David Prutton's EFL predictions: Brighton to go top as Sheffield Wednesday hold Newcastle

David Prutton

Fresh from his exploits covering 10 in 10, Sky Sports' David Prutton returns to offer his predictions ahead of the busy EFL festive period.

Sky Bet Championship leaders Newcastle host Sheffield Wednesday in a tasty encounter on Boxing Day evening at St. James' Park, with Rafa Benitez's side looking to strengthen their bid to finish the year top of the table.

The action keeps on coming thick and fast as Brighton look to keep pace with the Magpies when they host QPR in the following day's early kick-off, before Derby host Birmingham to complete our live festive offering.

But who is Prutton backing to give their fans some festive cheer? Here are the Sky Sports pundit's Christmas predictions...

Newcastle v Sheffield Wednesday - Boxing Day from 7.30pm, Sky Sports 1 HD

Live EFL

Jonjo Shelvey is unavailable as he starts his five-match ban but Newcastle enter the game having won four of their last five and they've got the depth of squad to fill the gap.

Five-match ban for Shelvey

Five-match ban for Shelvey

Newcastle's Jonjo Shelvey banned for five games and fined £100,000

Dwight Gayle has absolutely been on fire while Mohamed Diame will no doubt want to leave his mark before heading off to the Africa Cup of Nations. Having said that, I feel Wednesday have the resilience to go to St. James' Park and get something.

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PRUTTON PREDICTS: 2-2, Dwight Gayle first goalscorer (Sky Bet odds 50/1)

Brighton v Queens Park Rangers - Tuesday Dec 27 from 12pm, Sky Sports 1 HD

Live EFL

QPR's game against Villa was decided by the brilliance of Kodjia but they were very much in the game. That's been the general theme since Ian Holloway took charge; they do compete in games, they've just been lacking the clinical nature.

Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Birmingham and Brighton

They come up against a Brighton team who are clinical, and some. They had the quality to edge past Birmingham, Anthony Knockaert and Glenn Murray with the goals. That will be an important theme I see continuing at the Amex.

PRUTTON PREDICTS: 2-0, Glenn Murray first goalscorer (Sky Bet odds 13/1)

Derby v Birmingham - Tuesday Dec 27 from 2.45pm, Sky Sports 1 HD

Live EFL

This is another home win for me. Derby drew against Fulham but that was enough to extend their unbeaten run to eight games. Gianfranco Zola has had a few more days to get his methods across to his players but in the Championship styles are much of a muchness.

Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Fulham and Derby County

There wasn't much difference between Gary Rowett's last game and Zola's first so it will be interesting to see how they perform at the iPro. Derby have been absolutely rampant in recent weeks and Steve McClaren has worked wonders on his return to the club. I can't see past them against a Birmingham side in transition.

PRUTTON PREDICTS: 2-0, Thomas Ince first goalscorer (Sky Bet odds 20/1)

Brentford v Cardiff - Boxing Day, 1pm

After losing to Leeds in what was a close game, coupled with Cardiff's ridiculous 4-3 loss to Barnsley - which left them with just one win in their last five - I'm leaning towards the home team to get the victory.

Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Brentford

PRUTTON PREDICTS: 2-1 (Sky Bet odds 8/1)

Aston Villa v Burton - Boxing Day, 3pm

Villa have been like Jekyll and Hyde in recent weeks but they managed to get the victory at QPR, thanks to their star striker Jonathan Kodjia who was absolutely fantastic. Burton had a good go against Newcastle and it wasn't as straight forward a victory for the Magpies as the result may suggest. Despite losing two of their last four, I fancy Villa to see off Burton's challenge.

Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between QPR and Aston Villa

PRUTTON PREDICTS: 2-1 (Sky Bet odds 15/2)

Huddersfield v Nottingham Forest - Boxing Day, 3pm

Huddersfield really impressed me when they won their third game on the spin against Norwich last Friday. Forest, meanwhile, are a complete toss of a coin - they were decent for three games but haven't won in the last three. We were asking questions of Huddersfield when they had a bit of a wobble but they've bounced back and look very clinical with the likes of Elias Kachunga and Nahki Wells playing well.

Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship clash between Norwich and Huddersfield

PRUTTON PREDICTS: 2-0 (Sky Bet odds 13/2)

Ipswich v Fulham - Boxing Day, 3pm

This is a tough one. One thing I am certain of is that there will be goals. In recent outings Fulham have not been shy in finding the back of the net - 15 in their last five games. That is a telling stat going into this game, as too is Ipswich's recent form, arresting a three-game winless run with a good victory at Wigan. I fancy a scoring draw here.

Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Wigan Athletic and Ipswich Town

PRUTTON PREDICTS: 2-2 (Sky Bet odds 12/1)

Preston v Leeds - Boxing Day, 3pm

If Leeds are able to nurse Chris Wood back to fitness they'll have a tremendous chance to winning at Preston. Having won six of their last eight, the latest of which saw them win 1-0 a Brentford with their first attempt on target, they'll need the big man up top. Preston is a tough place to visit and they'll be up for the game having won last time out at Bristol City. Simon Grayson will be desperate to take something from his former club.

Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Bristol City and Preston North End

PRUTTON PREDICTS: 1-1 (Sky Bet odds 9/2)

Reading v Norwich - Boxing Day, 3pm

Going into the season you would have picked Norwich as the favourites to finish higher in the league out of the two sides. But Reading have been fantastic, beating Blackburn last time out, winning six of the last eight while Norwich have lost six of the last eight.

Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Blackburn Rovers and Reading

Norwich have got to find some form at some stage otherwise they'll find themselves adrift in the race for promotion. It's the third real test of Alex Neil's tenure, after gaining promotion in his first season and then trying to remain in the Premier League. Unfortunately, I don't see them getting past the Royals.

PRUTTON PREDICTS: 2-0 (Sky Bet odds 12/1)

Wolves v Bristol City - Boxing Day, 3pm

Wolves are another team who have had that Jekyll and Hyde nature since Paul Lambert took charge but you do sense there is some solidity forming. They closed the game out well against QPR but, when you compare that to the Fulham game, where they had the game within their grasp, it goes to show they are yet to iron out the errors that are costing them.

Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Nottingham Forest and Wolves

Bristol City have not been on the greatest run over their last eight games but they are unbeaten in their last three. I fancy them to dig out a result at Molineux.

PRUTTON PREDICTS: 2-2 (Sky Bet odds 12/1)

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