It’s Derby day for some and D-Day for others – Championship Preview


Huge games at both the top and bottom of the EFL Championship.

(This preview was originally penned in march before the Championship went on its break. Changes have been made to reflect changed kick off times)

The EFL season restarts with a massive West London derby between Fulham and Brentford. The Cottagers are six points behind 2nd placed West Brom, and have the chance to put pressure on the top two with a win against the Bees.

With Brentford also 10 points off the automatic promotion places, it’s a game neither side can afford to drop points in.

There’s another derby at The Hawthorns between West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham City. It was a thriller the last time these two West Midlands rivals met in December, two late goals from Charlie Austin gave Albion all three points at St. Andrews.

Charlie Austin scored a brace at St Andrews
Credit – West Bromwich Albion FC

The Baggies have failed to score in their last two games however, which has knocked them off top spot, while Birmingham lost their first game in ten league matches following a 3-1 home defeat to Reading before the Coronavirus hiatus.

Victory for Slaven Bilic’s side will take them back to the top of the league and put their season back on track, as they target a return to the top flight, while three points for the Blues would take them to the 50 point mark and surely secure them another season of Championship football.

Arguably the stand out fixture of the resumption are the clashes between the bottom sides. This includes the fixture between Hull City and Charlton Athletic at the KCOM.

Hull and Charlton had strong starts to the season with the Tigers just two points off the top six back in January. But poor results has seen them slump down the table, making this match a true relegation six-pointer.

Saturday also sees a revitalised Wigan Athletic travel to Danny Cowley’s Huddersfield Town, who themselves have picked up important victories in recent weeks. With sides still within the relegation dog-fight and with Hull and Charlton coming head to head, there’s a great chance for the Terriers and the Latics to extend the gap between them and the drop zone.

Bottom of the table Barnsley are seven points from safety. They take on a resurgent Queens Park Rangers, who are unbeaten in six matches and come into this game on the back of an impressive display at Preston which saw them comeback from 1-0 down, with 10 men, to win 3-1.

Luton Town, who are one point better off than the Tykes, face a difficult task ahead of them as they take on Preston North End, who themselves are aiming to finish the season in the top six. But Preston boss, Alex Neil knows his side can’t perform the way they did against Rangers if they are to make the play-offs.

Nottingham Forest, who have only won once in their last six games, go to Hillsborough to face a Sheffield Wednesday, in freefall. Just one win from their last 11 has seen fall out of the promotion frame. Both sides will have welcomed the time to reorganise and hope the break proves useful, at least in a footballing sense.

Regardless, Sabri Lamouchi will be wary of Garry Monk’s side, as they humiliated Forest 4-0 at the City Ground back in December, all goals coming in the first 45 minutes.

Yuri Ribiero in red for Forest against Millwall
Credit – Nottingham Forest FC

Millwall added to Forest’s miserable run before the break. A first half Matt Smith hat-trick gave the Lions a 3-0 victory. Gary Rowett’s side take on the Reds’ East Midlands’ rivals, Derby County, whom Rowett played for and also managed. They both come into this one still in the play-off equation.

There is also a clash between play-off hopefuls at Ewood Park between Blackburn Rovers and Bristol City. Both sides had the chance to move into the top six last weekend, however Rovers were beaten 3-0 away at Derby, while the Robins drew 1-1 to Fulham at Ashton Gate. Depending on other results, there is a possibility Blackburn and Bristol City could end the weekend in those positions, if one of the sides pick up all three points.

Stoke City, eased their relegation worries with a rampant 5-1 victory against Hull. The Potters head to Reading who have won their last two games including the win at Birmingham.

Middlesbrough also in the mix up at the bottom picked up a vital 1-0 win at Charlton. They host Swansea City, who are also fighting for a play off place. The team from South Wales put on a solid defensive display against West Brom.

The final clash sees Cardiff City play Leeds United on Sunday. The West Yorkshire side have won their last five league game and have moved to the top of the Championship. However, it was a remarkable game when these two met at Elland Road. Cardiff were 3-0 down but came back to draw 3-3, arguably Leeds’ biggest slip up of the season.

Neil Harris’ men are only two points of Preston in 6th, and will need the points in order to keep up their play-off challenge. But a win for Marcelo Bielsa’s side would make it six consecutive wins, and another giant step towards the Premier League.


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