The third round of the Carabao Cup is now in the books, and ahead of the return of the Championship this weekend, HITC Sport has taken a look at the second tier fixtures and had a go at predicting the results fans can expect. Part One includes predictions for Leeds' clash with Ipswich Town, Wolves' game against Barnsley and Sunderland's game with Cardiff.
Leeds United vs Ipswich Town
Table-toppers Leeds put the disappointment of losing to Millwall last weekend behind them by beating Burnley on penalties in midweek. But they face an Ipswich side that sits just two points back and has a game in hand over Thomas Christiansen's men. The Tractor Boys ended a run of three straight defeats last time out as they beat bottom side Bolton 2-0 at Portman Road. But Leeds returning to Elland Road could be the factor that sees them edge a tight game, and sees the Whites potentially hold onto top spot. Leeds have still not conceded a league goal at home this term.
HITC Sport prediction: Leeds United 1-0 Ipswich Town
Wolves vs Barnsley
With Barnsley winless away from home and Wolves losing just once all season, this game screams home win on paper. Wolves have won five times already this term, and Diogo Jota is in simply sensational form having scored four in his last three for Nuno Espirito Santo's men. With Wolves conceding two goals against both Hull and Cardiff and three against Bristol City however, the unpredictable Tykes will believe that they have the potential to spring an upset, moving themselves away from the bottom three and denying Wolves the chance to move to the summit. But the smart money suggests Wolves will secure another three points.
HITC Sport prediction: Wolves 2-0 Barnsley
Sunderland vs Cardiff City
Cardiff are third in the table, but level on points with both Wolves and Leeds so will be looking to regain top spot at the Stadium of Light. Again, on paper, facing Sunderland appears to be an ideal fixture for the Bluebirds as Simon Grayson's men have not won since August and have lost four of their last five Championship games. But the Black Cats are facing a Cardiff side that have not won in three either and have not kept a clean sheet since the second weekend of the season. Sunderland need to react as defeat could see them fall into the bottom three, and we expect them to put up a brave fight - but maybe come up just short.
HITC Sport prediction: Sunderland 1-2 Cardiff City
Fulham vs Middlesbrough
With Middlesbrough just outside the play-offs and Fulham struggling for consistency, backing Garry Monk's men may make more sense. Boro have kept a staggering seven clean sheets in the 10 games they have played in all competitions this season, so Fulham - who have scored just eight goals in their eight league fixtures this term - face a very difficult task trying to edge the contest. And with Britt Assombalonga already boasting five goals for the campaign, it appears that Middlesbrough should take the three points.
HITC Sport prediction: Fulham 0-2 Middlesbrough
Queens Park Rangers vs Burton Albion
With QPR unbeaten at Loftus Road and Burton without a win away from home this season, Ian Holloway's men should pick up the three points and strengthen their position in the top-half of the table. Burton would be forgiven for not finding their usual levels of motivation for this game having faced Manchester United in midweek, and QPR - who have scored in all but one of their games this term - should have no problem punishing Nigel Clough's men if that proves to be the case, but Burton love surprising their doubters so it would be foolish to write them off completely.
HITC Sport prediction: QPR 3-1 Burton Albion
Preston North End vs Millwall
Preston have been excellent lately, putting three past both Cardiff and Birmingham to claim six points in their last two games. Meanwhile, Millwall have only won at their own ground this season and travel to Deepdale hoping to be the first team to beat Alex Neil's men there this term. The Lions' impressive win over Leeds last weekend should have been more comfortable however, so they should have no problem motivating themselves against another high-flyer this Saturday. Millwall do not concede many goals away from home, so while we expect Preston to win, it may not be comfortable for the Lilywhites.
HITC Sport prediction: Preston 1-0 Millwall
Keep an eye out for Part Two of HITC Sport's Championship predictions, which will be uploaded tomorrow
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