Before having a look at the fixtures to come in mid-week lets first have a quick analysis of what happened at the weekend. There were certainly some interesting results over the weekend in this division and in some cases said results certainly went against the form book, including the shock result of Crystal Palace beating Burnley. In fact it could be stated that the Championship is far more open than I or a lot of other pundits have given it credit for being, something which if it’s true can only make the season even more interesting, and is reinforced by the fact that there are only four sides that have yet to register a point. Something else which seemed slightly stunning to me was the lack of draws in the division over the weekend, all 24 clubs were in action and surprisingly there wasn’t a single draw to be had, something which certainly seems a rarity to me.
The mid-week games scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday certainly throw up a few mouth-watering ties, if not by name value of the teams involved, their league positions certainly make them ones to watch. First and foremost it would appear the pressure is on Leeds boss Simon Grayson. Many, myself included, thought Leeds were capable of a storming season, especially considering they had won their last two games last season including against runaway promotion and championship favourites Q.P.R. However two games played in the league this time around and two games lost, a few fans are starting to question where it is all going wrong. A tough tie on Tuesday night against a gritty Hull side is next for Grayson and his charges and perhaps this game will provide them with a platform on which to restore some confidence and pride, especially as it is at Elland Road. Many Leeds fans will be clamouring for them to register a win to kick start their season whilst also securing some much needed bragging rights in the north of England, so for both fans and players this game is being seen as crucial. Their previous encounters last season both ended as 2-2 draws so this fixture may well have a few goals in it yet.
Southampton’s game with Ipswich should promote further interest in both clubs and in the case of Southampton firmly test just how well equipped they are to be challenging near the top of the division. Nigel Adkins’ and his charges have started the season well and currently are one of five sides whom have maximum points after two games; whereas Paul Jewell’s Ipswich after a great opening day win slipped up against Hull, so will be looking to make amends with this home clash with the Saints. Both sides have ambitions to push on from average league positions and campaigns in the past few years, particularly Southampton whom have just returned to this level after two years in the wilderness of League One so I would predict this to be among the pick of the mid-week games.
Other ties which look like they could be fascinating include the battle at Bloomfield Road between Blackpool and Derby and the intriguing fixture that matches up Cardiff and Brighton for another clash of high flying sides. In fact perusing the fixture list, there does not appear to be a single boring looking game in there.
Barnsley 1 Middlesbrough 1
Crystal Palace 2 Coventry 2
Doncaster 1 Nottingham Forest 2
Ipswich 1 Southampton 1
Leeds 1 Hull 2
Portsmouth 1 Reading 0
Watford 1 West Ham 3
Blackpool 3 Derby 1
Cardiff 2 Brighton 0
Leicester 3 Bristol City 1
Millwall 2 Peterborough 1
It’s still early days but I would suggest Leicester City can and will get their campaign back on track against a Bristol City side that definitely look like they are floundering this season, and as such Leicester now could embark on a good run to cement their credentials as a title contender. The same can also be said for Cardiff who I’m predicting a decent win for and perhaps they can now move forwards and establish a decent set of results which will put them in contention too.
As always I would love to hear what you think and if you agree or disagree, after all football is no fun if there isn’t room for a bit of debate in there too. Thanks for reading and I’ll be back in time to preview the weekend fixtures.
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