THE BIG MATCH

Two of the npower Championship's relegation battlers meet on Saturday as Bristol City face Ipswich Town at Portman Road, with both hoping to pull away from the bottom three.

The Robins come into the game sitting 21st in the table - above Barnsley and the relegation zone on goal difference only - having won just two of their last 16 games.

Derek McInnes is aware of the importance surrounding the fixture against another struggling side but remains confident, drawing on their recent away form - two of their last three fixtures away from Ashton Gate have ended in victory - as a positive.

He told www.bcfc.co.uk: "Ipswich will provide tough opposition like any other side in the npower Championship, but it's about what we do on the day that I'm concerned with.

"We want to try and do all we can to collect three points. My club is the only concern I have.

"When you're on the road I think there's a different type of quality required to get results. There will be spells in the game where you need to stand up to the pressure.

"Whilst Ipswich will look to ask questions of us, we won't be going there to shut up shop, we need to make sure we take part in the game.

"We enjoyed some decent results in recent away games and we want another tomorrow."

Ipswich started the season poorly but, under the guidance of Mick McCarthy, their form has drastically improved, taking 10 points from the last 15 available.

Many of the praise has been heaped on striker DJ Campbell, who's on loan from Queens Park Rangers, and has scored eight goals in 13 appearances to help the Tractor Boys move up to 21st but this game is an important one for another loanee.

Blackburn Rovers' on-loan defender Bradley Orr spent six years with the Robins and ahead of the visit to Ashton Gate, told www.itfc.co.uk: "I've got nothing but good memories of Bristol City.

"I have a lot of gratitude to the club and also to the supporters there. They treated me really well and I've had some good times there. It's a good club and a club that I will always hold in high regards. I've got a lot of affection for Bristol City.

"We want to win the game, of course, but it would also be a real boost to our supporters if we can win the final game before Christmas. We want the three points and it would certainly make the fans' Christmas meals taste a whole lot sweeter."

KEEP AN EYE ON

Boxing Day's stand-out fixture in the npower Championship sees two of the pace-setters lock horns at the Cardiff City Stadium as Crystal Palace face Cardiff City.

The Bluebirds will be eager for three points on home soil as their 100 per cent record in the Welsh capital this season was ended last time out as Peterborough United triumphed 2-1 - but that was the club's only defeat in their last seven outings.

The two goals scored by the Posh increased Cardiff's total of goals conceded at home to seven, the best record in Championship, bettered by only Milton Keynes Dons and Bradford City in the whole of The Football League.

The Christmas period can make or break a season but midfielder Peter Whittingham sees the hectic calendar as an opportunity to continue their assault on the title.

"Over Christmas the games come thick and fast; we've got a couple of hard games coming up and it's a chance to put things right. It wasn't good enough from us against Peterborough but we'll go again," the 28-year-old told www.cardiffcityfc.co.uk.

Crystal Palace's run of form can match most having won 12 of their last 19 games and only suffering defeat twice. The Eagles have drawn three of their last four games, though.

Goals are something Palace can rely on thanks to the impressive form of striker Glenn Murray; the 29-year-old has netted 20 goals this term, five of which have come in the London outfit's last three fixtures.

Historically, Cardiff have the poorer record in this fixture having won just 15 of the 54 matches the two sides have played, but the last six games have been evenly split - three wins apiece. In the reverse fixture, a Glenn Murray hat-trick, two of which were penalties, gave Palace a 3-2 win at Selhurst Park.

ELSEWHERE IN THE DIVISION

Prior to their meeting at the Cardiff City Stadium on Boxing Day, the Bluebirds and the Eagles both have tricky ties to negotiate on Saturday.

Malky Mackay's men travel to Leicester City, who have only lost once at the King Power Stadium so far, while Ian Holloway's men host Simon Grayson's Huddersfield Town. The Terriers started their season impressively but have dropped down the division recently with only two points gained from their last six matches.

Barnsley are the only side in the npower Championship on a poorer run that the Terriers - the Tykes are winless in 11 - and they meet promotion-chasing Millwall.

Sheffield Wednesday were victorious over Barnsley last time out but they remain below them in the table, as do Peterborough United, who beat leaders Cardiff in their last outing. The Owls are up against Charlton Athletic this time around, while the Posh host Bolton Wanderers.

Prior to all of Saturday's fixtures, there are two games on Friday evening, including a televised fixture between Blackpool and Wolverhampton Wanderers. The other match sees 10th-placed Derby County entertain Hull City, who sit firmly inside the Play-Off places but could move up to top spot, albeit for possibly only 24 hours, if they win.

Third-placed Middlesbrough could also take over at the summit on Saturday and they visit Leeds United, who come into the match off the back of a Capital One Cup exit at the hands of Chelsea.

The remaining matches on Saturday see Birmingham City host Burnley, Brighton and Hove Albion visit Blackburn Rovers and Watford meet Nottingham Forest.

Boxing Day promises to be another lively day in The Football League, and particularly in the npower Championship, with another round of exciting fixtures lined up.

With Cardiff City and Crystal Palace going head-to-head, Boxing Day provides third-placed Middlesbrough and Hull City, who sit fourth, with a chance to close the gap. They are both currently on 41 points, and face Blackburn Rovers and Leicester City respectively.

The meeting of Hull and Leicester provides the Foxes with a chance to haul themselves into the race at the top of the division as they currently sit fifth, just four points behind the Tigers.

Watford are further back, sitting seventh, but could climb into the Play-Offs over the festive period and will fancy their chances on the 26th against lowly Bristol City. The Robins currently reside outside of the bottom three but could easily drop into the relegation zone over the next two matches.

The sides currently in the bottom three all have matches against teams in the bottom half on Boxing Day. Peterborough United are away to 18th-placed Wolverhampton Wanderers, Sheffield Wednesday are on the road to meet Bolton Wanderers, who sit 13th, while Barnsley entertain Birmingham.

The Play-Offs could look a lot different come close of play on the 26th as Leeds United, Blackpool, Derby County, Nottingham Forest and the aforementioned Watford could move into the top six.

Leeds and Forest meet at the City Ground, Michael Appleton and his Tangerines are on the road to Huddersfield Town, while Derby take on Burnley.

The remaining match on Boxing Day sees Charlton Athletic host Mick McCarthy's improving Ipswich Town.

Click here for all the weekend's action