• Nathan Smith


The Championship is back underway and re-join League One and League Two in providing some thrilling football and we have got four games that are set to steal the show.

The Championship – Coventry City vs Birmingham City (20th November – KO 7:45pm)

After a pretty strong start, Coventry have started to struggle in the Championship. Sitting just outside the relegation zone, the Sky Blues have lost four of their last five and have only won one in their last eight. Despite this poor run of form, Coventry have built a reputation for being able to take it to any team they come up against and this Saturday will be no different. Mark Robins will be looking to the enigmatic Gustavo Hamer to guide his team back into some form.

It is no secret that Birmingham City remain a side in transition. Under the guidance of Aitor Karanka, the Blues sit in 17th, a position many would expect a side like Birmingham to be around towards the end of the season. Before the international break, Karanka’s side picked up a disappointing home defeat at the hands of a resurgent Wycombe Wanderers and followed that up with a second consecutive home defeat, this time against Bournemouth.

Despite being ‘away’, Birmingham will need to up their form at the St Andrews Trillion Trophy stadium, as they prepare to ‘visit’ Coventry. With both teams hitting some poor form, this will certainly be an interesting encounter.

League One – Swindon Town vs Bristol Rovers (21st November – KO 3pm)

It has not been the greatest start to life at Swindon for John Sheridan, with his first two games featuring some awful defending, which has cost the Robins dearly. Sheridan would have certainly taken some confidence from the comeback against Shrewsbury, where Swindon recovered from a 3-1 deficit. However, Sheridan would have taken absolutely zero confidence from their 3-0 defeat at home to Accrington Stanley, in a game which Joe Fryer scored one of the worst own goals seen this year. Sheridan will be looking to young Arsenal loanee Matt Smith, who has consistently caught the eye of Swindon and Arsenal fans with his confident midfield displays.

After the sacking of Ben Garner, Bristol Rovers have acted quickly to bring in experienced manager Paul Tisdale to the Memorial Stadium. Tisdale will be looking for his new squad to bring their cup form into the league, as they are coming off two wins, against both Walsall and Chelsea U23’s. This was before and after a humiliating 4-1 defeat at the hands of Fleetwood, a game which saw Ben Garner dismissed from his role. There is certainly talent for Tisdale to work with, and he will be hoping to get off to a winning start.

In a battle between two new managers, Sheridan will be hoping to ruin Tisdale’s first day, as both sides look to distance themselves from a relegation battle.

League Two – Southend United vs Cambridge United (21st November – KO 3pm)

In what has been a dark year for Southend, Mark Molesley was able to bring some light to the Shrimpers by getting their first win of the season, away at Walsall. In terms of building on that win, it does not come much harder than welcoming Cambridge United to Roots Hall. Southend have not had the best defensive record this season, and Mark Bonner’s side are very much one of the strongest attacking sides in the EFL.

Cambridge United have unexpectedly rose to become one of the main title contenders this season. With the creativity of Wes Hoolahan and the goal scoring capabilities of Paul Mullin and Joe Ironside, Bonner’s side have been a nightmare for most defences to handle so far this season. A win against Salford City is sandwiched in between a 2-1 defeat against Crawley and a poor 1-1 draw against Barrow which could mean we are starting to see some inconsistency creeping into the U’s game.

If Southend can beat Cambridge, it will without a doubt be one of the biggest upsets this season, but with this season being the way it is, who knows.

WILDCARD – Stoke City vs Huddersfield Town (21st November – KO 3pm)

After a few years of being one of the most disappointing sides in the Championship, Stoke City have finally found themselves with Michael O’Neill at the helm. Having lost 3-2 to Watford in a close match, Stoke battered former league leaders Reading, sending them into the international break with some momentum. With the breakthrough of Tyrese Campbell and Harry Souttar, it is an exciting time for Stoke at both ends of the pitch. However, due to injuries to Adam Davies and Angus Gunn, O’Neill’s will be without a senior goalkeeper, which means they have had to recall 20 year old goalkeeper Joe Bursik from Doncaster Rovers, and it looks like he will be in between the sticks for the Potters.

Having left Marcelo Bielsa to take the reins at The John Smiths Stadium, Carlos Corberan is starting to see his faith in that high pressing style pay dividends. Many feared for Huddersfield and the Spaniard, as people felt that Huddersfield’s squad and lack of spending power may not be able to adjust to the new demands set by one of Bielsa’s students. After a 3-0 win away at Millwall, Bristol City sent the Terriers back down to earth but a 1-1 draw against an impressive Luton side means that Huddersfield will certainly be a tough test for anyone.

In a clash between two former Premier League sides, Stoke will be looking to add to their play-off push, while Huddersfield will be looking to drag themselves even further away from a relegation battle.