Monday, March 20, 2023

Championship Preview: Lancashire Derby And Aston Villa Vs Newcastle Headline A Bumper Week-End

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Will Godley
Will is a lifelong Brentford fan. Currently 20, he dreams of being a full-time writer one day.

This week’s round of Championship fixtures begins on Friday, as Preston North End take on Wigan Athletic in a highly-charge Lancashire derby. Although, the stand-out fixture is undoubtedly Saturday’s heavyweight clash between Aston Villa and Newcastle at Villa Park, in what has been one of the top flights more traditional fixtures down the years. Elsewhere, Leeds take on Ipswich and surprise table-toppers Huddersfield Town, travel to in-form Reading.

When you see the names Aston Villa and Newcastle United, you instantly picture two established Premier League sides. Teams, who down the years, have traditionally been top-half teams in the first division. However, last year’s turbulent Premier League campaign, saw these two giants demoted to the Championship. For Villa, who had sent the Toon down in 2009, it was their first relegation in the Premier League era.

Both have spent big this summer in the hope of an immediate return to the big time, but respective managers Roberto Di Matteo and Rafael Benitez, have already experienced the high and lows of the world’s most competitive league.

Heading into this mouth-watering Championship fixture, Newcastle lie reasonably contentedly in 3rd position, after suffering a 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Wolves last Saturday. Villa meanwhile, have continued their abject form of the previous campaign and currently sit in 18th place. Turning draws into victory has been Di Matteo’s cause for anguish so far this season, and you wonder if anything other than a win this Saturday, will appease the club’s demanding supporters.

Before that, though, we will be treated to the prospect of two struggling Lancastrian clubs battling it out on Friday night. Wigan, currently sitting in the relegation places after a shaky return to the second flight so far, make the short trip to Deepdale, to take on 19th placed Preston – sat three places outside the bottom 3. Simon Grayson’s Preston side head into this game in mixed form, having been demolished at Brentford 5-0 last weekend before upsetting AFC Bournemouth in the EFL Cup 3rd round, in mid-week. They will be looking to bag a valuable 3 points against a side who they have only beaten once in their last nine attempts.

However, aside from those two highlighted fixtures, this match week also features a handful more appetising encounters. One of those will be the meeting of two in-form sides at Molineux – as Brentford travel to Wolves, in what should be a hotly contested game. While at Elland Road, Garry Monk will be desperate to bounce back from last weekend’s defeat to Huddersfield, when his Leeds team face Ipswich.

Across Yorkshire, Sheffield Wednesday will host Nottingham Forest in another fixture that many English football purists will tell you, is worthy of the top flight. Notable points of interest in that one surround the visitors, with Nicklas Bendtner making his Forest league debut and his manager Phillipe Montanier battling to save his job following a poor start to the season.

Nottingham Forest v Norwich City - Sky Bet Championship

Then to the promotion chasers! Huddersfield Town, under the stewardship of the entertaining German-American coach David Wagner, will look to maintain their sensational start to the campaign, when they travel to Reading. They, managed by Dutch legend, Jaap Stam, are also in fine form. Chelsea’s on loan John Swift has been impressive so far for the Royals and will look to be at the centre of an upset. Second-placed Norwich City host Burton Albion – enjoying their first ever Championship season – at Carrow Road. The Canaries will head into that one in the knowledge that a Huddersfield slip-up would open the door for them to move to the summit of the division.

Unmentioned fixtures

Brighton v Barnsley, Fulham v Bristol City, Derby v Blackburn, QPR v Birmingham and Rotherham v Cardiff.

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