Well it’s that time of the week again, the weekend, which can mean only one thing, two days of football to enjoy! Thus far the Championship has been an exciting ride and many pundits who had predicted great things for certain sides have been proven wrong, particularly in the case of Leicester and Ipswich whom occupy places far below the expectations. The counter to this of course is the excellent form shown by the three promoted sides who currently all reside in the top six, with Southampton sitting atop the pile with a 100% record. Derby have also surprised many who saw them as mid-table fodder at best. As such having a cursory glance at the fixtures, it would seem that this weekend is filled with some incredibly intriguing games and may yet prove to be a pivotal one in terms of how certain sides will fair this season.
Many pundits have stated that the pick of the weekend matches in the Championship is the titanic tussle between Nottingham Forest and West Ham. West Ham seem to have settled into life in the division well and will probably be relieved to still be within touching distance of their goal of automatic promotion; whilst Forest have underachieved thus far with only 5 points taken from a possible 12. As such both sides will see getting the full 3 points as a must today as in both cases it can propel the winner closer to a playoff or even automatic promotion spot. West Ham seem to have a bit of form going for them coming into the clash as they have picked up 7 points from their last three games and will be confident of improving that tally, whilst Forest will likely have drawn strength from their comeback against local rivals Leicester last weekend combined with a good win away to Doncaster in their previous game. As such both sides will probably feel that fate is on their side and will edge them to victory, I however am going to be bold and say that I see Forest nicking this one by a goal, especially as West Ham may still be frail from dropping points in their draw against Leeds.
This brings me nicely onto another match in the Championship which although featuring two sides place lower down in the table, could yet still take top billing from the above game for game of the weekend; that being the clash between Ipswich and Leeds. Both sides’ fans will have started the season with high hopes, certainly in the case of Leeds who were probably unlucky to miss out on a play-off berth last season. However in reality neither side has made what can be regarded as a bright start compared to the expectations for them with the hosts languishing in 20th and Leeds sitting 13th and 3 points from the play offs. As such both teams will be fighting to clinch as many points as possible as quickly as possible to ensure they close the gap with the top six and stay in contention for a spot there. Paul Jewell could be seen as a master of managing in this division seeing as he has masterminded the promotions of both Bradford and Wigan to the top flight in previous years and even more so when you consider that both sides were not exactly fancied to make the leap. Simon Grayson too has a good pedigree and will hope to build upon it this season with a concerted push on the play-offs. I suspect this match will end up being a draw but I have a strong feeling it could be one of the more entertaining draws of the weekend and certainly one in which both sides will leave everything on the pitch.
Looking at some other stand out matches for the weekend, Southampton face what looks like a tricky game away to Leicester but when you consider the Foxes home form and position in the table Southampton could yet walk away with all the spoils in this one. Brighton and Peterborough will renew acquaintances from last season with both sides looking to bolster their strong positions in the division and Doncaster seem to have a golden opportunity to pick up points against a Bristol City side who seem shaky.
Brighton 2 Peterborough 1
Crystal Palace 2 Blackpool 2
Derby 3 Burnley 1
Doncaster 1 Bristol City 1
Hull 2 Reading 0
Ipswich 1 Leeds 1
Leicester 1 Southampton 2
Middlesbrough 2 Coventry 1
Millwall 1 Barnsley 1
Nottingham Forest 1 West Ham 0
Portsmouth 2 Cardiff 2
Watford 0 Birmingham 1
Thanks for reading and I’ll be back in time for the next round of fixtures.
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