On Tuesday evening Philip Billing’s goal eight minutes from time meant Huddersfield beat Reading, a result that means the Terriers are now only four points behind Brighton at the top of the table.
It’s a big weekend at both ends of the table and amazingly both the televised games on Saturday are crucial matches at the top of the table. The fun starts this evening when there’s a big game at the other end, where there’s only a six point gap between Blackburn and Wolves.
Burton Albion v Blackburn Rovers (this evening, no TV coverage)
After a run of five straight defeats at home, Burton have won their last two and have a reasonable looking run in at the Pirelli Stadium that starts with Rovers’ first game under Tony Mowbray, who was appointed after Owen Coyle was sacked earlier in the week and hasn’t exactly been the most successful manager at this level.
He’s got his work cut out for him: Blackburn have won once in their last ten aways but haven’t earned all three points at any of the sides in the bottom half of the table at the moment. Considering only four of the 21 games between the teams currently in the bottom six have ended in away wins, Blackburn are clearly on the back foot here.
Leeds United v Sheffield Wednesday (12:30pm, Sky Sports 1)
There hasn’t been a draw in any of the 16 Yorkshire derbies so far this season, which may be significant considering this is Leeds’ last one of the season. Gary Monk’s side has only suffered two defeats at Elland Road in the last ten but United have only won two of their six games against the top six and that may be worth remembering when the playoffs come round. Wednesday were surprisingly beaten by Brentford at Hillsborough this week: they still have to travel to Barnsley and Rotherham before the season ends. Since the turn of the century, Wednesday have only won once at Leeds in six league games, but the last three have all finished 1-1. If this does finish as a draw, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Newcastle United v Bristol City
This could be the most one sided game in the Championship this weekend, but there are a couple of things to take into account. Four of Newcastle’s seven defeats have been against sides currently in the bottom half of the table – including both games against Blackburn – but in five of those losses, the current leaders have failed to score.
On the other hand, Bristol City haven’t kept an away clean sheet since September and haven’t scored in a league game at Newcastle since November 1977. One of those problems is down to Lee Johnson – who has seems to be immune from the sack – the other isn’t.
Brighton v Reading (5:30pm, Sky Sports 1)
This is another one that might not go the way it’s supposed to. Brighton’s thirteen game unbeaten run at the Amex will have to end soon but Reading will have only had four days rest after the defeat at Huddersfield on Tuesday night. That loss means that the Royals have now lost all of their away games to the teams immediately above them.
Albion have been really impressive at home in so many ways: only one home defeat, only Newcastle and Norwich have scored more goals at home and only nine goals conceded in 15 games, including eight clean sheets. But here’s the weird part: Brighton have only recorded two home victories against Reading in the last ten meetings and there were fourteen years between them.
Another thing worth noting: the reverse fixture finished 2-2 and so far is the only draw in games between the current top six this season.
The remaining televised games are a couple of derbies that will probably have little or no impact on the rest of the season: Wolves v Birmingham (tonight, 7:45pm Sky Sports 1) and The Old Farm Derby (Sunday, noon, Sky Sports 2)
I’ll be back on Tuesday for the clash between the top two.