Thursday Championship predictions: Boro can see off Blackburn
The festive fixtures continue in the Championship on Thursday with eight more matches as teams play their final games of 2022.
We select three of the best bets on a busy night of action.
Blackburn vs Middlesbrough (Thursday, 7.45pm)
Blackburn are the only team in the top seven English divisions yet to draw a league match so far this season, winning 13 games and losing 11.
They have lost four of their last six Championship matches but are still third in the table, thanks largely to an overall run of six wins in their last 11.
However, it is noteworthy that Jon Dahl Tomasson’s men only outperformed their opponents on expected goals on two occasions in that run.
They won 2-1 at Middlesbrough in that spell but Boro were struggling and managerless at the time and still matched Blackburn’s xG rating of 2.0 but failed to take their chances.
Since Michael Carrick took charge, Middlesbrough have won five and lost just two of their eight Championship outings, rising from 21st to the top half and within two points of the top six.
Middlesbrough are a different beast to the team who lost at home to Blackburn in mid-October, and Carrick’s men can gain revenge at Ewood Park.
Rovers look to be in a false position in third given they have been fortunate in a number of their victories and it would be no surprise if they were to drop out of the top six in the near future.
Coventry vs Cardiff (Thursday, 7.45pm)
Coventry went into the World Cup break on a five-match winning run but have failed to pick up where they left off, losing twice and winning just once in four matches since the resumption.
Visitors Cardiff remain in a relegation scrap due to their lack of goals — no second-tier side has scored as few goals as the Bluebirds — but the return to fitness of Ruben Colwill could prove timely.
Despite their lowly position, Cardiff have picked up 10 points from their last seven away league games and are unbeaten in three matches since returning from the World Cup break.
Cardiff are far from nailed-on against Coventry but the return of Colwill should give them a bit more craft to help Mark Hudson’s side make more of their attacking possession.
In contrast, Coventry have lost a key man in Callum O'Hare. The attacking midfielder went off with a knee injury in their Boxing Day defeat to Sheffield United and without him the Sky Blues may struggle for a creative spark.
With the hosts out of form and denied arguably their most influential player, it is worth taking a small chance on an upset.
Millwall vs Bristol City (Thursday, 7.45pm)
Millwall are unbeaten in their last six Championship home games, winning four, and Gary Rowett’s men have also beaten top-10 pair Watford and Preston in their last three away games.
Visiting Bristol City have won just one of their last eight league games, losing four, and lost the reverse fixture 2-1 at Ashton Gate.
Bristol City supporters are growing restless and it would be no surprise if more pressure was heaped on Robins manager Nigel Pearson after this trip to London.
The hosts play a direct, physical brand of football which has served them well, with Millwall on the fringes of the play-off places.
Two disappointing results following the resumption of the Championship were put behind them with an impressive Boxing Day win at Watford.
Even though Millwall were aided by a Hornets red card in that clash, Rowett’s men were already ahead before the sending off.
Another controlled performance should bring another three points for the Lions.