Championship Preview: Top meets bottom as Cardiff host Peterborough

The Bluebirds opened up a three-point gap at the top of the table last week after Crystal Palace drew, while November's nominations for Player of the Month have been announced
Even the bravest of punters should not back rock-bottom Peterborough this week as they travel to face Championship table-toppers Cardiff.

Malky Mackay's side have won every single one of their 10 home games this season, conceding just five goals in the process, as they look to put several seasons of play-off heartache aside and go up automatically.


Hull City
Bristol City
Crystal Palace

Nottm Forest
Sheff Weds
The Welsh side will surely win, but experienced striker Heidar Helguson has rejected that view, insisting they will have to be at their best to beat the Posh.

"To say 'oh it is only Peterborough' is disrespectful," the 35-year-old told Wales Online. "Any complacency has to be avoided absolutely.

"Peterborough have earned the right to play in the Championship and we see on many occasions, week-in and week-out, where teams that before the game were the underdogs have gone and beaten the opposition.

"We enjoy playing in front of our own fans a lot. It is a fortress for us and I can't see anyone really wanting to come and play us there."

Mackay has largely relied on the older members of his squad this term with the likes of Helguson, Craig Bellamy and Mark Hudson proving vital in the Bluebirds' title tilt.

There are plenty of promising youngsters at the Cardiff City Stadium, however, and the former Watford boss has promised them more playing time as the campaign goes on.

He said: "They have had to bide their time and wait. But I can see the progress they are making. I see that every day in training and I have complete trust in them.

"They are the long-term future of our football club. But Joe [Ralls], Ben [Nugent], Kadeem [Harris], Etien [Velikonja] and Filip [Kiss] must keep working hard and making progress."

Darren Ferguson's side are five points from safety, but experienced defender Gabriel Zakuani has backed the Scot to remain in charge at London Road, despite finding himself transfer listed earlier in the season.

He told BBC Radio Cambridgeshire: "I know he's the best thing to happen to this club. When he left we all saw how things went pear-shaped.

"I think he knows me deep down and what sort of person I am, that I'm a good guy, and I know everything about him."

Elsewhere in the promotion mix-up, a Lancashire derby between Blackpool and Blackburn at Bloomfield Road promises to be a fascinating encounter.

November's Players of the Month
The Nigerian international has strengthened his chances of making the Super Eagles' Afcon squad with some fine performances for the Tigers recently. He notched twice against former club Birmingham, while also scoring a fine free kick against Wolves last month.
The journeyman striker is one of few players keeping the Blues above the relegation zone this season. Birmingham are 19th in the league but King is the joint-third-highest scorer in the league and struck six goals in seven November games.
The experienced defender was a rock in the Lions' defence during their recent 12-match unbeaten run. A 3-0 defeat to Ipswich last week brought their streak to an end, but the 32-year-old did more than enough last month to deserve his nomination with the east Londoners keeping six clean sheets in their recent run of undefeated games.
Both sides are short of their best form, while Blackpool have lost just once in their last 10 games, only two of those have seen them take all three points.

Rovers were smashed 4-1 by Cardiff last weekend and a hastily-arranged meeting was held in midweek by senior members of staff at Ewood Park.

Global adviser Shebby Singh told the Lancashire Evening Telegraph: "We discussed and deliberated things, myself, Henning [Berg], Derek Shaw and Paul Agnew and they were serious and intense discussions where every subject was talked about.

"The pressure is on. We did not expect this to be easy and it hasn't been but the decisions have been made that need to be made."

The Seasiders avoided defeat against former manager Ian Holloway last week, but the Crystal Palace supremo was far from happy with his opposition staff's behaviour after Nouha Dicko's last-gasp winner.

"They were delighted at the end but I didn't like the reaction of one of the men on their bench," he told reporters.

"One of the new fellas looked straight at me when they equalised. It's a war out there and I carried my shield very proud.

"He didn't stare me out - no one can stare me out. I know Michael [Appleton] wouldn't have done something like that, he's got more about him than that. But I didn't look round at them when we scored, did I?"

At the bottom of the table, two of the bottom three square off in an all-south Yorkshire clash as Barnsley host Sheffield Wednesday.

Tykes boss Kieth Hill has seen his job come under scrutiny in recent weeks after seeing his side go 10 games without a win, but the former Rochdale man remains in a bullish mood.

"The managers come and go at will," he told reporters. "It seems to be the tradition at this club to sack a manager.

"There's been no vision, no future, just the sacking of a manager and the expectation it will all be put right.

"If there's a call for me to be sacked and the owners believe that to change a manager is going to pay dividends for this football club, don't dilly, don't wait - just do it.

"If my job is going to be dictated by the recent run of results, then fair play."

The Owls are in similarly woeful form and have been defeated in each of the previous seven games, but may fancy their chances at Oakwell as Barnsley have netted just eight times at home all season, a league low.

Headlines of the Week
  • Barnsley are the lowest scorers in the Championship this term, but look set to lose striker Mido. The Egyptian tried to relaunch his career at Oakwell but manager Keith Hill admitted this week that he is likely to be released from his contract.
  • GFH Capital's proposed takeover of Leeds United received Football League approval this week, a deal is expected to be completed before Christmas.
  • Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy wants to make DJ Campbell's loan from QPR a permanent move in January, the 31-year-old striker has scored eight goals in 12 games since joining the Tractor Boys in October.
  • Gianfranco Zola caused a stir earlier in the week after quotes attributed to him claimed the Watford boss was looking to use his time at Vicarage Road to get the Chelsea job, but the Italian has since distanced himself with the reports.
  • The Football Supporters Federation have called for a trial of safe standing zones to be implemented in English football, claiming the backing of 13 league sides including Championship outfits Crystal Palace, Cardiff and Hull City.
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