Championship Preview: Reading host Ipswich, leaders Huddersfield visit Leeds United
The Madejski Stadium kicks off this week’s Championship action as Reading host Ipswich Town on Friday night (20:00).
The Royals, who could leapfrog this evening’s opponents in the league table with all three points, defeated Cardiff City 1-0 last time out , whilst the Tractor Boys are one point above the hosts after similarly edging past Preston North End 1-0 prior to the international break.
League leaders Huddersfield Town, who remain unbeaten in the Championship so far this season, including four victories from their opening five fixtures, will be looking to at least preserve their two-point lead at the top of the pile when they visit Leeds United on Saturday afternoon.
Terriers head coach David Wagner, who was awarded the Championship’s Manager of the Month Award for August, are seeking their third successive league win on the bounce – having fended off Barnsley and Wolverhampton Wanderers – meanwhile the Whites are hovering above the relegation places after Garry Monk’s side lost 3-1 to Nottingham Forest towards the end of last month.
Elsewhere; on Sunday, there is a mouthwatering Midlands derby to get your teeth stuck into, as Aston Villa entertain Nottingham Forest at Villa Park.
Following last term’s relegation from the Premier League, Roberto Di Matteo’s Villans have struggled to adapt to the second-tier of English football, winning just one of their opening contests (3-0 vs Rotherham United).
As for the visitors; back-to-back wins over Wigan Athletic and Leeds have propelled Forest up to seventh in the standings, on the verge of the play-off places, as Philippe Montanier’s men look to condemn Villa to a second straight defeat, and in turn, secure their third successive league win.
Saturday’s other key ties see second-placed Fulham host Birmingham City at Craven Cottage. Slavisa Jokanovic’s side are currently two points behind leaders Huddersfield, though defeating Gary Rowett’s Blues will be no easy task after they easily dispatched recently relegated Norwich City 3-0 last time out.
Newly promoted Barnsley, who were chuffed to see midfielder Conor Hourihane claim the Championship’s Player of the Month Award for August, will be looking to continue their rich vein of form on their travels to Preston – where they have climbed to third in the table after winning three of their opening games.
A convincing 4-0 thrashing of Rotherham last month saw the Tykes move on the verge of the automatic promotion places, and Paul Heckingbottom’s side should be confident of taking all three points from Deepdale given Preston’s lowly league position (23rd), where they have tasted defeat on four times already this campaign.
The other two recently relegated outfits from last term’s Premier League, Newcastle United and Norwich, will take on Derby County and Cardiff City respectively.
Rafa Benitez’s Magpies look to have turned a corner after winning their last three league games on the spin, including a 4-1 hammering of Reading, to see Newcastle occupy fourth spot. Whilst Norwich have had to endure a frustrating international break as they would have hoped to avenge their thoroughly disappointing 3-0 defeat at Birmingham last month as soon as possible.
The remaining fixtures on Saturday see Brighton and Hove Albion and Brentford go head-to-head at the Amex Stadium, where three points for either side should be enough to push themselves up into the top six, plus rock-bottom Blackburn Rovers, who have only picked up one point so far this campaign, face a tricky trip to Queens Park Rangers’ Loftus Road.
Sixth-placed Bristol City will be looking to kick Rotherham when they are down when they meet at Ashton Gate tomorrow, with the Millers sitting third from bottom after three losses in their last four meetings, whilst newly promoted Wigan (20th) will be looking to leapfrog Sheffield Wednesday (19th) in the standings when they visit Hillsborough – with both outfits looking to find some league form.
And finally; in-form Burton Albion are the visitors at Wolverhampton Wanderers, with the Brewers coming off the back of two wins (Sheffield Wednesday and Derby) and a draw (Blackburn) after their opening two defeats at the start of the campaign.
But despite a slender 1-0 loss to leaders Huddersfield last time out, Walter Zenga’s Wolves have looked menacing on the attack, so expect goals at Molineux on Saturday.