4 games since the Crystal Palace match, we’ve once again shown fantastic resolve to pull things back in our favour. You can’t ask for much more than 4 clean sheets in a row, picking up three wins. Brilliantamundo.

Not since our first season back in this wretched league have been in such a promising position at this time of the year. New Year has always been my watershed. If we can make it that far and still be in a position of note, it’d be fair to believe we could actually achieve something.

With all this in mind, I quite fancied having a look at the run of fixtures over this Christmas period (it’s looks tough) and ponder the task in hand. I won’t predict, because things can change so quickly around Christmas time, but will just have a waffle about how we might do well in the game.

I like the look of three out of the first four games being at home. There’s a couple against teams in the top six, admittedly, but both lost last weekend and are beatable. 

(H) Norwich

Strangely, I’d have fancied this more if Leon Barnett was available. Yes, he’s developed a decent partnership with Elliott Ward, but I reckon Clive could make his afternoon hell. Not to worry though, breaking up a central defensive partnership is never ideal, and I think that might be our biggest advantage. This game is huge, and is a massive opportunity to really put some daylight between us and the chasing pack. 

(A) Cardiff

They’ve had a dodgy patch, but this is the sort of game we’d usually lose. Very tricky place to go for us, but we more than matched them at the Ricoh and didn’t deserve to lose. A little bit of luck (and a few of their players missing) and I reckon we could take advantage of their occasional nerves. It’s crazy to think that a win here could potentially take us into the top 2, given that we haven’t played particularly good football all year. There’s a determination about us though, and if Bothroyd plays and we can keep him quiet, a surprise could be on the cards.

(H) QPR

I’ve watched QPR a few times this season, and they’re certainly riding the crest of a wave. It’s amazing what confidence can do for a team – a couple of unlucky defeats in the first month of the season, and things could have been very different for them. Taraabt is the star man without doubt, but he’s also the most selfish swine I’ve ever seen. Mackie often goes mental at him, and if we can induce some of that in-fighting, they could be there for the taking. 

(H) Ipswich 

Things seem to be going wrong for my idol Royston this year. In short, I think he’s been a bit lazy in the transfer market. Such a generalisation, but there doesn’t appear to have been much thought gone into his new players over the last couple of seasons. He’s desperate to find the winning formula he had a Sunderland, but his policy of signing his old mates á la Gordon Strachan isn’t serving them well. We beat them at their place, and out of all the games, this is the one where a win is a must. Don’t get me wrong; they’re a decent side on their day, but they’re too erratic, and providing things have gone well for us in the games previous, this should be 3 points. 

(A) Barnsley

You can see why I’m optimistic. Yes, the first games of the period are tricky, but certainly negotiable given the form we’re in. Of all away games, away at Oakwell is the one we’d pick out as as winnable. They bloody hate us, and with good reason. There aren’t many teams that we can say that about, so we need to take advantage of it.

Okay, so I’m confident (probably ridiculously so), and we’d do very well to come out of this run of games unscathed.

Realistically, there are 3 wins there somewhere. We just need a bit of luck with injuries and suspensions to see us through, as any radical changes to the side could completely change the team dynamic. Carsley out for the Norwich game presents us with a bit of an unknown, so we have to assume that we can cope without him. It’s going to be tough because he’s really drove us on this year, but we’re in-form, and I’m hopeful others will be able to step up. 

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