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Championship Preview: Paul Jewell under real pressure

Jonathan Campkin
ul jewell 300x225 Championship Preview: Paul Jewell under real pressure

Ipswich manager Paul Jewell

It’s that time in the season when managers get a dreaded vote of confidence from the chairman after a poor start or they are put under huge pressure from the heightened expectations of the fans after a fine run of results. Once again the Championship fixture list throws up some mouth-watering matches for the fans, but perhaps not for the managers.

We look ahead to the standout games and players to watch this week……

MATCH OF THE WEEK

Ipswich Town v Cardiff City

The Tractor Boys have started the season poorly with a return of only seven points from nine games, with many fans calling for Paul Jewell’s time at the club to come to an end.

Currently sitting in 23rd place, Jewell has acted quickly to try and gain some reinforcements. The arrival of Danny Higginbotham will add experience and tactical awareness at the back. He produced a fine performance at Brighton on Tuesday night as they were unlucky not to take all three points, as Will Buckley salvaged a point for the hosts late on.

On paper, Ipswich have a very strong team. Luke Chambers, previously at Nottingham Forest was one of the key players at the County Ground, whilst Scott Loach has plenty of experience between the sticks and has represented England U21’s and been called up to the full England squad. In Michael Chopra they also have a proven Championship goalscorer.

Therefore this game represents a chance for Ipswich to build on a positive performance against Brighton and try to resurrect their season.

Meanwhile Cardiff City are flying high at the top of the Championship following impressive performances against Blackpool and Birmingham City.

The Bluebirds, who have come so close to promotion on numerous occasions without getting over the finishing line, are determined to push on and embrace the challenge of being league leaders.

Malky Mackay’s side is pull of pace provided by Craig Noone and Craig Bellamy and creative guile thanks to the outstanding Peter Whittingham. The promising Joe Mason also adds natural finishing ability.

Ipswich will be fighting for their lives to try and get out of the relegation zone and put on a good performance for their manager in front of their fans, whilst Cardiff want to extend their advantage at the top of the table. An extremely important game for both!

OTHER NOTABLE MATCHES

Leicester City v Bristol City - After a strong start Bristol City seem to be fading away into mid-table mediocrity whereas Leicester City have pushed on. Nigel Pearson has brought together a group of hard-working players who will be desperate to get three points and try and get top spot.

Blackburn v Wolves- After a disappointing defeat to Crystal Palace, Wolves will be looking to bounce back with a strong away performance. It will be a close game however, as Blackburn possess some real firepower.

Derby v Brighton- Brighton have started promisingly but will face a stern test in Derby who like to control play and dominate possession at home. However the Seagulls are always full of goals. A close game in store.

GRUDGE MATCH

Leeds United v Barnsley

These two Yorkshire rivals collide on Saturday at Elland Road. Leeds go into the fixture in good form following three victories and a draw in their last four games whilst Barnsley’s form is more patchy.  However underestimate the Tykes at your peril, given their demolition of Birmingham City away from home.

Renowned for the fierce rivalry and hostility between the two teams, expect action and passion. Leeds fans will be desperate for their team to avenge their 4-1 loss at Oakwell last season.

Neil Warnock will be looking to get his players and the crowd fired up to put one over their local rivals. A feisty encounter!

PLAYER TO WATCH

Wilfried Zaha

After intense speculation during the transfer window, Zaha did not get his dream move to the Premier League. Therefore this season was always going to tell us a lot about his attitude. Would he sulk or get on with helping Palace build? On Tuesday night Zaha scored two stunning goals against Wolves to prove he is still committed.

Renowned for his great vision and electrifying pace, it has always been clear that he is a star in the making. Palace boss Dougie Freedman allows this exciting talent to express himself and cause havoc in the opposition’s half.

Zaha’s attacking attributes are a key factor in Palace’s recent great form. They have taken 10 points from the last 15 available.

He will be looking to put in another sterling performance against Burnley on Saturday. It will be a chance for Palace to try and build on a strong start. Burnley better watch out!

FIXTURES

Saturday 6th October 2012

Birmingham City v Huddersfield Town 3pm

Blackburn Rovers v Wolves 3pm

Blackpool v Charlton 3pm

Crystal Palace v Burnley 3pm

Derby v Brighton 3pm

Leeds United v Barnsley 3pm

Leicester v Bristol City 3pm

Millwall v Bolton 3pm

Peterborough v Nottingham Forest 3pm

Sheffield Wednesday v Hull City 3pm

Watford v Middlesbrough 3pm

Ipswich Town v Cardiff City 5.20pm

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