As there’s another post due on Friday, rather than mess about with a two part midweek post due to Newcastle playing tomorrow here are the highlights of the round:
Birmingham v Preston
Going back to last season, the Blues have only lost one of their last ten games in the Championship and are the top team in the Midlands in this section: it’s also fair to say that right now they’re meeting my pre-season expectations of play off contenders. Preston have won two of their last three and haven’t lost three consecutive away games since the start of last season, but have only won twice at St Andrew’s since 1971. Could be a few goals in this one – eight of the last ten matches between them in the league in Birmingham have produced over 2.5 goals.
Cardiff v Derby
Two Ricky Lambert goals at Rotherham enabled Cardiff to drag themselves out of the bottom three at the weekend but that was only their second win of the season and they’re currently on course for their first bottom half finish in the Championship for over a decade. Derby’s woes continued with their fourth defeat in six games: losing at home to Blackburn indicates to me that their current situation is more fragile than I’d anticipated – to the extent that I’ve started looking up recipes that involve hats.
A win for either side could kick start their campaigns, but Derby have struggled in the Welsh capital over the last decade: one win in eight attempts.
Huddersfield v Rotherham
Two defeats in the last three games have seen the Terriers lose control at the top of the table, but they’re still very much in the mix and could return – briefly – to the top of the pile this evening. Huddersfield have not had a similar run of home form at this level for 18 years and are probably lucky that they’re playing Rotherham this evening. Since 1980, the Millers have only won one of their last ten visits to Huddersfield in the league and they’re currently on a five game away losing streak.
Newcastle v Norwich (tomorrow)
Just when it looked like Newcastle were going to turn into the juggernaut that everyone seemed to think they were, they lose at home to Wolves and throw away a lead at Aston Villa. I’m still happy with my pre-season prediction of the playoffs: they don’t have a particularly difficult looking schedule next month so this game looks like a decent yardstick for the time being.
The Canaries have a four game undefeated streak to protect but I think it’s only fair to point out that four of their six wins have been against clubs in the bottom half of the table. They haven’t won at St. James’ Park for almost exactly 28 years and of the eight games this season between clubs currently in the top six, only one (Newcastle v Huddersfield) has resulted in an away win.
I’ll be back on Friday with the second part of the Market Reports series. Don’t forget we’ve got another round of World Cup Qualifiers coming up in a couple of weeks though: I’ll be taking that weekend off too.