The weekend’s fixtures from the Championship will see sides that had become accustomed to early season winning form now dealing in crises of confidence, while at the same time sides who started poorly are beginning to gather momentum. Will it be all change again?
BIRMINGHAM CITY v HUDDERSIFIELD, 15.00, St Andrews
Lee Clark sees the visit of the club which sacked him last season as his Birmingham City side host Huddersfield Town. The Terriers disposed of Clark in February citing a fear that the manager might not achieve their goal of promotion – this despite a 43-game unbeaten run. Huddersfield appointed Simon Grayson and won promotion, while Clark gained his own promotion by becoming the Blues boss – a win-win outcome for both.
The same can’t be said for current form of either side however. Both suffered midweek defeats, with Huddersfield losing 2-0 to Leicester City while Clark’s side fell to a 2-1 defeat at Cardiff City.
What to out for:
Huddersfield’s last clean sheet was four games ago, while Birmingham City are tied for the third-worst goal difference in the league – so goals might come easily for both sides. Birmingham’s Marlon King has scored four goals so may be a good bet to score against the Terriers.
Birmingham – Butland, Spector, Caldwell, Pablo, Murphy, Elliott, Burke, Mullins, Caddis, Lita, Lovenkrands
Huddersfield – Smithies, Dixon, Clarke, Gerrard, Hunt, Norwood, Clayton, Ward, Southern, Scannell, Novak
Recent form: Birmingham – WDWLWL, Huddersfield – DWWWLL
BLACKBURN ROVERS v WOLVES, Ewood Park, 15.00
Steve Kean wasn’t wanted at Blackburn, that much was clear. His departure finally came last week as he resigned citing the untenable position he found himself in. Despite a positive start to the campaign, a single defeat was enough for questions regarding the manager’s position to once again arise, and it took just days for the situation to reach its conclusion.
Rovers haven’t won a game since, collecting two draws in their last two fixtures. Their opponents, Wolverhampton Wanderers, haven’t had as tumultuous a week but they did taste defeat for the first time in five games when they lost to Crystal Palace on Tuesday night.
What to watch out for:
In Slyvan Ebanks-Blake, Wolves have a striker who has found his goalscoring form once more. Five goals this season makes him Stale Solbakken’s first choice up-front. The striker scored against Crystal Palace and, in this current form shouldn’t be bet against to score again.
Blackburn – Robinson, Orr, M. Olsson, Dann, Hanley, Formica, Pedersen, Murphy, Etuhu, Rhodes, Gomes.
Wolves – Ikeme, Zubar, Johnson, Berra, Ward, Sigurdarson, Edwards, Davis, Boukari, Ebanks-Blake, Doyle
Recent form: Blackburn – DWWLDD, Wolves – LWWWWL
BLACKPOOL v CHARLTON, Bloomfield Road, 15:00
Neither Charlton nor Blackpool have had form to be proud of in recent weeks. Blackpool went through a rough spell which has seen them win 3 of their last six games, while Charlton have seen just one win in that same period. Blackpool are currently fourth in the table and, following a 3-2 win at Hull City thanks to Nouha Dicko’s fantastic overhead kick, will look to once again build promotion-worthy momentum. For Charlton, the current focus will be on moving away from the lower reaches of the league.
What to watch for:
Riccardo Fuller is a proven scorer in the Championship and the former Stoke City striker has already shown his worth for Charlton, scoring two goals for the club since joining a few weeks ago. Blackpool have also struggled to keep clean sheets recently so may struggle to deal with Fuller’s direct approach.
Blackpool – Blackpool – Gilks, Baptiste, Eardley, Cathcart, Crainey, Gomes, Osbourne, Angel, Taylor-Flethcer, Ince, Delfouneso
Charlton – Hamer, Morrison, Solly, Cort, Wiggins, Holland, Jackson, Stephens, Pritchard, Wright-Phillips, Fuller
Recent form: Blackpool – LDWLLW, Charlton – LLLWDL
CRYSTAL PALACE v BURNLEY, Selhurst Park, 15:00
Crystal Palace are a team in a hot streak of form which has seen them rise through the ranks to seventh in the league with a run of five wins and a draw in the last six games. Palace’s strength has come from a resolved defensive unit and an attack which features free-scoring Glen Murray and England U-21 hotshot Wilfried Zaha.
Burnley have their own hotshot in Charlie Austin, the nation’s top scorer. Austin has scored 14 goals in all competitions this season, his most recent goals coming in the shape of a hat-trick at Sheffield Wednesday in a 3-3 draw during the week. Manager Eddie Howe has rued his team’s defensive errors which have turned winning positions into drawing outcomes.
What to look out for:
Palace’s attacking trio of Zaha, Murray and Yannick Bolasie are causing problems for almost every side they face, while Palace will have to find a way to keep Austin quiet. The fire-power on show should provide an entertaining competition.
