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EFL: Five things to look out for this weekend

13 January 2017

The EFL is back in full force this weekend after FA Cup action seven days ago, and there's plenty to keep an eye on.

Here are five things we've picked out, after what has been a busy week off the field in the EFL.

Changes at the top

Four managerial changes were made earlier this week, with Chesterfield, Crewe Alexandra, Northampton Town and Oldham Athletic all parting ways with their bosses.

Danny Wilson left Chesterfield with the club 22nd in Sky Bet League One, while a run of nine defeats from 11 games has seen the Cobblers slide down the table, culminating in Rob Page's departure.

Those two clubs both face games under caretaker management this weekend, but there will be new faces in the dugouts at Crewe, Oldham and Gillingham – however, they all have an ounce of familiarity about them.

Ady Pennock, who spent over six years at the Priestfield as a player, has been handed the reins at the Gills, and his first test as boss comes away at bottom side Oldham Athletic, who have called upon former boss John Sheridan for a change of fortune.

Read more: Sky Bet League One - Matchday 27 preview

Sitting 18th in Sky Bet League Two following relegation last term, Crewe have won just two of their last 17 league matches, and have moved quickly to replace Steve Davis at the helm.

Former club captain David Artell had “no hesitation in accepting” his first managerial role, and is looking forward to the opportunity to turn things around at Gresty Road.

Chairboys on the charge

Wycombe Wanderers are a team on the up.

Gareth Ainsworth's men have won eight of their last 10 Sky Bet League Two matches, only being held by current leaders Doncaster Rovers, and Plymouth Argyle, who topped the pile at the time.

They were 21st before the hot streak started, but they're now fifth and have played a game less than Carlisle United in the third and final automatic promotion place. Three points in that fixture would take them within two points of the Cumbrians.

In all competitions, it's 12 wins in 13, and that has seen the club earn a Checkatrade Trophy Quarter-Final place and a “dream” FA Cup Fourth Round tie at Tottenham Hotspur later this month.

Read more: Gareth Ainsworth wants to "make more memories for Wycombe Wanderers"

Next up, a home fixture against Yeovil Town.

Happy homecomings

It's been a busy January already for EFL clubs, who are moving to strengthen their squads for the second half of the 2016/17 campaign.

One of those clubs is Swindon Town, who have welcomed Ben Gladwin back this week for a third spell at the County Ground.

The midfielder starred for the Robins during the 2014/15 season, helping the club reach the Sky Bet League One Play-Off Final before moving to Queens Park Rangers.

He returned for a loan spell last term, and he's back once more to try and help lift the club from 19th place in the table. Luke Williams also swooped for a trio of Chelsea youngsters this week.

✍️ - @Official_STFC make a triple loan swoop from @ChelseaFC.

Islam Feruz, Fankaty Dabo & @OfficialColkz - who did this flick in October 😍

— EFL (@EFL) January 11, 2017

Birmingham City have also brought back a familiar face, with Craig Gardner becoming Gianfranco Zola's second signing since his appointment.

The midfielder, signed on loan but who will join permanently this summer, is a St. Andrew's favourite after helping the club to their famous EFL Cup triumph in 2011.

He's promising the fans passion on the pitch, and wants to “bring the buzz back” to the Blues.

"This was the only move I wanted" - Craig Gardner

Magpies' misery

Notts County fell to a crushing defeat at Morecambe last week, conceding four goals for the second game in succession. The loss was the 10th in a row, which is the worst run of form in the history of the club.

10 – Notts County have lost 10 consecutive league games; their longest ever losing run in Football League history. Sorrow.

— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 9, 2017

It doesn't get much easier this week when they host local rivals Mansfield Town, who have won three straight games in all competitions without conceding a goal.

Read more: Sky Bet League Two - Matchday 26 preview

In EFL meetings, the Magpies haven't taken maximum points in this fixture since 2005, with the Stags winning four of the eight since that August afternoon.

The club have been boosted by the news of a takeover, however, with Alan Hardy completing his purchase of the club this week and employing a new manager - Kevin Nolan.

"I am absolutely delighted that Kevin has agreed to become our new manager." - Alan Hardy

Derby days in the EFL

Notts County's Sky Bet League Two meeting with Mansfield Town isn't the only derby day encounter taking place in the EFL this weekend.

In the Sky Bet Championship, Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield Town clash in Yorkshire, with both clubs jostling for Play-Off positions as well as local bragging rights.

The Owls are sixth but will move within a point of their opponents with victory.

Further down the table, Wolverhampton Wanderers take on Aston Villa at Molineux, where Paul Lambert will be hoping to end his side's jinx against the club he managed between 2012 and 2015 – Wolves haven't won at home against their rivals since 1978.

Read more: Sky Bet Championship - Matchday 26 preview

There's also a derby at Ashton Gate, where Bristol City host Cardiff City in the Severnside derby, which kicks off at midday.

The Robins are 18th having lost their last six matches, while Cardiff are just below them in 19th and on a run of only one defeat in six. The Bluebirds will also take confidence from the fact they won the reverse fixture 2-1 in October.

And, not wanting to miss out, Sky Bet League One gets in on the action too, with Charlton Athletic and Millwall battling it out in the capital in a match that sees 11th take on 10th in the standings.

Charlton are yet to beat the Lions since the turn of the century, losing five times and drawing the other four.

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