After the international break pressed pause on proceedings in the Sky Bet Championship, this weekend is shaping up to be worth the wait. Here’s our preview on a mouth-watering programme…
New Aston Villa manager Dean Smith has initially been tasked with steadying the ship at Villa Park after they secured just one win in the Sky Bet Championship since Matchday Two under Steve Bruce.
Back in August, Smith oversaw a 2-2 draw there with Brentford – only denied all three points by a late injury-time equaliser – and will make his debut in the home dugout this Saturday against the visiting Swansea City, two points above the Villans and the same distance again away from the play-offs.
Tomorrow’s encounter is the first time these sides have met in the second tier since 1960. The Swans have been victorious in their last five against the Villans, who have beaten the Welsh team just once since 1982.
Despite Swansea winning in their last trip to Villa and having the upper hand in recent league form – two wins and two losses in their previous seven – both sides tasted defeat going into the international break. Three points for either side tomorrow will prove a welcome tonic and move them nearer to the chasing pack.
With Smith vacating to Villa, Brentford promoted assistant head coach Thomas Frank to manager on Tuesday. He’ll aim to get the Bees back to winning ways after failing to win in their last six has seen them drop out of the play-offs positions.
His mission begins at home to Bristol City, who themselves have not won in their last five despite recording four successive wins earlier in the season. Last time at Brentford, they scored an equaliser in the eighth minute of injury time to draw 2-2.
Recent history of this encounter still favours Frank’s side, the Bees winning six of their last eight meetings with the Robins. Bristol City’s last league victory at Brentford was a five-goal thriller in 2005, although they have won twice since in the EFL Cup.
This season, tomorrow’s visitors have been just as productive on their travels – they have an identical record of two wins, two draws and two defeats, having scored eight and conceded seven, from their opening six matches at home and away.
Yet the Bees will not be fazed, unbeaten at home with 14 points from six matches, a record only bettered by West Bromwich Albion.
Around the grounds
There are three fixtures on Sky Sports for you to enjoy. Play-off occupants Sheffield Wednesday and Middlesbrough will face each other on Friday night, both with four victories from their last 10 encounters in all competitions.
Blackburn Rovers host Leeds United on the Sky Sports Red Button at noon on Saturday. The latter have dropped out of the automatic promotion spots but have won their last four against Rovers, who have not bagged three points at home in the Sky Bet Championship since August.
Chris Wilder has won the Sky Bet League Two and League One title in the last three seasons and has now guided Sheffield United to the top of the Championship after eight wins in their last 10 league matches. Derby County will look to upset their current run when they meet live on Sky Sports at 5:30pm on Saturday.
Elsewhere, the division’s top scorers West Bromwich Albion travel to Wigan, who are unbeaten at home this season, at the bottom Hull City and Preston North End will do battle.
Friday 19th October
Sheffield Wednesday v Middlesbrough (kick-off 7:45pm – live on Sky Sports)
Saturday 20th October (kick-off 3pm unless stated)
Blackburn Rovers v Leeds United (kick-off 12pm – live on Sky Sports Red Button)
Aston Villa v Swansea City
Brentford v Bristol City
Hull City v Preston North End
Ipswich Town v Queens Park Rangers
Nottingham Forest v Norwich City
Reading v Millwall
Rotherham United v Bolton Wanderers
Stoke City v Birmingham City
Wigan Athletic v West Bromwich Albion
Derby County v Sheffield United (kick-off 5:30pm – live on Sky Sports)