Skip to main content Skip to site footer

EFL: Five things to look out for this weekend

16 December 2016

The final EFL weekend before Christmas is upon us!

With top spot up for grabs in all three divisions, a new manager and the end of Sky Sports' #10in10 coverage, we've selected five storylines to watch out for...


Sky Sports' football marathon comes to a close this weekend, with Sunday's Sky Bet Championship meeting between Queens Park Rangers and Aston Villa the final #10in10 fixture.

The live coverage witnessed five successive home wins, before away successes for divisional high-flyers Newcastle United and Sheffield United on Wednesday and Thursday night.

#10in10 results

Game 1 – Brighton & Hove Albion 2-0 Leeds United
Game 2 – Preston North End 3-2 Blackburn Rovers
Game 3 – Derby County 3-0 Nottingham Forest
Game 4 – Bolton Wanderers 4-0 Gillingham
Game 5 – Norwich City 1-0 Aston Villa
Game 6 – Wigan Athletic 0-2 Newcastle United
Game 7 – Coventry City 1-2 Sheffield United

Games eight and nine see Norwich City, who beat Aston Villa in midweek, host Huddersfield, before Birmingham City and Brighton & Hove Albion meet on Saturday evening.

And speaking of the Blues...


It's been quite a week at St Andrew's, with Birmingham City employing a new manager at the helm.

Despite a midweek win and the Blues sitting one point outside the top six, Gary Rowett was sacked, and the club moved to replace him with Gianfranco Zola.

No stranger to English football or EFL management, the Italian – who made over 200 appearances as a player for Chelsea – returns to the Sky Bet Championship for the first time since departing Watford in 2013.

In his first press conference, Zola praised the work of his predecessor and has pledged to take the Blues forward under his guidance.

“I know that I am coming in for a coach that has done extremely well and he has my respect, but I will do my best to make sure that the club has made the right decision.

“This is a good club that has ambitions and I believe I can do a good job.”

Read more: Birmingham City boss Gianfranco Zola analyses the challenge ahead

Christmas number one?

Newcastle United, Scunthorpe United and Plymouth Argyle are the clubs currently leading the way in the three EFL divisions.

But the trio are all at risk of being overtaken in the final weekend before Christmas.

The Magpies have switched places with Brighton & Hove Albion at the top of the Sky Bet Championship twice over the past week, and the Seagulls can take pole position once more if they beat Birmingham, and Rafa Benitez's men slip up at Burton Albion.

In Sky Bet League One, Scunthorpe will lead the way on 25th December if they beat Millwall, but Bolton are poised to pounce if the Iron fall short. The Trotters visit struggling Chesterfield this weekend.

Plymouth, Carlisle United and Doncaster Rovers have all held top spot in Sky Bet League Two over recent weeks, but it's advantage Pilgrims after 20 games.

However, they could find themselves second by 3pm, due to Doncaster hosting Grimsby Town in a lunchtime kick-off. Rovers can look to the in-form Liam Mandeville, who was named November's EFL Young Player of the Month earlier this week.

AWARD: Doncaster Rovers' Liam Mandeville named EFL Young Player of the Month for November

Derek Adams' men then take on Accrington Stanley away, while Carlisle host Yeovil Town.

We'll find out our festive leaders on Saturday evening.

Southend's speedy starters

With just one win from their first seven fixtures, Southend United made a slow start to the Sky Bet League One season – only recently making their way up the division following a nine-match unbeaten run.

But there has been nothing slow about the way they start matches, with Phil Brown's side racing out of the blocks in the early stages.

In the first 15 minutes of games this season, Southend have struck 12 goals to give themselves an early advantage. They are yet to concede in that period.

That streak has been boosted by five early efforts in their last five matches, and this weekend they travel to Oldham Athletic, where they were a goal up after five minutes last term in a 5-2 win. Enough fives for one sentence?...

EFL sharpshooters

Things are black and white at the top of the EFL scoring charts, with Dwight Gayle and Omar Bogle leading the way with 16 goals apiece.

Gayle has starred in the famous stripes of Newcastle United since his summer arrival, proving a worthy number nine by helping the Magpies to the top of the Sky Bet Championship.

As for Bogle, he's already matched his National League tally from last term following seven strikes in his last five Grimsby Town outings – one of which earned him the Sky Bet League Two Goal of the Month award.

GOAL OF THE MONTH: November winners

Both are away, at Burton and Doncaster respectively, as they look to move top of the charts at Christmas.

Next in line is Barnet hotshot John Akinde, with 15, while the Sky Bet League One leaders are Scunthorpe United winger Josh Morris and Billy Sharp of Sheffield United, both on 14.

Follow, follow, follow...


Advertisement block