A gruelling Championship season really gets kick started this Tuesday and Wednesday evening when all teams will be testing their endurance with three games in a week. This is personally a real strength on the Football League, having the opportunity to build momentum or to quickly have the opportunity to bounce back from a weekend disappointment. I take a look at the three games you might want to keep an eye out for over these two days which particularly capture a real interest.
Cardiff City vs Sheffield United – Tuesday (7.45)
The Bluebirds sit top of the table after two wins from their opening two games and this has very much sparked thought that Neil Warnock’s side could be a dark horse for a play-off position. Beating promotion favourites Aston Villa 3-0 at the weekend certainly will breed confidence and you feel if they can win these sort of games at home they can cause a few shocks by reaching the top six. Sheffield United go into the match having felt big disappointment about not getting a point at the Riverside Stadium at the weekend, this is also encouraging for the Blades having won on the opening day.
There doesn’t seem to be much in it between the two and both have similar styles in terms of keeping it resolute and are gritty sides to come up against. This is the type of fixture where both teams can propel themselves into a comfortable position and start eyeing up the play-offs however it’s so early in the season you would think Sheffield United will be looking to keep it tight at the back and maybe settle for a point if needed. Both Billy Sharp and Kenneth Zohore are off the mark and I would expect a game of few chances so a clinical finish from either of these forwards could make all of the difference.
Millwall vs Ipswich Town – Tuesday (7.45)
Another side that have taken maximum points so far is Ipswich Town which will delight Mick McCarthy. The Tractor Boys will have been largely unfancied again with the resources at their disposal compared to their competitors but they have made a bright start and have a decent opportunity to test Millwall this evening. The Lions hammered Forest’s goal on the opening day without scoring and lost a great chance for 3 points after they led Bolton at home at the weekend. This is slightly concerning for Neil Harris going up against a resilient opposition as you sense Millwall could do with a kick-start of their season with three points to boost confidence after relegation from the Championship last time they were in the second tier.
Millwall’s home form is often tipped as a pivotal factor for determining the club’s success so it could be important that they start to build a fortress ahead of this campaign and no win against Bolton and Ipswich would not be promising for the club. Once again I expect there to be a direct match up in terms of playing style with both looking to go direct at times using a 4-4-2 formation. This could quite easily mean that both sides cancel each other out particularly if Ipswich look to settle for a draw away from home. With McCarthy bringing on McGoldrick and Waghorn who both grabbed goals to find a win at the weekend, it could once again be a crucial factor with his four forward options which could decide the game.
Sheffield Wednesday vs Sunderland – Wednesday (7.45)
I feel that pressure could easily start to mount on Carlos Carvalhal should his side not get off to a good start this season. It’s far too early to be making conclusions at this stage but the Owls need to get off the mark in terms of winning ways as soon as possible with expectations of once again being in the top six. The fact Winnall and Forestieri have had a spat doesn’t help matters and this means Carvalhal’s management will be tested again. They entertain a Sunderland side who will be pleased with how they have responded to relegation last season. This should make it a fascinating game in terms of season expectations, the Black Cats are a bit of an unknown quantity with such a hard task for Simon Grayson to respond to last campaign’s shocking exploits but equally they could be considered as play-off hopefuls just as much as anyone in the division.
However this is a chance for Hillsborough to push their side to victory under the lights, Sunderland do have frailties you still feel and you have to fancy Wednesday for the win if they are in the mood. Again the battle of the strikers could hold some interest, Lewis Grabban who I don’t particularly rate has got off to a flyer and looks to be holding down a strong partnership with James Vaughan, they can certainly cause problems to the hosts back line as the Owls only have one fully fit centre half in line to play. This has the makings for danger as Grayson will no doubt look to keep it compact and then exploit this when possible. Rhodes and Hooper both need to find the net still and answer a few questions. This could go plenty of ways but I have a feeling Wednesday will rise to the occasion.
Prediction: Sheffield Wednesday 3-1 Sunderland
What are your predictions for these games? Let us know in the comments below!