Championship Big Guns Looking to Make Their Mark

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Xisco Munoz is hoping to maintain Watford's promotion push with his second win while leaders Norwich look capable of cementing their place at the top.

New Watford boss Xisco Munoz

The Championship season has reached the halfway stage for many of its clubs but the battle for promotion remains wide open and there are opportunities for fancied clubs to make progress this weekend with recently relegated trio Bournemouth, Watford and Norwich taking on bottom-half teams.

Leaders Norwich are at 15th-placed Cardiff but any slip up could offer hope to third-placed Bournemouth and sixth-placed Watford, who should fancy their chances of securing home wins against Luton and Huddersfield.

Bournemouth are strong favourites to atone for Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at home to Millwall by defeating the Hatters while Watford are also odds-on to see off Huddersfield in just their third league game under new manager Xisco Munoz.

Home Comforts Key for Watford

Watford’s home record – eight wins, two draws and one defeat – is the best in the division and could improve further when the Hornets tackle Huddersfield at Vicarage Road.

Last month the Terriers were worthy 2-0 winners at home to Watford, prompting an almost instant reaction from Watford’s trigger-happy owners, who swiftly sacked head coach Vladimir Ivic and replaced him with 40-year-old Munoz.

It is early days for Munoz, who has presided over a home victory over Norwich and an away defeat at Swansea (1-2), although he has inherited a strong squad.

Munoz has been backed in the transfer market with talented Danish winger Philip Zinckernagel arriving from Norwegian champions Bodo-Glimt and he benefits from the return to full fitness of Will Hughes, who made his first start of the season in last Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Manchester United in the FA Cup third round.

With Hughes’s help Watford should get stronger and they should have a little too much quality for Huddersfield, who had relied heavily on home form.

The Terriers have gone six games without winning on their travels and could be second best against the Hornets, who look solid 4/6 favourites.

Canaries Can Stay Chirpy

Table-toppers Norwich were almost planning for relegation when in the Premier League and so they always looked likely to mount a strong push this time around under retained boss Daniel Farke.

The Canaries have won six of their last eight matches in the Championship and could be heading to Cardiff at the right time with their manager Neil Harris under intense pressure following a poor run of results.

Cardiff have lost four of their last five in the league and were knocked out of the FA Cup by Nottingham Forest last week.

Farke’s men already have the best away record in the division and they look more than capable of making it eight wins from 12 on the road at 5/4.

Stoke Slide to Continue

Stoke have failed to score in five of their last eight games and their injury-hit attack could struggle against playoff-chasing rivals Blackburn at Ewood Park.

The Potters have looked a little toothless without their six-goal top scorer Tyrese Campbell, who suffered a serious knee injury in early December.

They are usually pretty solid at the back but may struggle to contain free-scoring Rovers, who look value 11/10 shots to register their tenth league win of the season.

*All odds correct at time of writing

A fountain of knowledge on football, Tom offers a particular in-depth expertise in EFL and European leagues.

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