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Match Previews

npower Championship weekend preview

31 August 2012

THE BIG MATCH

With both sides looking to bounce back from disappointment last season, Cardiff City's match with Wolverhampton Wanderers promises to be the pick of the bunch in the npower Championship on Sunday.

The Bluebirds crashed out of the Play-Off semi-finals after defeat to eventual winners West Ham United over two legs last term and Wolves were relegated from the top flight with just one win in their final 24 games.

Cardiff have started the campaign well as they strive to go one better than they did last season although they suffered their first defeat on their last league outing, going down 4-2 to Bristol City last weekend.

Manager Malky Mackay wasn't happy with his side's showing, as he explained to www.cardiffcityfc.co.uk after the game: "Defensive mistakes, not defender, but defensive mistakes cost us - with absolutely no disrespect to the forward play of Bristol City today.

"We gave away possession cheaply in dangerous areas, and too many of my usually dependable players were below par.

"Individual errors have led to the goals being conceded, but we'll go through all of that and we'll learn from it. My players certainly aren't trying to do that on purpose and we've got to make sure we tighten up in situations like that."

Wolves brought in a new manager over the summer with Stale Solbakken taking the helm following the club's relegation from the top flight.

The former Copenhagen manager oversaw a 3-1 win at Northampton Town on Thursday night in the Capital One Cup. The victory extended their current run to just one defeat from five games in the opening month of the season and the 44-year-old was impressed by the performances of several new faces at Sixfields.

"We knew it would be difficult but it was a good workout," he told www.wolves.co.uk after the match. "It will probably not be the same team against Cardiff on Sunday, but I was happy with the performances of the young players today and the new players as well.

"The new guys got 30 minutes or 60 or 90 which was pleasing and will help their match fitness."

The last time these two teams met was in 2009 with the game ending in an exciting 2-2 draw that saw City goalie, Dimitrios Konstantopoulos, score a late own goal on his debut.

This time around new signing Craig Noone, who has joined from Brighton & Hove Albion, could make his first start for the Bluebirds and he'll be aiming to make an impression at the right end.

KEEP AN EYE ON

Another enticing fixture to watch out for is Nottingham Forest playing host to Charlton Athletic at the County Ground.

Forest will be keen to bounce back in front of their fans after suffering a heavy defeat against Wigan Athletic in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday night. Sean O'Driscoll's men were at the wrong end of a 4-1 result, their first loss of a so far impressive season.

O'Driscoll told www.nottinghamforest.co.uk he is expecting another tough test against last season's npower League 1 winners.

He said: "They have been used to winning games in League 1 and put together a squad last season that moulded pretty quickly.

"They all know what they are doing. Chris Powell doesn't change his team very often, so they have got the ingredients to do well in this division."

Just like Forest, Chris Powell's men are undefeated in the league so far this term and were recently held to a goalless draw against Hull City.

It was their third draw from four games in all competitions, their one win was over Leicester City and the Addicks will be looking for a second success over a Midlands-based side.

"They have picked up some decent results and they are unbeaten in the league," Powell told News Shopper. "They will get the ball down and they will pass.

"They have added to the squad and spent a bit of money, which we all knew they would under the new owners.

"Traditionally they are a very good football club with some good players.

"Andy Reid, who we know well here [at Charlton], is a very talented player, along with a few more.

"We will approach the game like we did at Birmingham away from home.

"The two home games we've had were encouraging so we will be looking to go there and perform to continue our own mini unbeaten run."

Marcus Tudgay is still struggling with a groin problem for Forest and it looks like new recruit Henri Lansbury will have to wait until after the international break for his debut due to an ankle injury.

ELSEWHERE IN THE DIVISION

Kick-starting the action this weekend is a 12.45pm encounter at the New Den between Millwall and Middlesbrough. The Lions have managed just three points in their first three games and will be hoping to make home advantage count.

Boro have started the season solidly and manager Tony Mowbray will be pleased with his side's opening results as they look to better last season's seventh-placed finish.

Barnsley welcome Bristol City to Oakwell on the back of three straight defeats which has seen them concede 11 goals.

City, on the other hand, appear to be pushing on from last season's relegation fight to become promotion contenders. Derek McInnes will be pleased with the Robins' recent form with high-scoring wins over Cardiff City and Crystal Palace.

It hasn't been the best of starts for much-fancied Birmingham City as the Blues have picked up just one point from three games. However, boss Lee Clark may feel his side have an opportunity as they welcome point-less Peterborough United to St Andrews.

Burnley are at home to Brighton and Hove Albion in what could be another difficult fixture. The Clarets started the season with a 2-0 win over Bolton Wanderers but have failed to pick any points since.

Another side struggling for form is bottom of the league Crystal Palace. The Eagles have failed to win so far this campaign and will be in for a tough one as they line up against Sheffield Wednesday at Selhurst Park.

Derby County will be looking for the first win of the new season as they welcome Watford to Pride Park. However, it won't be easy against a visiting Watford side that appear to have picked up where they left off last season despite the managerial and back room changes.

Hull City have started the campaign solidly picking up four points from their opening fixtures, and they are up against Bolton.

Ipswich Town take on Huddersfield Town after suffering a heavy defeat at the hands of Blackpool last week while the Terriers recorded their first three points of the season last weekend when they cruised to victory against Burnley but may find things a little harder after the sale of striker Jordan Rhodes.

Blackpool are the only side with maximum points from the opening three games and they travel to Leicester City for a 5.20pm kick-off on Saturday.

The final fixture in the npower Championship sees Leeds United meet Blackburn Rovers, who are set to include Rhodes, having completed his capture from Huddersfield on Friday.

Click here for all the weekend's action


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