ON THE BOX
After a lengthy international break, Sky Bet Championship action returns to Cardiff City Stadium this Saturday lunchtime. As a featured televised game, kick-off has been moved to the earlier time of 12.15pm for the visit of Nottingham Forest. Russell Slade faces a tough opener as Cardiff City manager, Forest have started extremely strong in this campaign. They are still unbeaten in league action after 11 games. Despite this, Stuart Pearce’s men are without a win in their last four outings after four successive draws. However, the Bluebirds have not yet drawn a game in the Welsh capital so something has got to give come Saturday afternoon.
This week’s Friday night game will see Leeds United making the 34-mile trip, down the M1, to Rotherham. This is the first league encounter between the two Yorkshire rivals since a 0-0 draw back in 2005. A win on home soil for the Millers could see them move level with their opponents on 15 points.
TIGHT AT THE TOP
The Championship has lived up to the reputation of being one of the most competitive leagues in football. At the end of this weekend any one of eight teams could occupy top spot and there is only six points separating the top 14 teams in the division. One of the favourites to be sitting pretty at the top of the pile come Saturday evening are current leaders Norwich City. The Canaries face a trip south to Craven Cottage to face Fulham. Although the West London outfit are currently two place off the bottom, they have shown great battling spirit since a poor start to the campaign. Six of the seven points earned by the Cottagers have come in their last three games. Despite this, they have the second worst home record and face a Norwich team who have the best away tally so far.
Bournemouth and Charlton meet at the Goldsands Stadium with the Addicks being one of the eight teams who could find themselves top. Bob Peeters, like Stuart Pearce at Forest, has led his team to an unbeaten first 11 games. It could prove to be an interesting encounter as both The Cherries and Charlton have only failed to score on one occasion this season.
Middlesbrough has by far the longest trip of the weekend, as they make the 315-mile trip south to Brighton. Boro’ fans face a trying 11 hour round trip if they are to see their side attempt to extend their unbeaten run to seven games and possibly challenge for first place come Saturday evening. The Seagulls have a streak of their own, going seven wins without a victory and drawing their last four fixtures. The last Brighton win in front of the home fans came back in August with a 2-1 win against Bolton.
MANAGERIAL BOWS FOR SLADE, LENNON & JOKANOVIC
New City manager Russell Slade is not the only manager taking charge for the first time this weekend. Neil Lennon will be at the helm as Bolton Wanderers manager when they travel to St Andrews to play Birmingham City. Wanderers are bottom of the table on five points and are yet to pick up any points on the road this term. The Blues are not faring much better with just the one win at home so far.
A managerial merry-go-round at Vicarage Road hasn’t impacted the Hornets start to the new campaign in regards to their current league position. Watford has had four managers in the space of 37 days, with Slavisa Jokanovic taking over the reins. His first task is a long away trip to Sheffield Wednesday. The Hornets currently occupy third position, only behind first placed Norwich on goal difference.
Friday 17th October
Rotherham United v Leeds United
Saturday 18th October
Cardiff City v Nottingham Forest
Birmingham City v Bolton Wanderers
Bournemouth v Charlton Athletic
Brighton and Hove Albion v Middlesbrough
Fulham v Norwich City
Huddersfield Town v Blackpool
Ipswich Town v Blackburn Rovers
Millwall v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Reading v Derby County
Sheffield Wednesday v Watford
Wigan Athletic v Brentford