With a two-week international break which included the usual frenzy that a deadline day brings, it seems an age since the last round of Championship fixtures. Fans of Huddersfield Town, Fulham and Barnsley will be hoping their side’s outstanding starts are not hampered by the break, while supporters of Blackburn and Preston will be desperate for a change in fortunes when their club kicks off this weekend.
Saturday 10th September, 3pm (unless stated)
Brighton(8th) Vs Brentford(14th)
Chris Hughton managed to add the new face of full back Sebastien Pocognoli on loan but arguably the best piece of Seagulls’ business was keeping Lewis Dunk and Dale Stephens. Those two were instrumental in Brighton’s playoff push and Hughton will be hoping they can be again.
Brentford were busy on deadline day, signing talented left-back Rico Henry and Cyrstal Palace winger Sulley Kaikai on loan. The Bees have lost all three away games in all competitions and will find it very tough to stop the rot against the much fancied Brighton.
Fulham(2nd) Vs Birmingham City(10th)
Fulham have had a dream start and remain unbeaten, fuelling optimism about a return to the Premier League after a three-year absence. Slavisa Jokanovic, who masterminded Watford’s promotion a couple of years ago, has strengthened his frontline with Lucas Piazon and Chris Martin arriving on loan from Chelsea and Derby respectively.
The Cottagers will hope the two-week break doesn’t disrupt their early season form. Birmingham will also feel that the international break came at the wrong time after it followed their comprehensive 3-0 beating of Norwich City but Gary Rowett, having added Lukas Jutkiewicz and Rhoys Wiggins, will be demanding his players pick up where they left off when they visit Craven Cottage.
Leeds United(21st) Vs Huddersfield Town(1st)
This Yorkshire derby sees two clubs that have had contrasting starts. Leeds, as always carrying the large expectations associated with the club, have started poorly (and with the erratic Massimo Cellino in charge of the club) which means Manager Garry Monk will already be worried about his job security.
David Wagner on the other hand will be one of the favourites to land the Manager of the Month award for his excellent work at Huddersfield. His Terrier’s side have dropped just two points, and having played some of the toughest sides in the division, Wagner will be thinking of becoming the first man to lead Huddersfield Town into the Premier League. However, there is a long, long, long way to go.
Norwich City(12th) Vs Cardiff City(17th)
Norwich’s impressive start came to a grinding halt with a heavy defeat at Birmingham while Cardiff continued their stuttering beginning with a late defeat at home to Reading. Both sides added to their strikeforces with former Swansea, Forest and Benfica striker Nelson Oliveira joining Norwich and former England striker Rickie Lambert joining the Bluebirds.
Cardiff also suffered a key departure with goalkeeper David Marshall joining Hull. Alex Neil and Paul Trollope will want their signings to have the desired impact as they look to get their seasons back on track.
Preston North End(23rd) Vs Barnsley(3rd)
Preston have endured a dreadful start to the season and Simon Grayson has attempted to address this with a busy deadline day. Mannick Vermijl completed his permanent signing to Deepdale after a successful loan spell last season but the headline arrivals were Aiden McGeady and Alex Baptiste.
In what is still an inexperienced squad at this level, signings of this pedigree will be a big boost. Despite a brilliant start, Paul Heckingbottom still added to his squad, with Adam Armstrong, Adam Jackson, Cole Kpekawa, Sam Morsy and Saidy Janko all joining in an attempt to add depth ahead of a long season. The form book would suggest a Barnsley win but the Championship doesn’t much care about the form book.
QPR(5th) Vs Blackburn Rovers(24th)
QPR’s win at Wigan was their first since the opening day but it saw them rise into the playoff places and they’ll see this home game against the hapless Blackburn Rovers as a great opportunity to further continue their positive start.
Blackburn have been woeful so far and have amassed a solitary point from their first 5 games. Coyle added Charlie Mulgrew and Marvin Emnes to the playing staff at Ewood Park and he will be relying on them to help the Lancashire side to turn a corner, starting at Loftus Road on Saturday.
