18 of the 24 sides in the Championship are in action on Saturday with some crunch matches at both ends of the table at this early stage of the season. We preview five of those in detail.
Burnley v QPR
Where else to start. Arguably the stand out game of the 3 o’clock kick offs in all the leagues this weekend sees the top two in the Championship clash at Turf Moor. At the start of the season QPR were everyone’s favourites to win the league and they haven’t disappointed, an ever present at the summit of the Championship from the first couple of weeks of the season. However, one team are above them in the table and it is the early season surprise package in Sean Dyche’s Burnley. The clarets have been playing some great football and deserve to sit top of the table. The key man in this game is Burnley’s Danny Ings. The Hampshire born striker has been in top form this season scoring seven leagues goals so far and he will probably need to be on the mark again if his team are going to come out on top. It is huge game for so early on in the season and both sides won’t want to leave Turf Moor without any points.
Score prediction: 2-2
Barnsley v Sheffield Wednesday
The early kick off live on Sky Sports is at the opposite end of the Championship table with 22nd place Barnsley hosting 23rd place Sheffield Wednesday. Barnsley picked up only their second win of the season last weekend at home to Middlesborough, a result which possibly saved Tykes boss David Flitcroft his job.Wednesday have had their worst start to a season in fourteen years with just seven points and no wins thus far. It is a testament to the respective chairmen to keep faith with their managers but either boss may receive his P45 if they don’t take all three points from this one. Chris O’Grady has being carrying the majority of the Barnsley goal threat this season and he will want to add to his early tally against a leaking Sheffield defence and he is this games key man. With the two worst defences in the league this game is guaranteed goals.
Score prediction: Barnsley win 3-1
Leicester City v AFC Bournemouth
After a memorable draw at the City Ground last week for Eddie Howe’s men the Championship acid tests continue with a trip to the promotion contender Leicester City who are on the cusp of the top two. Leicester have a lethal front two in David Nugent and Jamie Vardey who have bagged nine league goals between them. Although Bournemouth have picked up some valuable points away from home this season they have only managed to score more than once on a single occasion and against the foxes powerful attack they are going to need to do so to hope to pick up the three points. The key man in this match is Bournemouth centre half Elliott Ward, featuring in every game bar one this season Ward has established himself and his experience at this level is essential to the cherries defence stability which will be tested by Nugent and Vardey. Leicester are right in contention for automatic promotion this season whilst anything Bournemouth take from this game will be seen as a bonus.
Score prediction: Leicester win 2-1
Reading v Millwall
Two of the current in form teams in the Championship meet at the Madejski as they continue to meet differing aims for the season. Nigel Adkins preseason brief was inevitably to launch a return straight back to the Premier League. After a sticky start to the season the Royals have climbed the table and go into this one looking to maintain their unbeaten home record. Millwall had a nightmare start to the season losing of their first games but have steady the ship, drawing with promotion favourites QPR and are scoring goals for fun. A clean sheet from Reading and they will be well on their way to a victory and young keeper Alex McCarthy hopes to return from injury. If he is not fit Adam Federici will once again deputise. Whoever features will hope to help the Royals to a win with a clean sheet and for that reason the Reading keeper is this matches key man. With their great home form Reading go into this one as favourites.
Score prediction: Reading win 2-0
Blackpool v Blackburn
Two of the leagues early promotion hopefuls clash at Bloomfield road. Paul Ince serves the second game of his five game ground ban but that didn’t affect his side last time out as they battled to a 1-0 win against Wigan. Blackburn have started the season again reliant on the goal scoring prowess of Jordan Rhodes to pick up much needed victories with the scot netting nine this campaign. Both sides have struggled to put a sustained run of wins together thus far but both will be hopeful of that to change in the not to distant future. One Ince may not be at the game, but the home crowd will be right behind the one that is. The key man Tom Ince continues to impress at this level and will be the tangerines main goal threat as they aim to take the three points. It is going to be a battle which could see a rather scrappy affair.
Score prediction: Blackpool win 1-0
Remaining fixtures with predictions
Huddersfield 1 Leeds 1
Bolton 1 Ipswich 2
Derby 3 Birmingham 1
Yeovil 0 Notts Forest 2
Charlton 1 Wigan 1
Brighton 2 Watford 1
Middlesbrough 4 Doncaster 0