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Five things to be aware of in the EFL this weekend

9 December 2022

We're back to a full schedule across the EFL this weekend for the first time in four weeks! Here are five things to look out for...

The return of the Championship

Almost a month since the last full fixture programme, the Sky Bet Championship is finally back this weekend.

We start with a local rivalry live on Sky Sports, as Blackburn Rovers host Preston North End in a lunchtime kick-off. North End have had some enjoyable trips to Ewood Park in recent years, unbeaten in five of their last six visits – although that one defeat was last season's meeting last December.

Also live on Sky Sports, league leaders Burnley return to action on Sunday with a trip to managerless Queens Park Rangers, who will take to the field for the first time since the departure of Michael Beale.

The R’s went into the mid-season break without a win in five matches, but got back on track with a victory over Scottish Premiership side Livingston in a friendly fixture at the end of November.

Meanwhile, Vincent Kompany’s Burnley have lost just one of their last 18 league games and were convincing victors in their most recent outing, seeing off bitter rivals Blackburn 3-0.

Elsewhere, Monday night’s televised match sees Sunderland AFC take on West Bromwich Albion. The Black Cats made their competitive return last week with an impressive 3-0 win against Millwall, while the Baggies recorded three successive victories in November under new boss Carlos Corberán.

New managerial eras begin

There will be a couple of new faces in Championship dugouts this weekend, with Rob Edwards and Kolo Toure taking charge of Luton Town and Wigan Athletic, respectively, for the first time.

Edwards started the year at Watford, but was relieved of his duties towards the end of September. He kicks off his Hatters tenure with a tricky away trip to Michael Carrick’s resurgent Middlesbrough.

On the other hand, Toure will experience matchday as a manager for the first time, having been a first-team coach at Celtic and Leicester City for the past five years.

The Latics, who currently languish in the relegation zone on goal difference, travel to Millwall, who will hope to return to winning ways after their defeat to Sunderland last weekend.

Local rivalries recommence

Preston vs Blackburn isn’t the only local meeting we’ll see this weekend.

The latest instalment of ‘El Glosico’ takes place at 2pm on Saturday, as Forest Green Rovers welcome Cheltenham Town to The Bolt New Lawn. The two sides met just over a fortnight ago in the Papa Johns Trophy, with Cheltenham triumphing on penalties after a 1-1 draw in normal time.

Elsewhere in Sky Bet League One, Derby County make the short journey to Burton Albion, with the Rams looking to extend their 11-match unbeaten run in all competitions.

The two teams have only previously met twice at the Pirelli Stadium. On both occasions, it was the hosts who came out on top, backing up a 1-0 win in 2016/17 with a 3-1 success the following season.

Golden Boot race heats up

While the Championship standings remain as tight as ever, the competition for the division's Golden Boot is stronger than it's been for years, with eight players currently claiming joint ownership of top spot on nine goals.

Four more lurk just behind on eight, meaning we'll likely see at least one forward hit double figures for the campaign this weekend. Who are you backing to achieve the feat first?

Season ticket holders at new highs

Season ticket holders are a hardy and loyal bunch, with many enduring the freezing temperatures this weekend for the love of their team.

And the commitment of those fans was put into focus this week when it was revealed that EFL Clubs have sold the highest number of season tickets for this campaign in more than two decades.

New figures show over 550,000 season tickets have been bought, the highest number since the turn of the century.

Sales have increased across all three divisions, with the Championship up 17%, League One up 8% and League Two up 22%.

Junior season ticket sales are also up 29% on last season, showing how attractive EFL Clubs are becoming for families and the success of the EFL’s Family Excellence Scheme.

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