• Nathan Smith


THE CHAMPIONSHIP – Cardiff City vs Swansea City (12th December – KO 12:30pm)

Cardiff City have been in some fantastic form as of late, with four wins on the trot, including an impressive 1-0 win away at Watford. The Bluebirds have put teams to the sword in an attacking sense, and with only one goal conceded in those four wins, they have been near impenetrable at the back. Neil Harris seems to have found his best eleven and it is paying off for Cardiff as they are climbing the table with eyes on the playoffs.

They will be coming up against the best defensive side in the Championship, arch-rivals Swansea City. Steve Cooper has made the Swans turn from a team on a downward spiral, to a team looking to return to the Premier League. Cooper’s side have been slightly inconsistent as of late, with two wins, a draw, and a loss in their last four, but still find themselves in fourth place. Swansea will be looking to their back three to keep out the likes of Kieffer Moore and Mark Harris.

The South Wales derby is always an intense affair, and while rarely free flowing, it will certainly be a must watch during Saturday lunch time.

LEAGUE ONE – Blackpool vs Oxford United (12th December – KO 3pm)

It feels like Blackpool have finally adjusted to the play style that Neil Critchley wanted, and it is paying dividends as the Tangerines have won four of their last five league games. With three of those wins being 1-0, the former Liverpool coach may want his side to take their chances more but can only be happy with Blackpool’s defending as of late. In their last two league games, Critchley’s side have only conceded two shots on target which is something they will be hoping to carry on against Oxford United.

It has not been a good season for last year’s play-off finalists, taking up the last slot in the relegation zone. Despite having only lost one game in their last five, three draws mean that the U’s have only won one of their last five, which is not the most helpful when it comes to getting out of the relegation zone. Karl Robinson’s side are on a slight upward curve and will want to continue that when they visit Bloomfield Road.

With both sides not losing a lot of late, it will be an interesting encounter between two sides who are starting to live up to their preseason expectations.

LEAGUE TWO – Forest Green Rovers vs Cambridge United (12th December – KO 3pm)

Forest Green Rovers have maintained their good start to the season and remain in the title conversation. Two wins and two draws in their last five have helped Mark Cooper’s side keep up with the likes of Newport County and Cheltenham Town. After two strong away wins and a respectable draw against Newport, Forest Green will want to send a message to their title rivals by beating Cambridge on Saturday.

After a superb start to the season, which found Cambridge United at the top of the league, things have dwindled down for Mark Bonner’s, who are coming off two losses against Mansfield Town and Oldham Athletic. While both those sides were in good form, if Cambridge want to stay challenging at the top, then they are going to have to start winning again. Bonner will be looking to his other attackers like Harvey Knibbs to help Paul Mullin out with the scoring.

Forest Green will want to make a statement from the off against a Cambridge side who will want to prove that they belong near the top of the league.

WILDCARD – AFC Bournemouth vs Huddersfield Town (12th December – KO 3pm)

Bournemouth have recovered well from their poor Premier League season and find themselves in second place in the Championship. Despite this, it does not feel as if Jason Tindall’s side have fully got going, which could be a scary prospect for most sides in the league. With a lot of draws, the Cherries do need to work on their stars, as they tend to go one or two nil down in the games they draw. Bournemouth have great individual talent in David Brooks and Dominic Solanke and will be looking for them to be the catalyst for a home win.

Huddersfield have found a rhythm under Marcelo Bielsa’s former understudy Carlos Corberan, with the Terriers in a comfortable twelfth, having a go at reaching the playoffs. The loan signing of Ajax’s Carel Eiting has proven to be one of the best pieces of business this season, and two clean sheets in a row shows the work Huddersfield have put in on the training ground into their defending. Corberan’s side are one of the more entertaining sides in the league and you can see that Bielsa influence in the Spaniard’s team.

In a game which will certainly entertain, a win for Bournemouth helps them stay in the automatic promotion places, and a win for Huddersfield will keep that unlikely play-off push rolling.