Regular readers will know what a sham the international ‘break’ is. It’s a misleading term: there are always two games during the following week, so it’s hard to tell who this ‘break’ is designed for.
As for the League Cup draw being held in China before dawn UK time on Wednesday morning, you can probably guess what I think of that. The draw – which seemed to go smoothly this time round – was very unkind to the remaining Championship clubs: despite just over half the teams remaining in the competition, seven were will play Premier League clubs in the next round with only Bristol City and Reading having home ties. There’ll be two guaranteed places in the fourth round and Wolves entertain Bristol Rovers – who beat Fulham earlier this week.
Based on last year’s trends – but bearing in mind we’ll only 10% of the season will be completed after this weekend’s games – currently the only team currently in the top ten after four games that looks like a genuine promotion contender is Leeds United, but following Chris Woods’ move to Burnley it’ll be interesting to see how Thomas Christensen adapts to life without his star striker. However, the presence in the top half of the table of some of teams that finished in the bottom half at the end of last season indicates that this trend is happening again. We’ll see.
Four of the top six play each other this weekend, so it was a toss up between Cardiff City v QPR and Nottingham Forest v Leeds United, but as the latter is being televised – it almost always is – then I’ll go with the former for the game of the week.
Cardiff City v QPR
The Bluebirds have only lost twice at home since the end of January so perhaps their impressive start to the season shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise: on the other hand, Rangers’ recent point at Sheffield Wednesday was the first they’d earned on the road since March. and Jamie Mackie’s goal at Hillsborough was only the third time Rangers had scored in an away game since February.
Looks one sided doesn’t it? The problem is that QPR have only lost twice at Cardiff in the league since they met in the third tier playoff final in May 2003 and the last time the Bluebirds beat them in the Welsh capital was eight years ago. In that case, the time is ripe for another Cardiff victory, but if Rangers earn a point I might have to start revising my opinion about them.
Honourable mentions: Ipswich Town v Fulham and Wolves v Brentford both feature clubs that have had good starts hosting teams that have not. I mentioned in the last post that it’s far too early to make any kind of predictions, but if Brentford lose at Molineux, there’s a possibility that they might struggle to get out of the bottom three over the rest of the season.
Televised games: Bristol City v Aston Villa (this evening, Sky Sports Main Event 7:45pm kickoff), Nottingham Forest v Leeds United (tomorrow, Sky Sports Main Event 5:30pm kickoff).
Home advantage could be crucial in both matches: Bristol City have only lost two of their last ten games at home whilst Villa have only won two of their last ten aways – both of those victories came last season at teams that were eventually relegated. Forest and Leeds looks like it might be a good game, but it’s been six years since Leeds won at the City Ground and both sides might have to be content with a point.
Back next week with a book review – I don’t remember having done one before!