Rotherham United(22nd) Vs Bristol City(6th)
The international break couldn’t have come soon enough for Alan Stubbs and Rotherham. A 4-0 defeat at Barnsley saw their wretched start to the season continue. They managed to add experienced striker Dexter Blackstock to the squad before the deadline but its the defence that has been the major problem thus far. The Millers have conceded the joint-most goals in the Championship along with Blackburn.
The visitors to the New York Stadium are Bristol City, who have a made strong start to the season and will be looking to maintain their form to put together a top six challenge. However, the Robins will have to cope without the goals of Jonathan Kodija after he left for Aston Villa for £11 million. Sweden international Gustav Engvall was brought in to replace him while former Watford defender Joel Ekstrand also arrived to strengthen Lee Johnson’s squad.
Sheffield Wednesday(19th) Vs Wigan Athletic(20th)
After coming so close to promotion last season, Sheffield Wednesday have made a disappointing start to the season and haven’t won since the opening day. Carlos Carvalhal has brought in Urby Emmanuelson and Adam Reach but it will take more than these arrivals for the Owls to start challenging where they should be.
Wigan were also busy at the end of the transfer window, signing Reece Burke, Nathan Byrne, Kaiyne Woolery and most notably, the prolific Adam Le Fondre. The Latics have only managed a victory over bottom side Blackburn so far in the league and they will be hoping to chnage that at Hillsbrough.
Wolves(9th) Vs Burton Albion(13th)
This clash at Molineux sees a culture clash in terms of financial muscle as the richest club in the Championship (Wolves) takes on the poorest (Burton). Despite the divide in wealth, just 1 point separates the Midlands sides. Wolves sent out a real statement of intent with the signing of Ivan Cavaleiro from Monaco as well as the return of former player Richard Stearman on deadline day. With the amount of money spent by Wolves, anything less than promotion would be unacceptable to the new owners.
Burton have had to use the loan market as they work on a shoestring budget but the signing of lively winger Jamie Ward appears to be a really useful one. After losing their opening two games, the Brewers have taken seven points out of a possible nine, including impressive wins over promotion candidates Sheffield Wednesday and Derby. Any sort of result at Wolves would be a bonus for Nigel Clough’s men.
Derby County(18th) Vs Newcastle United(4th)
At the start of the season, these two sides were many people’s picks for the top 2 come the end of the season. While Newcastle have recovered from two early defeats by winning all of the games since their home loss to Huddersfield, Derby have been one of the biggest underachievers. Nigel Pearson’s men have managed just 1 goal and after a humiliating defeat at Burton last time out, the fans will be demanding a big performance against Newcastle.
Derby have raided Watford in an attempt to kickstart their season, with Matej Vydra and Ikechi Anya joining the Rams. The sale of Jeff Hendrick to Burnley could be a big blow, though.
Newcastle also sold an important part of their midfield on deadline day with French International Moussa Sissoko leaving for Tottenham for £30 million. They have brought Daryl Murphy who has been one of the most consistent strikers in the Championship over the last two seasons and the loan signing of winger Christian Atsu is an exciting one. Rafa Benitez appears to have got things right at Newcastle.
Sunday 11th September, 1:15pm
Aston Villa(16th) Vs Nottingham Forest(7th)
Aston Villa have spent big but to no avail as yet. Just one win in five for the Villains has confirmed the fear that they would be unable to break the losing mentality from last season. Jonathan Kodija is the latest expensive striker brought in to Villa Park but its going to take the whole team to lift their performance if Villa are going to achieve anything this season.
Their opponents on Sunday also announced big name striker will be joining the club. Ex-Arsenal man Nicklas Bendtner is a shock arrival at Forest and the self confident striker will aim to show the talent that he, if not anyone else, believes he has. Forest fans will also be pleased with the news that Britt Assombalonga has signed a new contract after speculation around his future. Despite this, there were significant departures from the City Ground with the highly rated teenage winger Oliver Burke leaving for Red Bull Leipzig for 13 million after a blistering start to the season. Philippe Montanier will be hoping the hectic transfer activity doesn’t disrupt his sides promising beginning to the season.