CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND PREVIEW
This weekend’s nPower Championship schedule begins on Friday night whenWolverhampton WanderersfaceBlackburn Roversat Molineux.
Both clubs have very much under-achieved so far this season, Wolves in eighteenth place, Blackburn in mid-table. Former Wales International Dean Saunders takes charge of Wolves for the first time, having been appointed from Doncaster Rovers last Sunday following the departure of Stale Solbakken and Wolves look to halt a run of four consecutive Championship and F.A. Cup defeats including their Third Round F.A. Cup exit at Luton Town last weekend. Blackburn are still without a permanent manager since the dismissal of Henning Berg on December 21st, but with coaches Gary Bowyer and Terry McPhillips in temporary charge they have won their last three Championship and F.A. Cup games.
TIGERS v.OWLS: At the top end of the table, second-placedHull Citymay find themselves out of the top two by the time that they face lowlySheffield Wednesdayat KC Stadium at 5.20pm on Saturday. But Hull have not conceded a goal in their last three Championship fixtures, and are currently unbeaten in their last eight League games (five wins, three draws). They have now signed Robbie Brady from Manchester United on a full transfer following his loan-spell, and David Meyler is now a full signing after his loan-spell from Sunderland was made permanent. It’s a vital game for Sheffield Wednesday in twenty-second position. They looked to be recovering from mid-December with three consecutive wins and a draw, but then lost 2-0 at home to Burnley on New Year’s Day followed by a 0-0 home draw against MK Dons in the F.A. Cup.
PALACE COULD GO SECOND:Third-placedCrystal Palacemay be able to take advantage of Hull’s late start when the Eagles go to mid-tableBurnley.It was a first win in six for Palace when they beat Wolves 3-1 at Selhurst Park on New Year’s Day, and they now have defender Damien Delaney back in action after his three-match suspension. As for Burnley, under former Watford manager Sean Dyche appointed at the end of October, they have won two of their last three League games and are only four points off the top six.
BORO v. HORNETS:Two of the current four Play-Off positions face each other on Saturday when fourth clubMiddlesbroughplay sixth-placedWatfordat Riverside Stadium. It’s the start of two vital games for Boro because their next fixture is at Leicester City a week this Friday. Watford, meanwhile, will want to recover after two consecutive League and Cup defeats in which they have conceded seven goals (3-4 at home to Charlton, 0-3 at Manchester City in the F.A. Cup).
23rd vs. 5th:Leicester City’s. Leicester look for a fourth consecutive League and Cup win - Bristol City have lost their last two in League and Cup.Bristol Cityrecent signing Chris Wood from West Bromwich Albion has scored three goals in his two League and Cup matches. He’ll be hoping that his scoring form continues when Leicester, in fifth spot, go to bottom-but-one
BARNSLEY v. LEEDS:A Yorkshire derby sees bottom of the tableBarnsley, with assistant David Flitcroft in temporary charge, at home to eighth clubLeedsUnitedwho could sneak into the top six if they win at Oakwell. Barnsley have won just once in their last fifteen League games and have lost the last three. But last Saturday’s 1-0 F.A. Cup win against Burnley might well give them confidence against a Leeds side who are still inconsistent.
NINTH v. TENTH:It could not be closer betweenBrighton & Hove AlbionandDerby Countywho play each other at Amex Stadium. Brighton are ninth, Derby are tenth, and both are on 37 points, three off the top six. Brighton will be boosted by last Saturday’s 2-0 F.A. Cup home win against Newcastle United while Derby go for their third consecutive League and Cup victory.
POSH IMPROVING: AlthoughPeterborough United, in twenty-first place, lost 3-0 at Norwich City in the F.A. Cup last weekend, they have won three of their last four League games. They will have former Dagenham & Redbridge forward Dwight Gayle back in their side for their match at mid-tableNottingham Forest, Gayle being cup-tied for last Saturday’s match, and he has scored seven goals in his nine appearances so far for Posh. As for Nottingham Forest, that 3-2 home defeat in the F.A. Cup by Oldham Athletic last weekend was not well received by Forest fans. In addition they had Wales defender Danny Collins sent off so he will be unavailable for the game against Peterborough.
WANDERERS v.LIONS:Millwall knowing that a win could put them in the Play-Off places.The Lions have won their last two League and Cup games and face a Bolton side who had forward Marvin Sordell making a rare start and scoring in last Saturday’s 2-2 F.A. Cup home draw with Sunderland.Bolton Wanderers, in seventh position go to mid-table
CHARLTON v. BLACKPOOL:A mid-table clash sees Charlton Athletic at home to Blackpool. The South London club have recovered from those three consecutive defeats in December and have now taken four points from their last two games. But Blackpool have not won in their last four games.
TERRIERS v. BLUES:It’s ten League games without a win forHuddersfield Townin seventeenth place and they lost 6-1 at Leicester on New Year’s Day. They have now signed defender Neil Danns on loan from Leicester and he is expected to make his debut at home to lowlyBirmingham Citythis Saturday. The Blues, in twentieth place and with just one win in six League games, are still beset by injury and suspension and last Saturday had seven teenagers in their squad for the 1-1 F.A. Cup draw at Leeds.