The Capital One Cup was the usual mixed blessing; Bournemouth, Brighton, Derby and Fulham are the only teams left in the competition and the gulf between the top of the Premier League and the middle of the Championship was exposed when Manchester City battered Sheffield Wednesday 7-0. Much was made of all the goals coming in the second half, but five of them were scored after Kamil Zayatte had been sent off. There’s one all Championship game in the next round when Derby travel to Fulham (week commencing 27th October) but I think it’s fair to say that whoever wins that match will probably be the last Championship side left in the competition.
This weekend Nottingham Forest may not have a better chance to extend their lead at the top of the table: they’re the only club in the top six at home this weekend but any those teams could occupy top spot on Saturday evening.
The games of interest this weekend are those featuring sides at the bottom. So far there’s only been one game between the current bottom six teams (Bolton beat Rotherham 3-2 two weeks ago), but only ten of the 30 games between the clubs that finished in those positions in 2013/14 ended in home wins, which may be good news for Fulham.
Birmingham City v Fulham
First meeting between these two at this level since August 2000. Fulham have only won three of their last ten trips to St Andrews, but the hosts have only won TWICE at home in the Championship at home since October 1st 2013. As Fulham’s away defence is the worst in the competition so far (they’ve conceded at least once in the first half of all four of their road trips this season) I can honestly say I’ve got no idea what’s going to happen. Even if the visitors win – which is a distinct possibility considering they had a lead at Forest after 66 minutes – they can’t climb out of the bottom three.
Blackpool v Norwich City
Bit of a rarity as this is only the fourth time the clubs have met at Bloomfield Road in a league game in the last four decades. The hosts have something of an incentive here: if they win, there’s a reasonable chance that they might not be in the relegation zone by the start of next week. The Tangerines also have a far better home record than Birmingham (two wins in their last ten games is almost Real Madrid compared to Birmingham’s dire performance at St. Andrews) but the hosts have not scored more than once in front of their own fans since the end of November. Cameron Jerome has been a prolific goalscorer for the Canaries recently and has already scored more goals this season than he has in the last two campaigns put together, so he’s the obvious threat to Blackpool.
Reading v Wolves is the only televised game this weekend (Sunday 1:15pm, Sky Sports 1); the home team in this series have only won three of the last ten games and Reading haven’t won more than two consecutive home games since this time last year.
I’ll be back on Tuesday (I promise) for another midweek installment.