• Nathan Smith

EFL WATCH: FOUR GAMES YOU CANNOT MISS THIS WEEKEND


THE CHAMPIONSHIP - AFC Bournemouth vs Watford (27th February - KO 12:30pm)


Jonathan Woodgate has had a mixed start to life in the AFC Bournemouth hot seat. After a good start, with the Cherries going unbeaten in his first four games, with three wins. However, Bournemouth have lost some form as of late, losing two on the bounce to two of the leagues in-form sides, QPR and Cardiff. With Woodgate now the permanent manager, it will be interesting to see how his side develops with more stability and freedom for the former Middlesbrough manager to implement his own style.


Xisco Munoz was almost a man under pressure at Watford, with a lack of goal scoring presence and general lacklustre performances was starting to frustrate the Watford faithful. But after a switch to a 4-3-3 and the return of exciting young striker Joao Pedro has seen a big upturn in form which has solidified the Hornets automatic promotion push. If the front three of Ismaila Sarr, Ken Sema and Pedro are starting, then it could be a long afternoon for the Bournemouth defenders.

Two relegated sides both chasing promotion, Woodgate could make a big statement with a win here, and Watford could find themselves in second place with a win on Saturday.


LEAGUE ONE - Rochdale vs Burton Albion (27th February - KO 3pm)


Despite being one of the highest goal scoring teams in League One, Rochdale have actually failed to find the net in their last three games. While only conceding one goal means that they've only had one defeat in those three, Brian Barry-Murphy will be desperate to turn the tide in front of goal and give those solid defensive performances the three points they deserve. While they are outside the relegation zone, only four points seperates them and their bottom placed opponents Burton Albion so a win is needed for Rochdale.

In a short space of time, Burton Albion have gone from a team that stood no chance of staying up, into a team that is looking like they will remain in League One next season. Most of this is down to the appointment of former manager Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink and the recruitment done to strengthen the squad. After a disappointing defeat against Sunderland, Burton picked themselves up and secured a fantastic 2-1 win away at Charlton, which shows the fighting spirit of the team.


In a relegation six pointer, both sides will be desperate to get all three points to put them one step further in the race for survival.


LEAGUE TWO - Bolton Wanderers vs Barrow (27th February - KO 3pm)


After six games without a win throughout late December and January, more and more pressure was building on Bolton Wanderers manager Ian Evatt as they drifted further down the table. However, following some good recruitment, Bolton have now gone six games unbeaten, playing more into Evatt's style which has seen Bolton become real play-off contenders. The likes of Eoin Doyle and Alex Baptiste have been vital to Wanderers turn in form and will look to keep that going.


After only two months, Barrow parted ways with Michael Jolley after not much success in his short time with the club. Sitting in 23rd, Barrow are certainly in danger of being sent straight back down to the Conference and Rob Kelly has a big task on his hands, having been handed the temporary role until the end of season. Compared to the sides around them, Barrow haven't been the worst in the league in both goals scored or conceded, but their inability to consistently get results has lead to them being in 23rd.


Ian Evatt will be looking to continue his winning run against his old side, while Rob Kelly will be hoping to build on Barrow's 1-0 win against Oldham on Tuesday.


WILDCARD - Derby County vs Nottingham Forest (26th February - KO 7:45pm)


Wayne Rooney has done a good job since his move to manager at Derby County, moving them away from the relegation zone and he now has Derby looking at a comfortable mid table finish. They had some good news as of late with in-form striker Colin Kazim-Richards signing a contract extension, and after a good win against Huddersfield, the Rams will be looking to build upon that.


Chris Hughton has done a similar job to Rooney, taking an underperforming side out of a relegation battle and into a comfortable mid table position. A lot of good recruitment helped Forest but also the team buying into Hughton's defensive tactics with Forest only conceding one goal in their last five games. The Joe Worrall and Tobias Figueiredo defensive partnership has flourished in recent weeks and they'll hoping to continue that form on Friday.


The East Midlands Derby looks set to be a more cautious clash, but form goes out of the window for a derby and hopefully it will be an exciting clash in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

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