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npower Championship midweek preview

18 September 2012


A lot has been said and written about Blackburn Rovers' chances of going back up from the npower Championship at the first attempt and their start to 2012/13 couldn't have been much better.

Ahead of Tuesday night's visit of Barnsley to Ewood Park, Steve Kean's men sit on top of the table after an unbeaten start that has seen them win three games and draw the other two.

They went to the summit on Saturday with a thrilling 5-3 win away to Bristol City, leading to Kean to call on his players to keep the momentum going.

And he added to "It is going to be a tough game against Barnsley. I know everybody thinks that it is going to be easy, but there are going to be lots of challenges and a lot of obstacles to come up against and none more so than Barnsley and Middlesbrough in the next two games.

"The way they play, they have the two up front and the diamond in midfield with that supporting midfield player behind the two strikers so they will create chances, they will come and try and possibly play on the break.

"Because of where we are in the league people might think that it is going to be easy but there aren't any easy games and we'll treat Barnsley with total respect and we need to be right on it to make sure we get the result."

Barnsley's start to the campaign sees them sit 13th so far with two wins, a draw and two defeats recorded by the Oakwell club.

It's been a start of contrasts too, as they are unbeaten in front of their own fans but have lost both of their away games - going down 3-1 at Wolverhampton Wanderers and 5-1 at Brighton and Hove Albion.

But a good draw at home to Blackpool on Saturday gave Keith Hill's men a nice boost on the occasion of their 125th anniversary.

Hill began his playing career with Blackburn and told "When you can invest the type of money they've invested, you'd probably ask yourself why they didn't invest it last January to at least give themselves an opportunity to retain their Premier League status.

"They've recruited Premier League-standard players. To pay the type of money for Leon Best, then he gets injured - then recruit Jordan Rhodes. And then Colin Kazim-Richards after spending £8million - I mean, it's brilliant.

"It is a Premier League club playing in the Championship. They've got to be competing for automatic promotion when they're spending that type of money."


point so far this season. npower ChampionshipWhile flying starts at the top of the table catch the eye, so do teams in bad form at the bottom end - and that's where Peterborough United find themselves having not yet picked up a single

The Posh have the unenviable record of five defeats from five ahead of their home match with Bristol City on Tuesday evening.

They have conceded more goals than anyone else and also have the Championship's worst goal difference, leading to boss Darren Ferguson saying he won't be shying away from the challenge.

He told "I have had a good chat with the players, we know what we have to do and it is obviously a big week for us. This is a big challenge, but I and the players are up for that challenge.

"Nobody would have ever have imagined we would lose the first five league games of the season, but it has happened and we need to stop that run.

"I don't shy away from a challenge. I spent a good three hours with the players on Sunday and I said a lot to them and I am confident they will respond in the right manner. We are all together, the squad, the management, everyone is one team and the fans can play a major part in that.

"We know that the fans are disappointed, as we all are, it is up to us to lift them and hopefully we can do that on Tuesday night."

Bristol City's start to the season has been goal-filled with their five matches producing 21 so far, more than any other Championship club.

Eight of those came on Saturday as they went down 5-3 at home to Blackburn Rovers but although they have netted 11 goals themselves, they are yet to find the target on the road after 1-0 defeats at Nottingham Forest and Barnsley.

City boss Derek McInnes told "We need to make sure we don't go chasing the next result just because we've lost the game on Saturday.

"Peterborough certainly go and ask questions of the opposition - they've always done that. They've got a lot of good forward players so we have to keep them quiet, as difficult as that is.

"Being away from home, we need to get a foothold in the game and an element of control with a real solid, disciplined performance."


Nottingham Forest are the npower Championship's only other unbeaten team after five matches with two wins and three draws so far seeing them into sixth in the early table.

The highly-backed Reds showed plenty of character on Saturday to battle back from two goals down in the second half at home to Birmingham City and claim a 2-2 draw, preserving their record.

But they face a tough test on Tuesday night in the shape of a trip to Crystal Palace with the Londoners having won their last two fixtures, at Charlton Athletic and away to Sheffield Wednesday, on the back of losing their opening three matches.

Palace will be buoyed by their recent revival and manager Dougie Freedman will be looking to put one over on his old club having played for Forest from 1998 to 2000.

Another manager returning to a club he used to play for is Charlton's Chris Powell, who takes his side to Derby County on Tuesday.

Powell is regarded as a legend at both clubs and joined the Addicks from the Rams in 1998. It's a fixture between two sides who suffered 1-0 defeats over the weekend - Charlton in that game at home to Crystal Palace, while Derby went down at Huddersfield Town.

Huddersfield aren't in action again until Wednesday night when they face a Yorkshire derby away to Sheffield Wednesday - with perfect symmetry, current Huddersfield boss Simon Grayson had a short loan spell with the Owls in 2000.

Wednesday, having previously been unbeaten since Dave Jones took over in March, have lost their last two games and will be keen to bounce back from Saturday's 3-0 reverse at Brighton and Hove Albion.

The Seagulls have made an excellent start to the season and sit third, though they face a Tuesday trip to Watford for a game between two sides managed by former Chelsea team-mates - the Hornets under Gianfranco Zola, and Brighton under Gus Poyet.

Tuesday's remaining games see Millwall take on Cardiff City, Leeds United welcoming Hull City, Blackpool at home to Middlesbrough, and Birmingham City facing Bolton Wanderers.

The two outstanding fixtures on Wednesday are Ipswich Town's home match with Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester City at home to Burnley.

Click here for all the midweek action

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