Category Archives: Championship

Cardiff City v ReadinG Preview

Cardiff City will host Reading on Saturday in matchday three of the championship. The bluebirds head into the fixture on the back of a good 2-0 away win at Nottingham Forest. Reading have managed two wins from two beating against both Derby and Barnsley by two goals to nil.

Rivalry

The two sides met four times last season drawing both league meetings and two FA Cup games. Reading won the reply on penalties. So expect another tight contest. There was plenty of off the field between the two clubs as well with Reading accusing Cardiff supporters of racist/homophobic chanting at the Madejski and a Reading supporter being ejected at the return fixture for mocking the death of Emiliano Sala.

The Managers

Cardiff boss Neil Harris held a virtual press conference this week and said:

“After three points on Saturday and a dominant performance, of course everyone is on a high in the training ground,”

Neil continued:

“If you can win two or three games in a rowit shoots you up the division, the same as losing three or four. That’s where consistency becomes vital over a period of time. We didn’t have it in our first game, but in the second game we were very good.

“This week to the same against Reading, we’ll have to play very well. We’ll have to be solid defensively against a very good front four, and create goal scoring opportunities from a combination of fluent football, set plays and direct play”.

Reading manager Veljko Paunovic said ahead of the game:

“Cardiff are a good team though coming from a good result. We know their strengths. And, on the other side, we know what we can do welland this is what we can improve”.

Players to Watch

For Cardiff striker Kieffer Moore will be looking to add to his two goals at Forest last week. The big forward is key to Cardiff’s attack with his hold up play as important as his goals.

Marlon Pack played a vital part in Cardiff’s win protecting the back four and helping build up Cardiff Attacks. He told Cardiff City TV:

“Without there being any supporters in there its a bit different, but you still want to create an atmosphere and an intensity at your home stadium”.

For Reading Yakou Meite haunted Bluebird fans last term scoring three times. He has one already for this season scoring from the bench in the 2-0 win v Barnsley.

Portuguese international Lucas Joao for has a flying start to the season and has netted four goals in all competitions. A hat trick in the EFL cup against Colchester and the opening goal in the win at Derby.

How To Watch

This game is avaible to watch on ifollow or can be seen on Cardiff City TV.

Prediction; Cardiff City 1-0 Reading

This will be a close game Reading are in good form but the Bluebirds will be feeling good after a two nil win away to Forest. Cardiff to edge this won.

EFL OPENING WEEKEND ROUNDUP

Whilst the eyes of the football world focused mainly on Liverpool against Leeds and Chelsea’s new look squad, under the radar dotted around the UK the English Football pyramid also began the 2020/21 campaign this weekend in earnest.

Here is your roundup of all the goings on and everything you need to know!

Championship

All three relegated clubs kicked off their season with wins as they all look to bounce back at the first time of asking. Norwich striker Adam Idah grabbed an 80th minute winner away against Huddersfield Town, whilst an early Craig Cathcart strike was enough to give Watford an opening day victory against Middlesbrough.

A Bournemouth side under new management after Eddie Howe’s departure got themselves entangled in a classic with Blackburn Rovers, the Cherries running out eventual 3-2 winners thanks to a late goal from Arnaut Danjuma.

Last seasons play-off final runners-up Brentford lost their opening day clash away at Birmingham City. Swansea City who made the play-offs semi-finals in dramatic fashion kicked off their season with an impressive away win at Preston North End, Wolves loanee Morgan Gibbs-White with the only goal.

Other Results

Wycombe Wanderers 0-1 Rotherham United, Barnsley 0-1 Luton Town, Milwall 0-0 Stoke City, Cardiff City 0-2 Sheffield Wednesday, Bristol City 2-1 Coventry, QPR 2-0 Nottingham Forest, Derby County 0-2 Reading.

League One

There was plenty of goals around League One as Sunderland began another season in the third tier with a 1-1 draw at home to Bristol Rovers.

Ipswich Town kicked off what they hope will be a successful season with a 2-0 win against Wigan with Teddy Edwards and Gwion Edwards on the scoresheet, whilst Swindon Town were perhaps most impressive on the day as they ran out 3-1 winners against Rochdale.

Northampton Town and AFC Wimbledon played out a 2-2 draw at Sixfields Stadium with all four goals coming in the first half.

Other Results

Lincoln City 2-0 Oxford United, Doncaster Rovers 1-1 MK Dons, Gillingham 0-2 Hull City, Portsmouth 0-0 Shrewsbury Town, Fleetwood Town 2-1 Burton Albion, Plymouth Argyle 1-0 Blackpool Town, Accrington Stanley 2-0 Peterborough, Crewe Alexandra 0-2 Charlton Athletic.

