First Day Fixtures Plus Carling Cup Ties

All kick offs 3pm unless stated. Sorry to be a bit cryptic but the company that ‘owns’ the fixture list can be a bit touchy about how it’s used. As a non profit making independent football blog I think we might be OK, but you never know.

Friday 8th August:

The Rovers v The ‘Bluebirds’ (7:45pm, Sky Sports TBC)

Saturday 9th August

The Bees v The Addicks

The Albion v Wednesday

The Rams v The Merry Millers

The Town Terriers v The Cherries

Boro v The Blues

The Lions v The Whites/United/Peacocks

The Tricky Trees v The Tangerines

The Hornets v Wanderers

The Latics v The Royals

The Tractor Boys v The Cottagers (5:15pm, Sky Sports TBC)

Sunday 10th August:

The Old Golds v The Canaries (4:oopm, Sky Sports TBC)

Carling Cup First Round:

Monday 11th August

Carlisle v The Rams (I’m guessing this will be live on Sky Sports)

Tuesday 12th August

The Blues v Cambridge, Rovers v Scunthorpe, Wanderers v Bury, The Albion v Cheltenham, Burton v The Latics, The Addicks v Colchester, Chesterfield v The Town Terriers, Crawley v The Tractor Boys, Dagenham & Redbridge v The Bees, Exeter v The Cherries, The Whites v Accrington, The Lions v Wycombe, Oldham v Boro, The Royals v Newport, The Merry Millers v Fleetwood, Wednesday v Notts County*, Shrewsbury v The Tangerines, Stevenage v The Hornets, Tranmere v The Tricky Trees, The Old Golds v Northampton

* Subject to change as the other Sheffield team has also been drawn at home

Wednesday 13th August

Coventry v The ‘Bluebirds’

Capital One Cup Third Round Preview

The third round of the Carling Cup consists of an odd set of games: there are only two guaranteed places in the next round and in five of the seven ties involving Championship teams involve teams that have played each other within the last two years. I think t’s fair to say that I’m not expecting a Sky Bet Championship club to win this competition.

The game most people will be keeping tabs on is the repeat of last season’s FA Cup final between Wigan and Manchester City, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if this one got out of hand early on. The Latics have lost four of their last five games at the Etihad and a cup run this early in the season would add to their already cluttered pre-Christmas fixture list.

If you’re looking for a mild surprise this evening, Norwich travel to Vicarage Road to play Watford. The sides are only separated by eight places, the Hornets have only lost one of their last five meetings with the Canaries and the visitors are currently only outside the bottom three of the Premier League on goal difference. Gianfranco Zola’s side are currently performing at a better level than last season and Norwich could also find that a cup run is an unwanted distraction.

The pick of tonight’s all Championship ties is Burnley v Nottingham Forest rather than Leicester against Derby, but that’s purely because the former pair are both in the current top six. The Clarets have been regulars at this stage over the past decade but have only reached the next round three times in that period whereas Forest haven’t reached the fourth round since 2004/05. Home advantage could be crucial tonight: Forest haven’t won any of their last five trips to Turf Moor.

The remaining tie tonight is Huddersfield‘s trip to Hull: this is the first time the Terriers have got this far for a decade and they’ve not qualified for the fourth round since the turn of the century.

I’d be surprised if Leeds got a positive result at Newcastle on Wednesday night: so far this season they’ve only beaten teams below them away from Elland Road and their last win at St James’ Park in any competition was eleven years ago. They’ve also been knocked out at this stage in seven of the last ten seasons. However, Birmingham could upset Swansea at St Andrews: the Swans are doing well in the Europa League and may not want another distraction.

Update: it’s a good job that two places were guaranteed, because only one other club made it through to the next round. Leicester and Burnley both won 2-1 and Birmingham beat Swansea 3-1. The three remaining Sky Bet Championship clubs remaining in the Capital One Cup were all drawn at home to Premier League clubs in the next round with none of the ties looking particularly daunting. Leicester entertain Fulham, Stoke travel to Birmingham and Burnley will host West Ham.

Sky Bet Championship Game Of The Week: Leeds v QPR

Welcome to the last post before the first international break of the season.

After last week’s results, the situation at the top has changed a little. The leading nine clubs are only separated by three points and with all the 100% records gone there could be some big changes. The current top three all seem to have improved since the end of last season, but in terms of consistency it’s probably Watford who may be the most genuine long term contenders for promotion.

It’s a similar situation at the foot of the table, where the bottom ten sides have only three points between them. Compared to last season, Bolton (who lost at home to QPR), Charlton (who were losing at home to Doncaster until the game was abandoned as the Valley had turned into a paddling pool by last weekend’s rainstorms) and Birmingham are underperforming, but it’s probably Millwall and Barnsley who have the most to be worried about in the long run.

I was spot on with my prediction for last week’s game of the week: Andy Reid gave Nottingham Forest an early lead at Vicarage Road, but it was almost inevitable that Lewis McGugan would score against his former club to salvedge a point for Watford.