Burnley – Grant, Tripper, Shackell, Edgar, Mills, Stanislas, Marney, McCann, Stewart, Vokes, Austin
Palace – Speroni, Blake, Ward, Delaney, Moxey, Jedinak, Garvan, Zaha, Moritz, Bolasie, Murray
Recent form: Palace – WWDWWW, Burnley – LWLWDD
DERBY COUNTY v BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION, Pride Park , 15:00
Brighton’s stellar start to the season is faltering a little at the moment, as the south-coast side have lost one and drawn one of their last two fixtures. The good news for Gus Poyet is that the last draw was one they achieved from a losing position; so the Seagulls are clearly ready to fight for points – something they’ll have to do if they want to come away with anything from Pride Park.
Derby County have lost just one of their home games this season, and have had a recent upturn in form which has seen them beat Nottingham Forest and draw with Middlesbrough – a point they won with a late equalizer from Paul Coutts.
What to look out for:
Brighton’s dip coincides with the loss of Craig Mackail-Smith to a hamstring injury, and the Scotland international is unlikely to return to full training until after the international break. The Seagulls have so far failed to find a player that can score the goals Mackail-Smith scored, but in Stephen Dobie, Kazenga Lua-Lua and Will Buckley they certainly have players capable of scoring more regularly.
Derby – Fielding, O’Connor, Brayford, Keogh, Roberts, Bryson, Coutts, Hendick, Hughes, Ward, Sammon
Brighton – Kuszczak, Bruno, Greer, El-Abd, Bridge, Orlandi, Buckley, Dicker, Bridcutt, Dobie, Barnes
Recent form: Derby – WLWLWD, Brighton – WWWWLD
Prediction – 2-2
LEEDS UTD v BARNSLEY, Elland Road, 15:00
Leeds United came away with a disappointing 2-2 midweek draw at Bolton having had the chances to win the fixture, and despite this result having the potential to dampen the mood slightly, Leeds’ form in recent weeks has been outstanding. Pivotal to their surge has been El-Hadji Diouf – a player Warnock once derided as a sewer rat – as the Senegalese attacker’s addition to the squad has brought experience to the side.
For Barnsley, the thrashing they gave Birmingham City is a distant memory following a 1-1 draw against strugglers Ipswich Town and a 2-0 midweek defeat to Peterborough. The Tykes will look to eight-goal Craig Davies to score a few more if they are to stave off relegation for another season.
Leeds – Kenny, Peltier, Lees, Pearce, Drury, Austin, Norris, Diouf, Varney, Becchio, Gray
Barnsley – Gonzalez, Stone, Wiseman, Foster, Golbourne, Dawson, Cywka, Mellis, Davies, Harewood, Etutu
Recent form: Leeds – DLLWWD, Barnsley – WDLWDL
LEICESTER CITY v BRISTOL CITY, King Power Stadium, 15:00
Four wins in a row have seen Leicester City shoot up the league into second place, and the Foxes are playing some wonderful football in the process. The headlines during the week went to Anthony Knockaert who scored a double against Huddersfield, the first of which was a goal of the season contender from 35-yards. Of the four wins, two have come at home – a statistic Bristol City will need to be weary of.
Bristol City meanwhile have struggled to find any meaningful form this season. The Robins have won just one of their last six games leaving manager Derek McInnes frustrated. City have had the better of chances in recent weeks but have been toothless in making those opportunities count.
What to look out for:
A 35-yard thunderbolt from Knockaert might be worth looking out for, considering the goal he scored at Huddersfield during the week. The French winger has scored a total of three goals this season, putting him third in the club’s goalscoring charts behind Jamie Vardy and David Nugent.
Leicester – Schmeichel, De Laet, Morgan, Moore, Konchesky, Marshall, Drinkwater, King, Knockaert, Nugent, Vardy
Bristol City – Heaton, Cunningham, Carey, Wilson, Fontaine, Adomha, Skuse, Pearson, Woolford, Stead, Baldock
Recent form: Leicester – WLWWWW, Bristol City – LLWDLD
MILLWALL v BOLTON, The Den, 15:00
Millwall haven’t won a game in five of their last fixtures and have been somewhat lucky to come away with draws in their most recent two fixtures. Darius Henderson has been the man to restore some faith for the Lions with two goals in the last two games securing draws on both occasions. The Lions currently sit third from bottom in the table.
For Bolton Wanderers, the Championship adventure has so far been a bit of a nightmare. The Wanderers have struggled for consistency in the league with draws and defeats follow wins meaning that Owen Coyle’s side haven’t yet won any games in a row.
What to look out for:
Millwall haven’t kept a clean sheet in ten games while Bolton haven’t done so in seven – both sides are capable of scoring so this should be another entertaining Championship match. It’ll be a battle of the holding forwards with Davies at one end and Henderson at the other. Both are in form so both will cause difficulty for their opponents.