League Two

The story of the day in League Two came at Roots Hall, but it wasn’t for Southend United. Instead Harrogate Town in their first ever football league game ran out 4-0 winners with a Jack Muldoon brace at the heart of the victory.

Cambridge United went second just a goal behind the newcomers as they beat Carlisle United 3-0 at home. Manchester United legend owned Salford City drew 2-2 with Exeter City.

Morecambe left it very late as they crept past Cheltenham Town, a 92nd minute winner from Carlos Mendes Gomes giving the Shrimps all three points in a 2-1 first day win.

Other Results

Scunthorpe United 1-1 Newport County, Oldham Athletic 0-1 Leyton Orient, Barrow 1-1 Stevenage, Bolton Wanderers 0-1 Forest Green, Port Vale 2-0 Crawley Town, Mansfield Town 0-0 Tranmere Rovers, Walsall 1-0 Grimsby, Bradford City 0-0 Colchester United.

With Carabao Cup action this midweek the EFL ties will begin again on Friday night with Coventry v QPR in the Championship.

Is the Sky Bet Championship the Best League in the World?

The latest Podcast episode for 24/7 Football features sports journalist Peter Moore discussing his articles, which include the dramatic conclusion to the 2019/20 Sky Bet Championship season, how Leeds United might fair in the Premier League and how VAR can be improved upon for the new season…..

How do you reckon Leeds United will fair in the Premier League this season?

What more do you reckon can be done to improve VAR?

You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the link below: https://soundcloud.com/adam-stephens-425096853/24-7-football-episode-5

You can also watch the Webcast here:

Forest looking stronger with transfers

Nottingham Forest have been strengthening following their disastrous final day collapse at the end of the 2019-20 season. They have made 5 summer signings so far and I will assess why and how they will make them stronger and aid their push for promotion.

The first signing was a return of a familiar face in that of Jack Colback. Colback enjoyed 2 successful loan spells with the reds in 2018-19 where he made over 50 appearances and now returns on a permanent contract. Such was the success of his previous spells forest tried to bring him back last summer but were put off by wage demands. The midfielder brings plenty of experience with him having made over 200 appearances in the North East regularly featuring in the Premier League. He will add depth to the defensive midfield options beyond Ben Watson and Samba Sow who are liable to missing matches.

Next to arrive was the signing of defender Tyler Blackett. The 26-year-old moves to The City Ground on a permanent contract having left Reading at the end of last season. Blackett started his career in the youth ranks at Manchester United, making 12 first-team appearances for The Red Devils, and gained experience on loan at Blackpool, Birmingham and Celtic. He will provide needed competition for the left back and centre back positions.

Then came the striker Forest have been looking for, Lyle Taylor. The experienced frontman moves to The City Ground having left Charlton Athletic at the end of last season. Taylor scored 11 times for Charlton last season, a rate of a goal every other game for The Addicks in the Championship, to finish as their joint-top scorer. Forest fans have been crying out for another proven striker to take the burden off Lewis Grabban and give the manager the option of rotating his striker position. Taylor was the obvious choice as he was available on a free transfer and brings excellent scoring rate, a prolific 34-goal season with Concord Rangers earned him a move to Bournemouth in 2010. After a move to AFC Wimbledon in 2015, Taylor settled and regularly found the back of the net, helping The Dons to promotion from League Two and to cement their spot in League One prior to firing Charlton to promotion from the third tier in 2018-19 with 25 goals. Forest would have beaten of plenty of competition for his signature.

Next through the door was the permanent signing of midfielder Fouad Bachirou. e Comoros international moves to The City Ground from Swedish top-flight side Malmo. Bachirou started his career at Paris Saint-Germain before moving to Scottish side Greenock Morton, making over 140 appearances ahead of joining Swedish side Ostersunds. During his time with Graham Potter’s side, he lifted the Swedish Cup in 2016-17, and was a runner-up in the following campaign, before switching to Malmo in 2018. The midfielder has extensive experience of both the Champions League and the Europa League during his time in Sweden, helping Ostersunds reach the Europa League round of 32 in 2017, while reaching the same stage of the competition with Malmo in the past two seasons. He will like Colback provide a defensive midfield option.

