbrough visit Leeds on Monday night
12th February 2016

Both Hull City and Burnley have the opportunity to top the Championship standings this weekend as current league leaders Middlesbrough don’t play until Monday night when they visit Leeds United (19:45).

Aitor Karanka’s men, who despite having not won a league outing since January 12, are one point clear of their nearest rivals Hull in second after £9m New Year signing Jordan Rhodes salvaged an all-important precious point at Milton Keynes Dons on Tuesday night with a late equaliser (1-1).

9 February 2016 - Sky Bet Championship - MK Dons v Middlesbrough - Jordan Rhodes of Middlesbrough - Photo: Marc Atkins / Offside.

Jordan Rhodes netted his first goal for Middlesbrough in their 1-1 draw at MK Dons in midweek.

Leeds could find themselves within eight points of the relegation zone come kick-off if results go against them this weekend, although Steve Evans’ Whites currently sit 16th in the table following their slender 1-0 defeat against Nottingham Forest last weekend.

In the meantime; Steve Bruce’s Tigers could snatch top spot for at least 48 hours if they manage to fend off Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park this afternoon.

Hull saw their four-game winning streak come to an end last Saturday as third-placed Burnley recorded an impressive 1-0 victory at Turf Moor thanks to Sam Vokes’ only goal of the game.

Meanwhile Rovers, who currently sit just six points above the bottom three, were content after walking away with a crucial point from the Riverside last weekend following their 1-1 stalemate at leaders Boro.

Then there is Sean Dyche’s Clarets, who have an outside chance of topping the table come Saturday evening if Hull fail to win and Burnley themselves collect all three points during this today’s visit to Reading.

Having won five of their last seven league outings, including two draws, the third placed outfit top the Championship form table and will be firm favourites to prevail as victors at the 15th placed Royals.

Moving onto fourth-placed Brighton and Hove Albion, who have won their last three league games on the bounce, and Chris Hughton’s side face second-bottom Bolton Wanderers at the Amex Stadium this afternoon.

The Seagulls, who sit three points adrift of the automatic promotion places, will be looking to pile more misery upon Neil Lennon’s lowly Trotters, despite the visitors impressively collecting seven points from their previous nine available.

Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off (12:30pm) comes from Loftus Road as Queens Park Rangers entertain relegation threatened Fulham.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s are unbeaten in their last five results, although they have only won twice, meaning QPR are still a challenging 11 points below the division’s Championship play-off places with 16 fixtures remaining.

On the other hand; opposing manager Slavisa Jokanovic has 17 matches remaining of the 2015-16 campaign to ensure the away side stave off the possibility of dropping into League One this May, with Fulham currently only four points above the bottom three.

Paul Clement 2

Paul Clement was sacked as head coach of Derby on Monday evening.

Managerless Derby County, who sacked head coach Paul Clement on Monday, will look to finally record their first win of the calendar year when MK Dons visit Pride Park today.

The Rams haven’t tasted league success since their 2-0 win over Fulham on Boxing Day, 2015, meanwhile Karl Robinson’s Dons have drawn their last two league outings to crawl three points above the dreaded dotted line at the wrong end of the table.

After last weekend’s 1-0 slip-up against QPR; Ipswich Town could still gatecrash the top six this weekend if results go their way and Mick McCarthy’s side manage to defeat fourth bottom Bristol City at Ashton Gate.

The Tractor Boys will need Sheffield Wednesday to lose against Brentford up in Yorkshire, but new Robins boss Lee Johnson will be determined to inspire his new club towards back-to-back league wins following on from last Saturday’s 1-0 victory over relegation rivals Charlton Athletic.

Talking of the Owls; Carlos Carvalhal’s Wednesday return to Hillsborough to face Brentford in terrific form, with the home side having won four of their last six games, drawing the other two.

Gary Hooper’s late brace capped off a fine 2-0 winning display away at Birmingham City last weekend to lift Wednesday into the play-offs, whilst Dean Smith’s Bees sit slap bang in mid-table (12th) after their recent 3-0 defeat to the hands of Brighton.

Elsewhere Wolverhampton Wanderers welcome Preston North End to Molineux, with the away side looking to leapfrog their opponents in the Championship table.

Three consecutive draws have seen Kenny Jackett’s side plateau in mid-table (11th), but four victories in seven games for Simon Grayson’s opponents has seen Preston rise up the table dramatically to 14th spot, just one point behind Wolves, to create a healthy 14-point gap between them and the drop zone.

One team still fighting in the bottom three is Rotherham United after back-to-back league defeats, with the Millers due to take on play-off contenders Birmingham City at the New York Stadium.

Former Crystal Palace and Leeds United boss Neil Warnock will take charge of the home side for the first time after being appointed manager until the end of the season, with the 67-year-old desperate to guide his new club to an unbeaten start after devastating recent defeats to relegation rivals Charlton Athletic and Bolton.

Rock-bottom Charlton take on a Cardiff City side who could move within two points of the play-off spots with victory at The Valley this afternoon.

Russell Slade’s Bluebirds will be firm favourites to snatch all three points given that the Addicks haven’t won in front of their own fans since November 7, that is over three months ago.

And finally; a vastly improving Nottingham Forest team will look forward to facing a discouraging Huddersfield Town team who have lost their last three league matches on the bounce.

Dougie Freedman’s men; who defeated Leeds 1-0 at Elland Road last weekend, are now unbeaten in their last 13 Championship outings, a remarkable run that stretches back to November 21 and has lifted Forest to within eight points off the top six with 16 fixtures remaining.

However the same cannot be said for David Wagner’s Terriers, who have slumped down to 17th in the standings following consecutive losses to the hands of Brighton, Cardiff and Preston in recent weeks.

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