After an action packed international break full of drama it’s time for the return of the Championship and all the commotion that comes with it.
It has been a long time since the Bluebirds have taken to the turf of the Cardiff City Stadium and after a run of two away games and an international break. The three-week wait for home football is over as Cardiff City face Reading on Friday evening. Russell Slade’s team may have been struggling away from the Welsh capital but it has been a different story in Cardiff, winning six from a possible eight, a record only two points less than home form leaders Ipswich who have played one game more than City.
Reading enter the fixture having struggled on the road so far, picking up just five points out of a possible 24. Last time out saw the Royals go down 1-0 at the Madejski Stadium against Charlton Athletic. Reading are currently in 14th position in the table, two points and two places behind Cardiff City.
London will host two local battles this weekend, one on Friday evening and one on Saturday afternoon.
The first game features Brentford and Fulham. The Bees welcome the Cottagers to Griffin Park with the Fulham faithful only having to travel 5 miles from their base, Craven Cottage, to get to the game. The home team currently occupy the final playoff place while Kit Symons men are down in 17th position. Despite their lowly position Fulham have been a much greater threat in recent weeks. They are third in the form tables and have a run of six games without losing. Both teams are in form with Brentford winning their last three with wins at home against league leaders Derby and Nottingham Forest and away at Millwall.
Millwall are involved in the other local London clash as they also travel just five miles to match up against Charlton Athletic. Ian Holloway’s Lions have only lost four in the last 10 but only one of the results was a win. On the other hand, the Addicks under the stewardship of Bob Peeters have the least amount of losses in the division, losing on just two occasions. Neither of the two losses came at the Valley making Millwall’s task even more daunting. They will have to watch out for Igor Vetokele who has netted eight times so far for Athletic.
BATTLES UP NORTH
The teams in the Northern part of England have a little further to travel than the London teams but the fixtures are no less fierce. For Saturday’s early kick off Huddersfield Town host Sheffield Wednesday. Just over 25 miles separate the sides in distance, but eight games separate them in the head to head records. The Terriers have won 24 games in total compared to the Owls’ 16 victories. Last season they shared the spoils with both teams winning away from home. There is just a point between them in the league, with Wednesday having the advantage, but recent form is in the favour of the home team. Wednesday are without a win in nine and despite losing their last two outings, the two results are Town’s only defeats in their last nine.
There is also a Lancashire derby on Saturday afternoon as Bolton Wanderers visit Blackpool. These two teams are close in both geography and league position as they occupy 21st and 24th position respectively. The Tangerines have still managed just the one win in 17 games while Bolton have turned their form around under new manager Neil Lennon. They have won just five games all year but four of these have come in their last six games and all four under their new gaffer.
TOP OF THE TABLE
Four of the top five will face each other this weekend as the battle for top spot continues. Any one of the top five teams could end the weekend in pole position. League leaders Derby County travel down to Hertfordshire to play fifth placed Watford at Vicarage Road. After slipping up and losing two games in succession, the Rams are back to winning ways with two wins on the bounce. The opposite can be said for the Hornets who after a run of nine games without defeat have now lost their last two. County have the league’s top goal scorer at their disposal, Chris Martin and also have Johnny Russell who has notched up five assists. The link between these two Scotland internationals could prove vital on Saturday afternoon if they are to secure three points.
AFC Bournemouth will be looking to continue their fantastic form when Ipswich Town visits the Goldsands Stadium. Eddie Howe has led his team to a seven game unbeaten run including six wins. Even their draw was an impressive one, coming away at third placed Middlesbrough. Mick McCarthy’s men also have a rich vein of form, losing once in their last ten and winning three games in succession. Bournemouth are the top scorers in the league with 33 goals and have a resolute defence, only conceding 16 in 17 games. The Cherries defence may face its toughest test of the season with the front two of David McGoldrick and Daryl Murphy in attack for the Tractor Boys. Murphy is joint top scorer with 10 so far and McGoldrick has also chipped in with five. It could prove to be an intriguing tie on the south coast.
FULL CHAMPIONSHIP FIXTURE LIST
15.00 unless stated
Friday 21 November
Brentford v Fulham (19.45)
Cardiff City v Reading (19.45)
Saturday 22 November
Huddersfield v Sheff Wed (12.15)
Blackburn v Leeds
Blackpool V Bolton
Bournemouth v Ipswich
Charlton v Millwall
Norwich v Brighton
Rotherham v Birmingham
Watford v Derby
Wigan v Middlesbrough
Wolves v Nottingham Forest