FourFourTwo preview the best fixtures as we prepare for another weekend of action packed Championship football.
MATCH OF THE ROUND
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY VS SHEFFIELD UNITED (SUNDAY, 10:15PM AEST)
The big talking point: The Steel City derby returns after a five-year hiatus. When the Championship fixtures were released, this would have been the first encounter that both sets of fans would have been searching for. The last time these two teams met, Wednesday came out on top as they defeated the Blades 1-0 at Hillsborough.
These two fierce rivals have gone head to head 140 times and as the record stands they each have 48 wins to their name. A win will guarantee the supporters of either side the bragging rights over their near neighbours momentarily as well as historically as they look to sway the record in favour of their respective side.
What will happen: A thrilling encounter befitting to the occasion. Both sets of fans will be more than ready for the encounter with their cross-town rivals and that sort of passion will be translated onto the pitch. All the players involved in the match will be well aware of the stakes and they’ll produce for their side and fight tooth and nail until the very end.
What won’t happen: Violence in the stands. There will be plenty of hype surrounding this mammoth encounter throughout the week but come Sunday, all the talking will be done on the field. The two sides have mutual respect for one another and fan violence won’t be the major talking point after the final whistle.
The Blades released a statement earlier in the week criticising the violence from their supporters during their last match with Norwich at Bramall Lane. This statement shows United’s intent to stamp out violence and they’ll hope Wednesday does likewise at Hillsborough this weekend.
FFT predicts: 1-1
BOLTON WANDERERS VS BRENTFORD (SUNDAY, 12AM AEST)
The big talking point: Eight rounds in and neither side have won a league encounter. Bolton Wanderers sit rooted to the bottom of the ladder while Brentford sit two places above them in the relegation zone. Since the home side’s promotion from League 1 last campaign, they’ve struggled to adapt to life in the Championship.
The Trotters have shown little promise in their opening matches and look odds on favourites to bounce back to the third tier of English football. Meanwhile, Brentford look like a side in real danger, yet to win this campaign the Bees lack the firepower in front of goal. Hurt by the loss of their creative dynamo, Jota to Birmingham, the West London side may struggle to survive this season.
What will happen: A cagey affair. Both sides are low on confidence and it will take some time before the game comes to life. Playing in front of their supporters, Bolton will want to score early, if not, they may face the prospect of their loyal fan base slowly turning on them as the game wears on.
What won’t happen: Champagne football. With the pair eager to secure their first three points of the campaign, tiki taka football is unlikely and the game may be ugly on the eye from a neutral’s perspective.
FFT predicts: 1-1
LEEDS UNITED VS IPSWICH TOWN (SUNDAY, 12AM AEST)
The big talking point: How will Leeds respond after their first league loss? The Yorkshire outfit were ambushed by Millwall in their previous league encounter at The Den. Despite their loss, Thomas Christiansen’s men bounced back in their midweek EFL Cup fixture with Burnley, triumphant in the penalty shootout following a 2-2 draw.
What will happen: A great day out at Elland Road. The Leeds faithful will turn out in numbers and act as the 12th man for their beloved outfit in their clash with Ipswich. The Tractor Boys are fresh from securing their first win in three matches and Mick McCarthy has backed his side to keep doing the “horrible things” needed to win.
Ipswich will provide tough opposition for United and a win is far from guaranteed for the home side. For Leeds to win, they must be patient as they look to break down a stubborn Ipswich defence.
What won’t happen: Leeds won’t keep a clean sheet. United are yet to concede at Elland Road this season however the visit of Mick McCarthy’s side might put an end to the impressive record. The away side are more than capable of causing an upset and will score at least once in this encounter.
FFT predicts: 2-1
PRESTON NORTH END VS MILLWALL (SUNDAY, 12AM AEST)
The big talking point: Preston – unbeaten in their last five league encounters. The Lilywhites have shown they’re a force to be a reckoned with under new manager, Alex Neil. The Scotsman has overseen his side’s rise up the table, the Lancashire club sit in the playoffs in a remarkable fourth place.
What will happen: Preston will overpower Millwall. Despite the Lions coming off a stunning 1-0 win over Championship frontrunners, Leeds, they may struggle to contain the Lilywhites formidable attacking force.
Australian defender, James Meredith may find it difficult to deal with Preston’s attacking threat however if they can produce a similar display to last week then they’re in with a fighting chance.
What won’t happen: Alex Neil’s side won’t be responsible for another managerial sacking. Following Preston’s dominant result over Birmingham in their previous fixture, Blues boss, Harry Redknapp was sacked.
Millwall may not win this fixture, but they should rest easy knowing that their boss, Neil Harris won’t get the boot.
FFT predicts: 2-1
SUNDERLAND VS CARDIFF CITY (SUNDAY, 12AM AEST)
The big talking point: Sunderland’s dismal start to life in the Championship. The north-east club haven’t tasted victory since the second round and currently sit in a precarious position, just above the relegation zone.
If they don’t watch out they could add themselves to the unwanted list of clubs who have experienced successive relegations.
What will happen: Cardiff will return to winning ways. The Bluebirds have experienced a wane in form recently however a trip to the north-east should bear fruit for Neil Warnock’s side.
The Welsh outfit are fighting for top spot in the Championship and will consider Simon Grayson’s Sunderland as a perfect candidate as they look to continue their fine start to the season.
What won’t happen: A repeat of the last time these two sides met. Their previous matchup at The Stadium of Light in the 2013/14 Premier League season saw the home side triumph 4-0. Based on their current positions in the league, it’s highly unlikely that we’d see history repeat itself.
FFT predicts: 1-3
ASTON VILLA VS NOTTINGHAM FOREST (SUNDAY, 2:30AM AEST)
The big talking point: Villa’s record against Forest. In their last four encounters, Aston Villa have failed to beat Nottingham Forest. The Midlands outfit have lost twice and drawn twice against Forest and will no doubt be wary heading into this fixture.
What will happen: The match will end all square. Both sides sit in midtable obscurity and haven’t had the best of starts to this campaign. Steve Bruce’s side grabbed a comfortable 3-0 victory over Barnsley in their last league encounter while Mark Warburton’s Forest outfit have struggled for consistency following their bright start to the season.
What won’t happen: The home side won’t draw a blank at Villa Park. The Villains have failed to score at home in the league since their first home game against Norwich. They should confidently put that record to bed on Sunday.
FFT predicts: 2-1