Barnsley performed their party trick at Blackburn – conceding five goals and having a man sent off – and Millwall finally scored, although it was a Kamil Zayatte own goal that gave them the lead at Hillsborough. Andy Keogh’s late penalty earned the Lions a point, but they still haven’t scored a goal in league from open play this season.

There are a couple of candidates for game of the week, but Leeds v QPR wins because for the second week running there’s a top of the table clash being televised on Sky Sports 1 (12:15pm kick off). The other match is a 3:00pm kickoff at Bloomfield Road, where Blackpool entertain Watford, but as we featured the Hornets last week, Leeds win.

I wrote that Leeds needed to start keeping clean sheets away from home if they wanted to establish themselves as promotion contenders and it’s now time for them to do the same at Elland Road. They’ve only kept three clean sheets in the last ten home games in the Championship, which underlines their inconsistent form since they lost to Cardiff at the start of February – since then Leeds have only won five games.

So far this season Brian McDermott has resisted the temptation to make many changes to the lineup. Keeper Paddy Kenny and Stephen Warnock provide the experience at the back and Ross McCormack is currently the leading scorer with three goals. Teenage striker Dominic Poleon is one to keep an eye on: although he’s yet to score this season, he’s featured in every league game.

Unbeaten in the league, QPR have begun well in their first season back in the Championship since 2010/11 but it will be interesting to see if their surprise midweek defeat at home to Swindon in the Capital One Cup will have an impact or not. Over the years, Rangers’ form at Leeds has been pretty poor: they’ve only won two of the their last ten trips to Elland Road and haven’t scored there since Gareth Ainsworth gave them an early lead in a game in November 2004 that they eventually lost 6-1.

Harry Redknapp hasn’t changed his starting XI in the Championship that much: eight players have played in all league games this season (five of them also played against Swindon) and if Karl Henry and Joey Barton return to the midfield there’s always a chance that this game could get lively. I’ll stick my neck out again and predict another draw!

Last meeting at Elland Road: 18th December 2010 – here’s the preview for that weekend.

Leeds United (1) 2 (Gradel 2), QPR 0 (att: 29, 426)

Leeds: Schmeichel, Connolly, Collins, Bruce (Bromby), McCartney, Gradel (Sam), Johnson, Howson, Kilkenny, Snodgrass, Becchio (Paynter). Manager: Simon Grayson.

QPR: Kenny, Walker, Hill (Hall), Connolly, Gorkss, Derry, Orr, Taarabt, Mackie, Smith (Ephraim), Hulse (Helguson). Manager: Neil Warnock.

Even though two goals from Max Gradel (now with St Etienne) saw QPR slump to their second league defeat in a week, Rangers remained three points ahead of Leeds with a game in hand. Although QPR were promoted at the end of the season, that was as good as it got for Leeds: they only won one of their next six games and eventually finished three points off the last playoff place.

Capital One Cup Round Up

A quick look at last night’s action:

Through: Burnley, Leicester, Derby, Leeds, Huddersfield, Birmingham, Watford and Nottingham Forest

Birmingham’s penalty shoot out win at Yeovil featured a controversial goal of the type that’s happened before at Huish Park; Leicester and Derby both scored five goals with wins at Carlisle and against Brentford respectively. Huddersfield twice came from behind to beat Charlton.

Out: Barnsley, Bournemouth, Doncaster, Charlton, Millwall, Reading, QPR, Bolton and Yeovil

Reading, QPR and Bolton all lost to opposition from League One – Bolton lost a penalty shoot out at Tranmere – and will no doubt be concentrating on the league until the FA Cup starts. Barnsley’s defensive woes continued as they were battered 5-1 by Southampton at Oakwell.

Capital One Cup 3rd Round draw (Sky Bet Championship teams only, all games to take place on 24th/25th September)

Birmingham v Swansea

Burnley v Nottingham Forest

Hull v Huddersfield

Leicester v Derby

Manchester City v Wigan

Newcastle v Leeds

Watford v Norwich

So there’ll be at least two Sky Bet Championship teams in the fourth round, as well as a repeat of the 2013 FA Cup Final at the Etihad Stadium.

Capital One Cup 2nd Round Draw

Sky Bet Championship teams will have five guaranteed places in the third round of the Capital One Cup draw following the draw for the second round earlier today. The all-Championship games – scheduled for the week beginning 26th August – are as follows:

Doncaster Rovers v Leeds United

Huddersfield Town v Charlton

Nottingham Forest v Millwall

Watford v AFC Bournemouth

Yeovil Town v Birmingham City

The only tie between a Championship side and a Premier League club will be at Oakwell when Southampton take on Barnsley, which leaves five games between Championship clubs and teams from League One. Blackburn Rovers lost at Carlisle during the week, so Leicester need to take their trip to Brunton Park seriously and neither Reading (at Peterborough) nor Bolton (at Tranmere) look as if they have straightforward ties.