The latest signing was the arrival of Luke Freeman on a season-long loan from Sheffield United with an option for a permanent transfer. Freeman, an experienced forward/midfielder who has played over 150 times in the Sky Bet Championship, came through the ranks at Arsenal’s academy and after a couple of loan spells in Leagues One and Two he went on to sign for Bristol City. The 28-year-old featured regularly for The Robins and was instrumental in Lee Johnson’s side gaining promotion to the Championship in 2015, as he played over 100 times in three seasons at Ashton Gate before he joined Queens Park Rangers in 2017. Two successful seasons at Loftus Road followed as Freeman’s impressive midfield performances saw him crowned Rangers’ 2018-19 Player of the Season and earn a move to the newly promoted Premier League Blades. Freeman brings a lot of quality in both creating and scoring goals along with versatility. He could play as a left sided forward or an attacking midfielder. The second option brings me nicely to possible departures from the city grounds as 2 play the role.

Tiago Silva has been linked with a move to Olympiacos, owned by Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis. Silva was a regular in the midfield last season and is a popular figure and one I hope remains at the city ground. Another Portuguese playmaker Joao Carvalho provides much debate amongst Forest fans since his ÂŁ13 million record breaking signing in 2018. He had a positive start to his Forest career under Aitor Karanka but since then a change in tactics, injury problems and a lack of confidence has hindered him greatly. There is a 50/50 split between fans who think he should be in the team regularly and those who think he should be moved on.

Finally we come to the biggest story of the Forest’s Transfer Window – The future of player of the season Matty Cash. He has attracted interest from premier league sides Sheffield United and Burnley but it Aston Villa who appear to be the closest to signing him. Cash is a product of Forest’s academy a hugely popular figure with the fans, especially since he was switched from right midfield to right back at the start of last season. His performances have been outstanding, a vital part in Forest’s attack and defence. Many attacks develop between him and Joe Lolley on the right side which would be a massive miss if he departs.

The only confirmed departure so far has been Tyler Walker who joined Coventry on a permanent transfer. Further arrivals and departures could be on the cards as rumours are Benfica youngster David Tavares, Birmingham Striker Lukas Jutkiewicz and Newcastle winger Jacob Murphy are on Forest’s radar.

Have Fulham learnt from their disastrous ÂŁ100m spending spree?

After the celebrations of the return of Fulham back to the Premiership at the first time of asking, it is time to take a step back and access their chances of surviving in the Premiership next season.

It is a well know fact in football that sides who get promoted through the play-off route in the Championship, normally struggle.

In recent times the likes of Aston Villa, Huddersfield, Hull City, Norwich City and QPR all finished in the bottom six places in the division.

Two points that may make it possible for Fulham to survive in next seasons campaign would be the Manager and the experience of being in the top flight of English football before.

In Scott Parker they have an astute man in charge of the Cottagers. In the play-off final against Brentford his master tactics came out on top. By spotting the gap at Brentford’s near post and Joe Bryan’s technical ability to find that gap was a pure master stroke from the former West Ham player.

Since Parker has been put in charge, he has turned around the club’s fortunes. Just two years ago on transfer deadline day in the summer of 2018, five players were signed as the clock ticked down to zero.

Fulham spent an astonishing £100 million on no less than twelve players, only to look considerably worse for signing these players.  In season 2018-19 Fulham sacked Slavisa Jokanovic and Claudio Ranieri but a second play-off victory in three seasons gives them a chance to heal some scars.

For the club to survive next season in the top flight of football they will have to learn by their mistakes of 2018. Pointless splashing out that amount of money to try and survive in the Premiership. In truth, it rarely works out.

Parker needs to keep the spine of this current side to have a chance of surviving. The key player to hold on to has to be Aleksandar Mitrovic. The goal machine will learn by his poor return when Fulham were last back in the top flight. If he does so and can get back to a return of around twenty goals in a season, then the London club have a good chance of staying up.

They also need to keep the likes of Tom Cairney, Aboubakar Kamara, Denis Odoi and Tim Ream. If they can hold on to this talented group, then they could realistically keep out of trouble.

Parker will know that the hard work starts now. It will be an interesting few weeks before next seasons campaign as to what he will do in the transfer market. Key to their chances of survival will also be who they bring in.

In terms of the other two promoted sides Leeds United and West Brom. For the Yorkshire club with the flamboyant Marcelo Bielsa managing at the main table this will b e a massive challenge for him. His toughest assignment to date and hardest task for the upcoming season will be to survive.

Under normal circumstances with Leeds outstanding fan base and home fans would be worth a lot of points for the club but the likelihood of having no full capacities for the foreseeable future, this could well go against the Whites.

West Brom under Slaven Bilic look like a side that could well survive next season. Having the advantage of previously being in the Premiership for eight seasons, the Baggies know exactly what is required not to face a relegation battle.

One thing is for sure, having three shrewd and intelligent managers in the form of Parker, Bielsa and Bilic managing in the biggest league in the world and pitting their wits against other more experienced managers is going to be a sight worth seeing.