The first international weekend is over – I refuse to call it a break anymore – the transfer window is shut (although I nearly typed a rude word there) and although there have been no managerial casualties yet, this month could very see the first of them. There’s a full midweek programme next week (that’s why it’s not an international ‘break’), so this post is merely an overview of the weekend’s games.
This weekend there are five potential games of the week, including four featuring the top six/bottom six combination that occasionally produces the shock results. It may be significant that the four of the bottom six clubs have home advantage this weekend:
Leeds United v Huddersfield Town
A few weeks ago there were rumours that Gary Monk would be sacked if Leeds didn’t beat Fleetwood Town in the League Cup and a defeat at home to their Yorkshire rivals could see Monk depart. There always seems to be goals whenever the Terriers visit Leeds: the last time there were less than three was in March 1987 and there’s been an average of 3.87 goals per game in the eight meetings at Elland Road since then, including the 4-1 thrashing Huddersfield gave Leeds on their own patch in March. United have only won two of the last six encounters against Saturday’s visitors when they’ve had home advantage and have only won three of their last ten home games in the Championship.
Leeds 0, Huddersfield 1. The Terriers can’t be overtaken on Tuesday evening, Leeds drop into the bottom three.
Preston v Barnsley
Last season the Lillywhites scored 34 fewer goals than during their successful promotion campaign, which – to be fair – was offset by only conceding five more than they did in their last campaign in League One. That makes the decision to offload Joe Garner to Rangers an even stranger one: so far three players have scored more individual goals than Preston have managed as a team. Barnsley have won three of their last six trips to Deepdale and haven’t drawn there since November 2001: Preston have failed to win any of their last eight home games in the Championship. There’s a theme emerging here, isn’t there?
Preston 1, Barnsley 2. Last week, I wrote that Coventry were missing Adam Armstrong this season on Buzzin’ League One Football. His winner for the Tykes was sublime.
QPR v Blackburn
You’ve got to go back a long way to find the last time QPR lost consecutive home games at this level (the start of 2010), which indicates how unusual the recent defeat by Preston was – only their fifth home defeat in the league since the middle of September 2015 and the first time they’d failed to score at Loftus Road in 15 games. In comparison, Rovers have only won two of their last 15 road trips but since the turn of the century three of the last four encounters between these sides in London have ended all square. QPR haven’t beaten Blackburn at home since November 1993 but I think it’s fair to say that these clubs are moving in very different directions.
1-1. Rangers drop out of the top six, Rovers stay bottom.
Rotherham v Bristol City
It’s far too early to describe this match as a crucial one for both sides, but it may give us some indication of how the rest of the season pans out for both of them. Despite their current position in the table, it’s worth remembering that the Millers have only lost one of their last ten games at the New York Stadium and City have won only two of their last ten trips to Rotherham.
City overcame a two goal deficit to earn a point.
Sheffield Wednesday v Wigan
It’s not much of a surprise that Wednesday have had a sluggish start to the season but Carlos Carvalhal’s side have a couple of winnable looking home games over the next few days and could make up some lost ground. Wigan look vulnerable defensively away from the DW Stadium but this is only their third ever league visit to Hillsborough and there’s not enough information to make an educated guess about the outcome.
Wednesday 2, Wigan 1. Come from behind win for the hosts, Wigan are equal on points with Leeds but have a better goal difference.
Televised games: Reading v Ipswich (this evening, SS1 8pm kick off), Derby v Newcastle (tomorrow, SS1 5:30pm), Aston Villa v Nottingham Forest (Sunday, SS1 1:15pm). The last one looks like a choice for anyone feeling nostalgic for the late Seventies/early Eighties: only Newcastle and Forest are currently in the top eight in the table.
There’ll be a quick update on tomorrow evening, I’ll be back next Tuesday with a look at the midweek games.