Welcome to the fourth edition of our EFL Championship preview series for the 2019/20 season. We’ll be taking a closer look at two of the key midweek games, as well as having a crack at predicting the outcomes of all 12 fixtures.
Championship Preview: Matchweek 4
Derby County v Bristol City
Two teams who many are tipping to reach the play-offs go head-to-head on Tuesday night, as Derby host Bristol City. The Rams have made a solid start to the season under new manager Phillip Cocu, beating recently-relegated Huddersfield Town 2-1, before claiming draws against Swansea City and Stoke City.
Bristol City spent big in the summer, bringing in 12 new faces. Amongst those are former Wolverhampton Wanderers hitman Benik Afobe, ‘keeper Daniel Bentley from Brentford, and centre-back Tomas Kalas. They got off to a slow start as they lost at home to Leeds and had to settle for a draw at Birmingham. However, Lee Johnson’s men got back to winning ways on Saturday with a 2-0 victory over Queens Park Rangers.
A win for either team against a potential play-off rival could provide the impetus to kick start the 2019-20 season.
Cardiff City v Huddersfield Town
The Terriers seem to be suffering from a post-relegation hangover, as they’ve only managed to pick up one point from their opening three Championship clashes. And to make matters worse, they were on the end of a shock EFL Cup defeat by League One outfit Lincoln City. Huddersfield have only won one league game this calendar year, and confidence is clearly non-existent in the squad. Caretaker manager Mark Hudson will be desperate for his side to taste that elusive winning feeling.
Meanwhile, fellow Championship newcomers Cardiff have also had a difficult start to life back in the second tier. The Bluebirds did manage to scrape a late 2-1 victory over Luton in their first home game back in the EFL, but Warnock’s men have suffered defeats at Wigan and Reading.
Championship Preview: Predictions
Derby County v Bristol City
Two well-fancied teams do battle here, and it could certainly go either way in one of the world’s most unpredictable leagues. Both sides will certainly look to take the game to each other, and even as the away team, Bristol City will still look to play expensively under their attack-minded manager Lee Johnson. If their new-look squad has started to gel, they could nick a point here.
Derby County 2-2 Bristol City
Cardiff City v Huddersfield Town
Huddersfield are just used to losing games at the minute, and it’s often a very difficult habit to get out of. Cardiff is never an easy place for opposing teams to visit and even after sacking manager Jan Siewert, it’s difficult to see the Yorkshire outfit picking up a positive result here.
Cardiff City 2-0 Huddersfield Town
Birmingham City v Barnsley
Barnsley have had the epitome of a mixed start to the season – winning once, drawing once and losing once in their first three matches back in the Championship. Interestingly, Birmingham have the same record. Both teams are still adapting, as Birmingham look to reinvent their style of play under new manager Pep Clotet, and Barnsley are hoping to continue to compete at this level after promotion. A score draw seems likely here.
Birmingham City 1-1 Barnsley
Hull City v Blackburn Rovers
Blackburn claimed their first victory of the season on Saturday, seeing off Middlesbrough courtesy of a Danny Graham penalty. Hull have picked up four points from their first three matches under new boss Grant McCann. The Tigers managed to keep hold of winger Jarrod Bowen, who is the only current player in the division to score 20+ goals last term. He could be the difference in what seems like a potentially tight contest.
Hull City 1-0 Blackburn Rovers
Middlesbrough v Wigan Athletic
New Boro boss Jonathan Woodgate has endured a tough start to his Middlesbrough tenure. The Teesiders have only picked up one point in the Championship so far, as Woodgate hopes to stamp his attacking style of play on his squad. However, Wigan only picked up two away wins last season, and their 3-0 defeat at Preston on matchday two suggests their struggles on the road will continue.
Middlesbrough 2-1 Wigan Athletic
Sheffield Wednesday v Luton Town
Despite being brought back down to earth with a 1-0 defeat at Millwall on Saturday, Wednesday can still be encouraged by their start to the season. The Owls sit sixth after winning two of their first three games. Conversely, newly-promoted Luton are yet to win a league game following their promotion to the Championship. Graeme Jones has encouraged his team to play a possession-based style, but Wednesday have already beaten two teams who play that way so far this season.
Sheffield Wednesday 3-1 Luton Town
Charlton Athletic v Nottingham Forest
Charlton are yet to lose a Championship game this season, as the post-promotion feel-good factor continues to sweep through this part of South London. Meanwhile, Sabri Lamouche picked up his first league win as Forest manager on Saturday. The Reds comfortably beat Birmingham 3-0 at the City Ground. However, the Tricky Trees have only won twice on the road since last October. With striker Lyle Taylor in red hot form, we can see the Addicks sneaking this one.
Charlton Athletic 3-2 Nottingham Forest
Fulham v Millwall
Two wins in their last two matches for Fulham, who seem to be putting the misery of last season’s relegation to the back of their minds. With a squad that boasts the likes of Tom Cairney, Anthony Knockaert, Ivan Caveliro and Aleksandar Mitrovic, the Cottagers should have too much for their London rivals. It is worth noting that Millwall have made a decent start to the season themselves, but they could come crashing back down to earth at Craven Cottage.
Fulham 3-0 Millwall
Leeds United v Brentford
Leeds have made a strong start to the campaign, picking up seven points and climbing to the summit of the table in their first three outings. The agony of last season’s near-miss has been cast aside as United claimed maximum points against Bristol City and Wigan. They should pick up their first home victory here against Brentford, who have had a mixed start to the season despite high pre-season expectations.
Leeds United 2-0 Brentford
Preston North End v Stoke City
Stoke have endured a torrid start to the season, sitting bottom of the league with just a solitary point. Their performances haven’t been as bad as results suggest, but Nathan Jones knows that the Potters will have to start picking up points soon. However, confidence has been low in Stoke’s dressing room for a while now, and Preston will harbor ambitions of finally breaking into the top six this term. Deepdale is known as a tough place to go, and North End backed that up with a comfortable win over Wigan in their only home match so far.
Preston North End 1-0 Stoke City
Queens Park Rangers v Swansea City
Swansea have enjoyed an impressive start under new boss Steve Cooper. They’ve claimed seven points from their opening few matches. Their first away game ended 0-0, and we fancy them to claim a point against a QPR side who also drew in their only home game so far this campaign.
Queens Park Rangers 0-0 Swansea City
West Bromwich Albion v Reading
Reading bounced back from losing their first two matches by posting an impressive 3-0 victory over Cardiff. The Royals have been boosted by the acquisition of exciting Romanian starlet George Puscas, who netted twice in Sunday’s victory. Despite their obvious quality, the Baggies struggled at home last season. And this season they’ve failed to beat Millwall twice at the Hawthorns (in league and cup). Many people will be surprised to hear this, but the Berkshire club could nick a point here.
West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Reading