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EFL: Five things to look out for this weekend

Posted: Fri 10 Feb 2017
Ian Evatt 8x6

Ian Evatt

Image by: Barrington Coombs/EMPICS Sport

Another action-packed EFL schedule is upon us, which means there are plenty of storylines to look out for this weekend.

We've picked out five things – here they are...

Bottom nine battle

This weekend could be a big one for some of the sides in the bottom reaches of Sky Bet League One, when eight of the nine face off against each other across four games.

Read more: Sky Bet League One - Matchday 31 preview

Seven points separate 16th and 23rd, with bottom club Coventry City further adrift in the fight for survival.

Bury (22nd – 27 pts) v Swindon Town (20th – 29 pts)
Gillingham (17th – 33 pts) v Port Vale (19th – 32 pts)
Northampton Town (16th – 33 pts) v Chesterfield (23rd – 26 pts)
Oldham Athletic (21st – 28 pts) v Coventry City (24th – 21 pts)

The one team not involved in this week's mini-battle are Shrewsbury Town, who sit 18th and visit high-flying Scunthorpe United.

Devon Derby

Exeter City stand on the brink of history as they bid to equal their club record run of 13 matches unbeaten.

This week, Ollie Watkins was named the Sky Bet League Two Player of the Month for January for his part in the Grecians' good form.

History-makers; Exeter City's record-breaking run

However, Devon rivals Plymouth Argyle stand in their way this weekend, with Paul Tisdale's men visiting Home Park. The Pilgrims are currently second in Sky Bet League Two, and won the reverse fixture at St James' Park by two goals to nil.

Monthly winners

January's Sky Bet EFL award winners have been announced!

We've mentioned Ollie Watkins, but the player honours in the other divisions went to Leeds United's Chris Wood and James Vaughan of Bury.

Wood has been firing on all cylinders in 2017, and he comes up against Cardiff City this weekend, while Vaughan, who hit four in one game last month, is taking on a Swindon team who have lost three on the bounce.

Of the managerial winners, neither Uwe Rosler or Darren Ferguson have tasted league defeat in 2017. Rosler's Fleetwood Town host Rochdale in a battle between two Sky Bet League One Play-Off contenders, while Ferguson's table-topping Doncaster Rovers go to basement side Newport County on Friday night.

Elsewhere, Reading are looking to keep the pressure up on the Sky Bet Championship's top two, and Jaap Stam's in-form Royals visit Barnsley this weekend.

Fight for first

The race for top spot in the Sky Bet Championship and Sky Bet League One has been well and truly on over recent times.

Newcastle United and Brighton & Hove Albion have regularly switched places at the summit, and that could be the case again this weekend.

The Seagulls host Burton Albion in a 3pm kick-off, and three points will put the pressure back on the Magpies, who visit Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Saturday evening fixture on Sky Sports.

Standings: Take a look at the latest EFL tables

In the division below, Scunthorpe United managed to cut Sheffield United's lead and move to the top of the table, but then slipped up last week, and the Blades returned to the summit.

This weekend, the Iron host Shrewsbury, while Chris Wilder takes his table-toppers to Peterborough United.

TV Games

As mentioned above, the Sky Sports cameras are at Molineux on Saturday evening to watch Wolves and Newcastle do battle in the Sky Bet Championship.

The pair met twice in the space of four days back in September, with Wanderers running out 2-0 winners in the league before Rafa Benitez's men returned the favour in the EFL Cup later that week.

The weekend starts on Friday night though, with Sheffield Wednesday playing host to Birmingham City.

The Blues will be buoyed by last week's win over Fulham which ended Gianfranco Zola's long wait for a victory since taking charge.

As for Wednesday, they return to Hillsborough for the first time since mid-January. They haven't lost at home in five matches, and haven't lost at home to Birmingham since 2006.

TV Games; View the EFL fixtures selected for Sky Sports coverage