EFL Fixture Highlights: Championship Takes Centre Stage

This weekend sees the first round proper of the FA Cup, with teams from League One, League Two and non-league in action. The main league action from the EFL will come from the Championship, and here is three fixtures to keep your eye on:

Leicester City v Leeds United

Friday night sees two of last season’s relegated teams go head to head at the King Power Stadium. League leaders Leicester City currently sit on 39 points, with a near perfect record of 13 wins from their first 14 games, their only defeat coming in the form of a 1-0 defeat at home to Hull City. The Foxes also boast the lowest goals conceded record in the league, with only eight goals let in over the opening 14 games. They are also level with high flyers Ipswich Town on the most goals scored with 29.

They have a host of attacking talent, including joint club top scorer Kelechi Iheanacho with five goals. They also have creative midfielder Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall who is level (Leif Davies, Ipswich Town) for the most assists with six so far this term.

The away side come in to the fixture sitting third in the table, just outside the automatic promotion spots. They have had mixed results away from home so far this season, with 10 of their 25 points coming in away fixtures. United are on a run of four wins from their last five, with their latest result seeing them win 4-1 at home to strugglers Huddersfield Town.

Manager Daniel Farke will be hoping to replicate what only one side has done so far this season, and beat the league leaders. He will be looking at his attacking trio of Joel Piroe, Daniel James and Crysencio Summerville, who have 14 goals between them this season.

Birmingham City v Ipswich Town

New manager Wayne Rooney has had a nightmare start to life at Birmingham, with his side losing all three of his opening fixtures in charge. The former Manchester United star will be hoping to kickstart his managerial career with a win over the highly impressive Championship newcomers Ipswich Town. It’s as difficult a fixture you could ask for under current circumstances, but a positive result may show there is hope that Rooney can get things right.

The Tractor Boys have had a sensational return to the second flight, and have carried on from where they left off last season. They have only lost once this season, in a 4-3 home loss against Leeds. They are currently level with the most goals scored with leaders Leicester, with their top scorer, Wales international Nathan Broadhead netting six. The Suffolk side will be looking to maintain their run of 11 games without defeat with a positive result at St Andrew’s on Saturday.

Rotherham United v QPR

It has been a poor start from both clubs, backing up the many that tipped both to be fighting relegation this term. The home side did well to maintain their Championship status last season, finishing 19th, above this weekend’s opponents on goal difference. They did go on to lose key players in the summer, including Chiedozie Ogbene, who joined Premier League Luton Town on a free.

A limited budget has seen a lack of added talent over the summer, with the club in another fight against relegation. Their latest result being a 2-0 away defeat to bottom of the table Sheffield Wednesday.

The away side come in to the fixture having parted company with manager Gareth Ainsworth. The decision comes after a run of six defeats on the bounce, with the latest being a 2-1 loss at home against Leicester. The club announced Marti Cifuentes as his successor last night, joining from Swedish club Hammarby

Writer’s View

The clash between Leicester and Leeds on Friday night should be an exciting one, with both teams are averaging well over 1.00 expected goals per game on average, and it is likely to continue here. The Foxes are looking near unbeatable at the moment, but as Hull have shown, it is possible and it wouldn’t be a shock if the attacking Yorkshire side go and get a result.

It’s possible to say that Birmingham made a mistake in getting rid of John Eustace, with their strong start to the campaign now dwindling. Ipswich are flying and have been the surprise package for many since their promotion from League One last season. It will be interesting to see if Rooney can turn his fortunes around, or wether the Tractor Boys will continue their chase for back-to-back promotions.

Rotherham against QPR already feels like a must win for both clubs, even this early on in the season. Its been a poor start from both, but a win here could be the push needed to start the climb out of the bottom three.

Predictions

Leicester City 3-1 Leeds United

Birmingham City 1-2 Ipswich Town

Rotherham United 1-0 QPR

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