Millwall – Taylor, Dunne, Osborne, Lowry, Malone, Henry, Wright, Trotter, Abdou, Woods, Keogh
Bolton – Bogdan, Mears, Mills, Knight, Ricketts, Eagles, Andrew, M Davies, Lee, K Davies, Sordell
Recent form: Millwall – WLLLDD, Bolton – LWLWLD
PETERBOROUGH v NOTTINGHAM FOREST, London Road, 15:00
For Darren Ferguson it was just a matter of time until his side collected their first win, and having collected that at Hull on Saturday, Posh went on to win another at Barnsley on Tuesday night. The domino effect comes at the right time for Peterborough with the visit of a Nottingham Forest side going through a bit of a lull in form.
Forest’s results in the last week haven’t been entirely positive. A defeat to fierce rivals Derby County was followed by a performance against Blackburn which could have been worthy of a defeat, so the emphasis for Sean O’Driscoll will be on returning to the winning form witnessed at the start of the season.
What to look out for:
Peterborough are now just a win away from getting out of the bottom three, and Posh have their attacking trio of Tyrone Barnett, George Boyd and Emile Sinclair to thank for their sudden spell of wins. The three attackers will be key to Peterborough winning their first home game of the season.
Peterborough – Olejnik, Little, Brisley, Zakuani, Alcock, Bostwick, Swanson, McCann, Tomlin, Boyd, Barnett
Forest – Camp, Moloney, Halford, Collins, Harding, Gillett, Coppinger, McGugan, Reid, Cox, Blackstock
Recent form: Peterborough – LLLLWW, Forest – WDDLLD
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY v HULL CITY, Hillsborough, 15:00
Wednesday’s run of defeats came to an end midweek with a 3-3 draw against Burnley, with each of Burnley’s goals responded to by Dave Jones’ resilient side. The manager will look to take advantage of Hull’s own dip in form.
For Steve Bruce, three wins in a row have been followed by three defeats with the Tigers conceding three goals in each of them. Most concerning for Hull fans will be the loss to Peterborough last weekend, with the other two results coming against in-form Leicester and Blackpool.
What to look for:
If Steve Bruce’s side are to find their winning form again, they’ll have to find a way to prevent goals from being conceded; not an easy task for a side that have conceded 14 goals already this season.
Wednesday – Kirkland, Buxton, Mattock, Taylor, Llera, J Johnson, Semedo, McCabe, Antoni, Bothroyd, Rodri
Hull – Amos, Chester, Bruce, Dudgeon, Faye, Olofinjana, Elmohamady, Koren, Quinn, Aluko, Simpson
Recent form: Wednesday – LLLLLD, Hull – WWWLLL
Prediction – 2-1
WATFORD v MIDDLESBROUGH, Vicarage Road, 15:00
Watford are currently sitting mid-table thanks to an upturn in results which has seen them collect wins at Huddersfield and Charlton this week. Gianfranco Zola’s side managed to collect the 2-1 win at Charlton despite having Fernando Forestieri sent off having collected a second booking for simulation.
In Lukas Jutkiewicz, Middlesbrough have a striker on a great run of form. The Polish attacker has scored four goals in the last three games for Boro and looks confident.
What to look for:
Watford secured successive league wins for the first time under Gianfranco Zola when they defeated Charlton at the Valley and they’ll be intent on continuing the run. Goals from Almen Abdi and Matej Vydra will no doubt help.
Watford – Almunia, Doyley, Nosworthy, Dickinson, Yeates, Hogg, Murray, Pudil, Abdi, Vydra, Iwelumo
Middlesbrough – Steele, Hoyte, Amougou, Friend, Woodgate, Leadbitter, Thomson, McEachran, Emnes, Carayol, Miller.
Recent form: Watford – LLLDWW, Middlesbrough – LWLWLD
Prediction – 3-2
IPSWICH TOWN v CARDIFF CITY, Portman Road, 17:20
Ipswich manager Paul Jewell was disappointed by the way his side conceded late in the game against Brighton & Hove Albion, having taken the lead through Daryl Murphy. The Tractor Boys have struggled for form with no wins in six.
League leaders Cardiff City have recovered well from the defeat inflicted by Crystal Palace, securing wins against Blackpool and Birmingham City to push them to the top of the table.
What to look for:
Peter Whittingham has scored six goals this season and is a constant threat for opposing teams, not just from his goals but also from his vision and composure. The midfielder was linked with a Premier League move during the summer but Cardiff City did an amazing job at holding off potential suitors.
Ipswich – Loach, Ainsley, Smith, Chambers, Cresswell, Martin, Drury, Luongo, Murphy, Taylor, Chopra
Cardiff – Marshall, McNaughton, Taylor, Hudson, Connolly, Mutch, Whittingham, Noone, Smith, Helguson, Bellamy
Recent form: Ipswich – DLLLDD, Cardiff – WWWLWW
Prediction – 1-3
Tags: Burnley, Cardiff City, Championship, Crystal Palace, Peterborough