Who is David Prutton tipping for victory in the first round of Sky Bet Championship fixtures of 2022? Find out here…
Sheffield United vs Middlesbrough, Saturday 12.30pm – Live on Sky Sports Football
The first Championship game of 2022 comes at Bramall Lane and I’m really looking forward to this one. Sheffield United have well and truly settled under Paul Heckingbottom and are on a run of four straight wins, which didn’t look anywhere near likely a few months ago.
This game will be the Blades’ first since December 20 and so it will be interesting to see how they fare against a Middlesbrough side – led by beloved ex-United manager Chris Wilder – who are also ticking along very nicely and have conceded just once in their last five. This should get us off to a cracker, though I can’t split the two.
Prutton predicts: 2-2 (Sky Bet odds)
Saturday 1st January 12:00pm
Bristol City vs Millwall, Sunday 1pm – Live on Sky Sports Football Red Button
With Bristol City’s inconsistency, it is perhaps no surprise they are lingering a little bit too close to the relegation zone than they might be comfortable with. The table remains very congested, however, so that could change quite quickly.
Meanwhile, Millwall are just a handful of points outside the play-off places. If they could find a way to score a few more goals – they have only scored more than once in a game on three occasions this term – they could well be on to something good. The Robins’ miserable home form might have improved slightly of late, but I’m backing Gary Rowett’s men to edge this one.
Prutton predicts: 0-1 (Sky Bet odds)
Birmingham vs QPR, Sunday 2pm – Live on Sky Sports Football Red Button
Birmingham will have had a fortnight to process the 4-0 defeat to Blackburn on December 18 by the time QPR visit St Andrew’s for this one. Lee Bowyer’s men have not had much luck over the past two months and he will be eager to utilise the January transfer window to bolster his squad.
December wasn’t too kind to QPR until the very last game. They had two games postponed – either side of which they lost a game without scoring and then dropped out of the top six before that last-gasp win at Bristol City on Thursday. I think this might be a tough test for them, but one they will come through unscathed.
Prutton predicts: 1-2 (Sky Bet odds)
West Brom vs Cardiff, Sunday 2pm – Live on Sky Sports Football Red Button
Not for the first time this term, West Brom are stuttering. They were unbeaten in the first 10 games of the season, but have really struggled to build momentum since and have also found goals hard to come by. Valerien Ismael may take positives from the fact his men are not conceding too many either, but with Blackburn on a hot streak, they need to buck their ideas up.
Cardiff are still some way from climbing further away from the bottom three, though under Steve Morison, they have looked a little more comfortable on the road than at home recently. I think they could get something from this.
Prutton predicts: 1-1 (Sky Bet odds)
Nottingham Forest vs Barnsley, Monday 3pm – Live on Sky Sports Football Red Button
It’s two defeats from two for Forest now, which is uncharacteristic given their impressive since Steve Cooper took charge. But from sitting rock bottom of the table to being on the cusp of the top six in little over three months is superb and testament to the work Steve is doing at the City Ground.
That is in complete contrast to fortunes at Oakwell. Barnsley have won just twice all season and Poya Asbaghi has not been able to get a tune out of his squad since joining in November. I have to say, I think this will be another routine victory for the hosts.
Prutton predicts: 2-0 (Sky Bet odds)
Bournemouth vs Peterborough, Monday 7.45pm – Live on Sky Sports Football Red Button
I said after Bournemouth’s 1-0 win at QPR last week that it was a much-needed victory and, now they have followed that up with a dominant win over Cardiff, they have platform to cement their spot at the top of the division. With Fulham boasting games in hand and Blackburn on the rampage, they need to do it quickly.
Peterborough have gained a smidgen of respite in the last month or so, earning four points from the last four games so as not to get cut off from those fortunate enough to be hovering above the relegation zone. The points will be incredibly valuable for both here and I think Bournemouth will take all three.
Prutton predicts: 2-0 (Sky Bet odds)