Championship Preview: Cardiff manager Mackay faces Leeds test
With the international break having passed, players and fans will be looking forward to the return of the topsy-turvy world of Championship football. It may be a nightmare for managers, but for fans it provides non-stop excitement.
The Championship fixture list once again throws up some intriguing matches.
We look ahead to the standout games and players to watch this week……
MATCH OF THE WEEK
Cardiff City v Leeds United
Both teams sit just outside the play-offs after solid starts but will look to achieve automatic promotion.
The home team come off the back of an emphatic victory against possible promotion contenders Wolves, with influential midfielder Peter Whittingham scoring a hat-trick.
The Bluebirds have captured the exciting Nicky Maynard, signed for a reported transfer fee of 2.75 million from West Ham United. The striker made his debut against Wolves and will be sure to score plenty of goals, despite his disappointing spell at Upton Park.
Maynard scored four goals in seventeen appearances but was never given a run of games in London. He does however boast a proven track record at this level with rivals Bristol City.
Malky Mackay has also secured the services of Craig Noone. The ex-Brighton winger will be sure to add menacing pace and trickery. Such was his impact against Wolves, Cardiff hardly noticed the absence of Craig Bellamy.
Leeds have added El Hadji Diouf to their ranks. The Senegal front man, 31, has joined until January. He had been playing on non-contract terms at the beginning of the season. He will add experience and proven talent to the Leeds squad as Neil Warnock targets promotion back to the promised land.
Warnock will be hoping Rodolph Austin and Ross McCormack return fit from international duty. Austin, a dynamic and versatile central midfielder, was part of a Jamaica side that lost 1-0 to the United States on Tuesday whilst McCormack was an unused sub for Scotland against Macedonia at Hampden Park.
Defender Tom Lees was called up to the England U21’s for the first time against Norway on Monday, another indication of the strength of Warnock’s squad.
Two teams with experienced players and managers at this level. A difficult game for both.
MORE TOP MATCHES
Nottm Forest v Birmingham: Birmingham have underachieved this season so far but will improve under Lee Clark. Forest have started brightly after lots of investment. Should be a close one.
Wolves v Leicester: Both sides invested heavily in their squads, which are full of Championship experience. Both have not started as they would have liked. An important game for both.
Outsider: Sheffield Wednesday
Not many pundits fancied the Owls to have started as strong as they have. However Dave Jones is a fantastic manager at this level, as his Cardiff City record suggests.
His team is full of pace and power thanks to the likes of Jermaine Johnson and Michael Antonio, and has a natural goalscorer in Chris O’Grady.
Currently they stand in the last play-off place but expect them to be looking upwards rather than behind. This week they face Brighton and Huddersfield.
Expect the Owls to get a solid haul of points from these two games and prove themselves as one of the Championship teams to look out for this season. They could be very dangerous.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Signed for a reported fee of 8 million pounds from Huddersfield Town, Blackburn’s natural goalscorer will frighten many of the league’s defences. Blessed with a natural finishing instinct and great vision, he was a player many teams were tracking to bolster their attacking options. Rovers fans will be hoping he lives up to the large transfer fee it took to secure him.
After coming on as a second-half substitute in midweek for Scotland, Rhodes will be looking to make an instant impression for Rovers. With Huddersfield this season his performances have been full of determination and potential and he will head into Saturday’s away game with Bristol City full of confidence.
Blackburn scored three away from home last time out, so Rhodes should receive good service. His quality may prove the difference for Rovers, as Bristol City have made a solid start to the season too.
Friday 14th September 2012
Brighton v Sheffield Wed 7.45pm
Charlton v Crystal Palace 7.45pm
Saturday 15th September 2012
Barnsley v Blackpool 3pm
Bolton v Watford 3pm
Bristol City v Blackburn 3pm
Burnley v Peterborough 3pm
Cardiff v Leeds United 3pm
Huddersfield v Derby County 3pm
Hull v Millwall 3pm
Middlesbrough v Ipswich 3pm
Nottm Forest v Birmingham 3pm
Sunday 16th September 2012
Wolves v Leicester City 3pm
Tuesday 18th September 2012
Birmingham v Bolton 7.45pm
Blackburn v Barnsley 7.45pm
Derby v Charlton 7.45pm
Leeds United v Hull 7.45pm
Millwall v Cardiff 7.45pm
Peterborough v Bristol City 7.45pm
Watford v Brighton 7.45pm
Blackpool v Middlesbrough 8pm
Crystal Palace v Nottm Forest 8pm
Wednesday 19th September 2012
Ipswich v Wolves 7.45pm
Leicester v Burnley 7.45pm
Sheffield Wed v Huddersfield 7.45pmTagged in: championship, football
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