Content Editor at Free Super Tips, Alex was born in the shadow of Old Trafford and is an avid Man Utd fan. After graduating from university he combined his love of football, writing and betting to join FST and now closely follows goings-on in all of the top European leagues.
With the third weekend of the Championship season now upon us, we look at the most exciting events taking place across three days of football which should provide plenty of entertainment. There are managerial returns, derbies and teams starting to look under pressure already, such is the unforgiving nature of Championship football. Read on for the five most exciting things happen in the league this weekend.
Garry Monk and Swansea Reunite
Garry Monk faces Swansea City on Friday night for the first time since he was sacked as manager in 2015. Before his 19-month spell as manager, Monk had been at the club for just over a decade, making 270 appearances for the club. He was part of the squad the club’s first major trophy, the League Cup in 2013 and their subsequent journey in the Europa League.
In 2014, after the sacking of Michael Laudrup, Monk became interim manager and kept the side from being relegated in the same year. In the following season, he had great success, leading the club to an eighth-placed finish, as they recorded doubles over Arsenal and Manchester United. After a run of one win in 11 games at the beginning of the 2015-16 season though, Monk was relieved of his duties and his association at the club ended.
After a managerial journey which has seen him in charge of Leeds and Middlesbrough, he now is manager of Birmingham City and can look forward to facing his old club after they were relegated from the Championship. Although he holds good feelings for the club, Monk has stated that he doesn’t care who his club face over 90 minutes but that he just wants to win.
With no wins in the league yet this season and after being knocked out of the Carabao Cup in mid-week, Monk knows he has to start picking up points quickly to avoid a classic Birmingham relegation season, which sees the club not safe until the final day. It should be an enthralling match then, with Birmingham fighting for a win against an in-from Swansea side, gaining confidence under Graham Potter and starting to play some good football.
A Yorkshire Derby
Leeds host Rotherham this weekend in what should be a fiery Yorkshire Derby. Leeds have been the standout team out of the entire Football League, playing an exciting brand of attacking, passing-based football that has seen them brush past fellow promotion candidates Stoke and Derby.
In Rotherham, they face a team that has come into form themselves, with two wins in the past week, against Ipswich in the league and Wigan in the Carabao Cup. This will give the club great confidence that they can stay up this year, as well as that their compact, direct style of play can keep them up.
Leeds won both matches in the season these two teams were last in the Championship but it may not be an easy match for the home side against a team who will be fired up for this game as underdogs. Can they hold off the formidable attack Leeds possess however?
Battle at the Bottom?
Reading host Bolton Wanderers this Saturday, which could turn out to be a crucial point in both club’s seasons. Both clubs were prediction for struggles this season and will have marked this game down as a six-pointer, although they have made contrasting starts to the season. Whereas Reading have lost both games in the league, Bolton are unbeaten and beat West Brom away from home on the opening day.
However, whilst Reading progressed in the Carabao Cup, Bolton were beaten by Leeds, and the home side should have some confidence coming into this match. New-singing Marc McNulty got an assist in the win against Birmingham and the club will be hoping that he and Sam Baldock can both open their accounts as quickly as possible. In addition, Reading have been competitive in both matches in the league and will be looking to get all three points.
If Reading lose to a Bolton side many expected to be rock-bottom at home however, it could be a sign that this season will see them drop down into League One, or at least one that is a battle to stay up from start to finish. No pressure then.
Can Aston Villa maintain their 100% start?
After such an uncertain summer period, Aston Villa fans cannot have asked for more from their team, as they have won the first three fixtures of the season for the first time since 1962.
The club has endured the threat of administration, to star player Jack Grealish leaving, and has come through stronger. Billionaire investors have pumped millions into the club, Grealish has stayed (for the time being), whilst the signings brought with the new money, particularly midfielder John McGinn, have integrated very well into the team.
They come up against an Ipswich side in transition, with new manager Paul Hurst slowly changing the style of team from that of the Mick McCarthy era. With so much confidence in the side, the opportunity is there for Villa to win four on the bounce. If they continue this level of form and with the experience of last season, the club could find themselves in the top-two. Early days, though.
Pressure on Stoke
The team with the most pressure on them this weekend is arguably Stoke. Billed as the pre-season favourites for the title, with tens of millions spent on players like Tom Ince and Benik Afobe, the club have not won either of their opening two league matches.
Not only that, but they have been dominated in both of those matches. Leeds looked a class above them in terms of style of play and fitness as they got beat 3-1 on the opening day, whilst they were lucky to come away with a point against Brentford at home. As manager Gary Rowett said after the Brentford match, his side have to wake up, and fast.
They come up against a Preston side who are incredibly tough to break down, even more so at home. They have won both their matches at home this season and will not make it easy for Stoke.
However, Afobe has scored in both games this season, whilst the team should settle down a bit now that the English transfer window has closed and players cannot be picked off by Premier League sides. It should be an interesting match and if Stoke don’t get a result, questions will start to mount.
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