With just six points separating the top thirteen teams in the Championship, the final weekend of fixtures in October bring together some eye watering encounters.
As with every week in the Sky Bet Championship, the drama is set to unfold again from this evening.
Friday night lights
The weekend’s programme of fixtures will start live on Sky Sports Football tonight at Loftus Road when Steve McLaren’s QPR side welcome Aston Villa. McLaren has enjoyed a change of fortune with the R’s in recent weeks and it is partly down to their resolute defence, with Rangers having conceded just once in their last four games.
The visitors enjoyed the perfect start to Dean Smith’s new tenure last Saturday but were undone by Norwich in midweek. Smith will hope for his striker Tammy Abraham to continue his recent form in front of goal as Villa look to try and overturn one of the worst away records in the league this season, having not won away from home since the first day of the campaign.
Rampant Rams travel to the Riverside
After Derby’s demolition job against West Brom on Wednesday night, the Rams travel to 2nd placed Middlesbrough hoping to continue their supreme form against the promotion chasing pack, in Sky Football’s live Saturday afternoon game (k.o. 12.30pm).
Victories against Sheffield United and West Brom in consecutive games have propelled Lampard’s side in to 5th place but a win at the Riverside would see them leapfrog Boro and Leeds in to top spot, at least temporarily. They will be confident of doing just that, with goals coming from all over the pitch this season, including striker Jack Marriott who is in a rich vein of form and has three goals in his last three league games.
Boro meanwhile were thwarted by a resolute Rotherham United side in a goalless encounter on Tuesday night and will be hoping to re-discover their form for the visit of the Rams. They have only lost once at home all season though and their record at the Riverside against Derby is good with just one defeat in the last four meetings.
In form sides to continue their climb up the table?
Both Norwich and Birmingham won in midweek to extend their respective unbeaten runs in the Sky Bet Championship.
The Blues won 2-1 against Reading on Tuesday night meaning Gary Monk’s side are now unbeaten in the last ten matches. Their victory was only their second win at home this campaign, but they remain unbeaten and will be big favourites to continue their run for the visit of Sheffield Wednesday who come in to the game on the back of having suffered consecutive defeats. As ever in this league however, expecting the unexpected is what fans have become accustomed to.
Norwich meanwhile, who have now just lost one game in their last 12 Sky Bet Championship games, go in to this weekend’s match against a Brentford side still feeling the effects of a seven goal thriller at Deepdale, where they lost 4.3. The Canaries are one of three sides (along with West Brom and Derby) who sit just two points off the top of the pile and will be thankful for the return to form of their striker Jordn Rhodes, whose two goals in midweek were the first he’d scored in ten league games.
30 year home hoodoo
Sheffield United are a side who are enduring a tricky spell having only taken a point from their last two encounters. They face Wigan tomorrow, who they have haven’t beaten at Bramall Lane in the league for over 30 years.
The Blades remain third though and depending on other results are another side who could end the weekend top of the pile come Saturday night. The Latics – who are still unbeaten on home soil - have only one one away in the league this season, at Stoke in August.
Around the grounds
West Brom have lost two on the spin and Darren Moore’s team will be hoping to rediscover their goalscoring habits as they entertain Blackburn Rovers at the Hawthorns. Rovers’ enjoyed a big win against Leeds last weekend and despite having led at Swansea at half time on Tuesday, they succumbed to a 2-1 defeat in Wales.
Preston North End will be hoping they can capitalise on the feel good factor from their win over Brentford on Wednesday as they welcome strugglers Rotherham United to Deepdale. Paul Warne’s side haven’t travelled well this season but will be encouraged by a strong performance against Middlesbrough in the week, where they picked up a point.
There’s a battle at the bottom on Saturday as Ipswich Town travel to Millwall having only won one of their last six games. Their record at The Den is good in recent years though, having picked up maximum points in their last two visits. But the Lions will be confident of securing back to back wins for the first time this season.