Championship Movers and Shakers this weekend

In the second of our Previews, CM talks about movers and shakers in the Championship before tomorrows home match against Nottingham Forest.

At 5pm tomorrow evening, the mighty Addicks could rise to as high as 8th position and there’ll be talk of the play-offs on the terraces, should they take all three points. Conversely, a loss to the Reds from Nottingham could mean Charlton slip down to 15th place and mutterings of relegation and League One doom. It shows just how volatile the season has been and in this weekend’s Championship preview, we take a look at the full list of other fixtures up and down the country.

Harry Kane - Leicester City FCStarting at Bloomfield Road where Blackpool take on the Foxes of Leicester City, the team from which we grabbed three precious points in midweek. The Blues will be looking to recover from back to back losses as the result in midweek leaves them 9 points behind 2nd placed Hull.    Nigel Pearson added on loan Harry Kane  from Spurs to his squad on Thursday afternoon and you would expect him to be heavily involved in their final 15 games of the season.

league table 23.2Ince’s men, this weekend’s home side, will be looking for points after also picking up nothing from their last two matches. Poor old Blackpool are struggling in 15th place after beginning their fifth managerial spell of the season, this time under Paul Ince, Tom’s father. Ince Snr. made four changes for his first game in charge at Elland Road in midweek and it’ll be interesting to see how he moulds their talented squad into a team.

Leeds United won that game on Wednesday night 2-0 thanks to goals from David Norris and Steve Morison, a striker on loan from Norwich who all Charlton fans should have less than fond memories of during that 09/10 season. Leeds will be looking to push upwards into the play-off shake-up at cup quarter-finalists Blackburn this weekend but the Lancashire club have play-off aspirations of their own and it could be a very important three points for the team who wins on the day.

On the south coast, there will be another battle between two play-off hopefuls. Brighton lie in 7th place and Burnley in 12th. Brighton have hit a purple patch of form in Championship, losing only twice in their last 10 fixtures and this has pushed them to the front of the chasing pack. Burnley, in contrast, are without a win in four and need three points to get their play-off push restarted. Brighton have one of the meanest home defences in the Championship and so it’s tough to see Burnley securing the victory they desperately need but they have explosive players (none more so than Charlie Austin and Kieran Trippier) and as we’ve seen many times this season, any team can beat any other on their day.

Tony Mowbray - MiddlesboroughLooking over their shoulder in 6th place, it’s Middlesbrough. Boro will host our neighbours from Bermondsey in the 5:20pm kick-off this weekend having picked up just 4 points from their last 8 matches. Millwall have fared worse, with only 4 points from 9, and it promises to be the clash of the two out-of-sorts clubs. Both managers will see this one as an opportunity to pull three points out of the bag and get their campaigns back on track. With numerous clubs poised to leap frog Middlesbrough in coming weeks and Millwall being dragged into a relegation fight, pressure will be on both sets of players to perform in this one.

A team hoping to leap frog Millwall this weekend are Bolton. With one defeat in their last six matches, Dougie Freedman will be George Boyd - Hull Cityhoping his side can cause somewhat of an upset when they host 2nd placed Hull. Hull themselves have only lost once in their last six and so you would imagine a draw would be the most likely result at the Reebok. Hull brought in George Boyd on loan on Thursday evening and will be hoping he can make the difference in the final quarter of the campaign and secure them a place in the top two after 46 games.

Watford, who are now in 3rd, are ready to pounce on any slips that Hull might make. The Hornets have hit a purple patch under Gianfranco Zola and have won 7 of their last 10 games, picking up 22 points in the process. Derby are the opponents at Vicarage Road. Derby will be hoping to push on from their current 10th position and avoid another season of mid-table obscurity but with only two wins from their last ten matches, it’s difficult see how Nigel Clough’s men will win the three points this weekend.

As we move towards the bottom three, we see that Huddersfield welcome the Tractor Boys of Ipswich to the John Smith’s Stadium. With neither side yet safe from relegation, this must be seen as a relegation six pointer by both sets of supporters. Mark Robins, recently appointed Huddersfield manager, will be hoping for an upturn in fortunes with only one win in ten, whilst inconsistent Ipswich will be hoping to put the Terries to the sword.

In the weekend’s second clash of the B’s, Bristol City play host to Barnsley. Despite falling to the foot of the table, Sean O’Driscoll’s side have won three of their last six matches. They’ll need to win another this weekend against in-form Ryan Tunnicliffe - Manchester UnitedBarnsley to avoid being cut adrift from the safety-chasing pack. Barnsley themselves will be looking for their fifth straight win which would push them up to the 40 point mark. Manchester United loanee Ryan Tunnicliffe signed on Thursday and could feature for the Tykes.

Without a loss in six, Sheffield Wednesday will be hoping to emulate Barnsley recent success and where better to start than three points against Crystal Palace? Of course, the Eagles won’t see it that way. With three wins in their last four, the side based in Croydon will be in high spirits when they travel to Hillsborough. One thing is for sure, it will be a vital three points for the side who takes them. Palace could see themselves just one point off 2nd, whilst Wednesday will be spurred on by the opportunity to propel themselves into mid-table.

peterborough5-1millwallIn the last of the Saturday kick-offs, Peterborough take on Birmingham with both sides in desperate need of three points. Peterborough will be hoping that London Road is the perfect place to build on their 5-1 win at the Den last time out, whilst Lee Clark’s underperforming Blues need three points to push clear of the relegation pack.

The Championship offers one more fixture on Sunday afternoon. Dean Saunders’ Wolves will host run-away leaders Cardiff in a game from which it appears Wolves must take something if they have any aspirations of surviving in this division for next season. The club slipped into the bottom three after the set midweek results and it doesn’t look too rosy for the boys in gold shirts (with no wins in the last ten fixtures). Cardiff, on the other hand, are flying high this season and would be hugely disappointed with anything other than the three points on Sunday afternoon.

championship fixtures 23.2 CM


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