The most recent games in the nPower Championship seem to have shed some light on how the rest of the season could pan out – QPR now have a four point lead and they’re the only undefeated team in the Championship. Their latest win was a 2-0 win over Leicester, although they left it late to ensure victory as John Mackie’s eighth goal of season came only four minutes from full time.
Queens Park Rangers were handed an advantage when Ipswich beat Cardiff 2-0 to move into second place; this was a case of history repeating itself as the last time the Bluebirds suffered consecutive defeats in the league was last March – when they lost to Ipswich and Leicester!
QPR’s main competitors will have to take advantage of any opportunities they get this weekend. Neil Warnock’s side are at home this weekend to Doncaster Rovers – who haven’t won at Loftus Road since February 1952 – and even if Rovers win QPR will still have a two point lead. If Millwall continue their impressive record at Cardiff City (the Lions haven’t lost in the Welsh capital in the last four league games) and Ipswich come away with nothing from their trip to Scunthorpe. Queens Park Rangers may go into next week’s games with an impressive lead.
It’s far too early to be talking about the playoffs, but it will be interesting to see if Norwich and Watford can maintain their early season form; the Canaries won at Preston courtesy of a Grant Holt goal but the biggest surprise last weekend came at the New Den when Watford thrashed Millwall 6-1.
At the foot of the table, Portsmouth are the only club without a win but could easily make up ground at the moment if they were to beat Leicester on Friday night (7:45pm Sky Sports 3): however a meagre total of two goals from seven games and a goal difference of -9 doesn’t look too promising. Neither does the fact that Leicester have won three of the last four league meetings at Fratton Park; the Foxes also beat Pompey in the Carling Cup on Tuesday night. Bristol City’s horrible start to the season continued with a 2-1 home defeat to Coventry City although the Robins can take heart from the fact that their away record is better than their home performances have been.
One of the intriguing games on Sunday afternoon is Crystal Palace’s trip to Derby which could be vital for the long term prospects of both clubs. Although the Rams picked up a point at Barnsley last weekend they haven’t won since their opening day victory at Leeds United; Palace haven’t won away from home since a 3-1 win at Watford at the end of March.
If you’re a betting man there are a few games that look as if they may the proverbial home bankers. Coventry haven’t lost at home this season and their opponents Preston have lost all three of their away games and are on a four game losing streak; Hull City haven’t picked up any points away from home this season and haven’t won at Norwich for 40 years.
Despite the high attrition rate in the first couple of rounds, four teams from the nPower Championship have reached the last sixteen of this season’s Carling Cup. Leicester, Ipswich, Burnley and Swansea will all be hoping for a favourable draw – the fourth round is due to take place at the end of October.