The only Championship fixture on the Sunday of Christmas weekend is a tight clash between fifteenth place Nottingham Forest and thirteenth place Leeds United.
Forest will be hoping the City Ground’s home support is enough to spur their team on to a victory which would see them gain a narrow two point advantage over the visitors.
Both sides are coming off the back of wins and will look to continue their momentum heading into the congested festive fixtures. Both sides are undefeated in the Championship throughout December.
Due to the tight nature of the Championship, both teams still have realistic chances of making playoff positions. Momentum is key in moving up the table and neither will wish to surrender it heading into 2016.
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One of the key challenges for Forest is getting past the season ending injury of Spanish left defender Daniel Pinillos. Pinillos ruptured his knee ligaments in the recent victory against the MK Dons and will be sorely missed by the home side.
This will force Nottingham Forest into rearranging their defence, with Jack Hobbs starting in the middle and Eric Lichaj taking the place of Pinillos on the left side. Forest’s home form in the Championship has been very strong as of late, with their last four fixtures seeing Nottingham leading at both half and full time.
Leeds will seek a balance between avoiding conceding a difficult to chase home goal in the first half, and exploiting the defensive instability created by Pinillos’ injury as they look to continue a fine run of recent form.
The visitors make the trip to the City Ground without Gaetano Beradi, but free of any other notable absences.
Top scorer Chris Wood looks to head up Leeds’ attack and seeks to add to his mediocre tally of seven goals so far this season.
Leeds most recently struggled to an unimpressive 1-0 home win against a ten man Preston side. The entire team will need to step up their creativity and threat to pose anything resembling a challenge to Nottingham Forest.
Overall, it’s not hard to see why the bookies have set Forest as almost three times as likely to beat Leeds as the visitors are to plunder an away win.
The main factor counting against Forest is the absence of Pinillos and the general unpredictability of Boxing Day fixtures.
The fixture is likely to have the largest television audience of the season for either team and the pressure could influence the contest either way.
Ultimately, Forest are likely to overcome the challenge posed by Pinillos’ absence and take all three points to leapfrog Leeds and make their way to the Championship playoff places.