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Monday's Championship preview: Blades look too sharp for QPR

The busy period in the EFL calendar comes to an end on Monday with seven matches from the Championship, including televised contests between Norwich and Watford and Queens Park Rangers and Sheffield United.

With no second-tier action until Sunday 14th January, the teams jostling for position in the table will be aiming to sign off the packed festive period with a victory.

Canaries can edge out injury-hit Watford

What: Norwich v Watford 
Where: Carrow Road, Norwich 
When: 15:00, Monday 2nd January 2023 
How to watch: Sky Sports Main Event & Sky Sports Football 
Odds: Norwich 10/11, Draw 11/4, Watford 3/1

Norwich parted company with manager Dean Smith following their 2-1 loss at Luton on Boxing Day but any improvement was far from immediate for the Canaries, who limped to a 1-1 draw with Reading on Friday. 

The Carrow Road club have now dropped out of the Championship play-off places and while the search for a new manager continues, caretaker boss Alan Russell will be hoping to mastermind a victory over Watford. 

Slaven Bilic's Hornets, who are no strangers to managerial upheaval themselves, appeared to be on the right path after the Croat was appointed in September, but two post-Christmas losses to Millwall and Swansea have dented their diminishing chances of catching up with runaway automatic promotion candidates Burnley and Sheffield United. 

Both teams harbour hopes of a Premier League return in 2023 but there has not been much to like about recent performances from either club, which makes this a tough contest to call. 

However, Watford's mounting injury list could swing it in favour of the hosts. The Hertfordshire men remain without top goalscorer Joao Pedro, who is one of a number of players unavailable for selection. 

At odds of 10/11, Norwich look the best bet as Russell bids to stake a claim for a permanent gig.

Critchley's QPR look no match for visitors

What: QPR v Sheff Utd 
Where: Loftus Road, London 
When: 20:00, Monday 2nd January 2023 
How to watch: Sky Sports Main Event & Sky Sports Football 
Odds: QPR 21/10, Draw 12/5, Sheff Utd 13/10

Burnley are setting the pace in the Championship but Sheffield United are not far behind and Paul Heckingbottom's men should cut the gap when they take on QPR at Loftus Road. 

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Sunday's Championship preview

January sport preview

Blades fans will be dreaming of Premier League football next season following a run of eight wins from their last nine matches, including recent triumphs over Coventry and Blackpool. 

It's no surprise to see them priced up at 13/10 in Full Time Result to defeat a QPR side who are still finding their feet after Michael Beale left for Rangers, this time of the Scottish variety, during the World Cup break. 

However, the wheels were starting to wobble for the Super Hoops before Beale's departure - they claimed just one point from five matches before the break - and new boss Neil Critchley has endured a mixed start to his tenure, beating Preston but more recently suffering a 3-0 home defeat to Luton after a drab draw at Cardiff. 

Things look far rosier for their visitors, who have won five on the bounce on the road and are keen to add another three points to their tally.

Clarets to continue relentless march

What: Swansea v Burnley 
Where: Stadium 
When: 15:00, Monday 2nd January 2023 
Odds: Swansea 2/1, Draw 23/10, Burnley 7/5

Burnley have won nine of their last 10 Championship matches and Vincent Kompany's men can continue to march on by claiming all three points at Swansea. 

The Clarets are a perfect four from four since the post-World Cup resumption, beating QPR, Middlesbrough, Birmingham and Stoke and only conceding once in the process. 

They arguably looked a little laboured in beating the Potters on Friday but the Swans have had to cope with the same turnaround after they bounced back to winning ways with a 4-0 victory over Watford on the same day. 

While that scoreline caught the eye, Russell Martin's men were previously winless in eight matches and it arguably says more about the state of Watford's injury-hit squad than the Swans themselves.

West Brom set to bag three points

What: West Brom v Reading 
Where: The Hawthorns 
When: 15:00, Monday 2nd January 2023 
Odds: West Brom 4/6, Draw 14/5, Reading 17/4

After a slow start to the 2022/23 campaign, West Brom are starting to charge up the table and the Baggies look set to claim three points when they host Reading at the Hawthorns. 

Back-to-back 2-0 wins over Bristol City and Preston have put Carlos Coberan's men on the brink of the play-off places, with those victories taking their run to seven wins from eight either side of the World Cup break. 

West Brom have won four on the spin at home, without conceding a goal, and they should fancy their chances of defeating Reading. 

The Royals have been in solid form either side of Christmas but they've generally struggled on their travels, claiming just 11 of their 36 points away from Berkshire.

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