The Championship is an unforgiving league at the best of times. We’re seeing an incredible clamour at the top, with five teams separated by two points at the summit. Those teams are trading blows every week in order to move top of the pile. However, a little further down we’ve seen a few sides come from nowhere to get within touching distance of the play-off spots.
While Norwich set the standard for form in the Championship, they’ve put themselves into the title fight. However, both QPR and Birmingham have moved away from the drop zone and into reach of the top six in recent weeks, thanks to stellar runs. The coming weekend brings huge tests for them, as they each prepare for home matches. Will there be more success for those two, or are they set to sink back into danger?
Ahead of the next round of fixtures from the Championship, we’re looking ahead to some of Saturday’s crunch games.
Blues Facing Bouncing Tigers
Going over two months without a loss is something which would shake many clubs after their first defeat. That’s now the test for Birmingham as they prepare to clash with Hull City this weekend. Monk has to face a real test of his side now, having had a turbulent time in the second city. From last season’s relegation fight to a transfer embargo and their early struggles, the Blues have had their issues. They certainly weren’t marked down as a team capable of making a push for the play-offs, but they’re within reach now.
The Championship is known for sides coming from nowhere to make the top six. The play-offs tend to feature a surprise side, and Birmingham could be that team. They’ve shown their potential in their recent form, but now they face a decisive clash. Can they respond to their defeat with a win, and prove that they have staying power? Or will they slip up to the Tigers, which would suggest that the Blues soared through momentum alone?
Making things more complicated is Hull’s back to back wins. They have rare success under their belt, making an important game even more difficult for the home side.
Can Bees Sting QPR?
They sat 19th in the table at the start of October. After that, four wins and a draw shot them into the top 10. They were just two points off the play-offs, before they lost in a tricky visit to Blackburn last weekend. That narrow loss was a setback, but they still sit in the top half, just three points shy of a place in the play-offs. That gives them a chance to kick on this weekend, when they face a faded promotion candidate.
QPR host Brentford on Saturday, facing the same test as Birmingham. Can they prolong their spell in the top half, potentially kick on or will they slide back down? QPR do have issues facing them, but McClaren has been able to overcome them. Ahead of a clash with the out of from Bees, a side who have yet to win on the road this season, morale should be high at Loftus Road.
Can Baggies Claim a Boost?
The Baggies have a difficult game in prospect this weekend, as they meet league leaders Leeds. The Elland Road side haven’t been brilliant of late, but they’ve done enough to hang in among the top sides. A 2-1 win at Wigan last weekend saw them move into first place once again, and Marcelo Bielsa’s hopes of taking them up have been reignited.
The Hawthorns tends to be a difficult place to go, as they’re a point shy of the league high for home records this season. However, they’ve slipped up at home recently, losing to promotion rivals Derby. It could be that Leeds – who have the league’s best away record so far this season – have had this fixture land for them at the perfect time. While Leeds haven’t stood out in recent weeks, they can lay down a marker in their bid to take the title with a result away to the Baggies this weekend. For the hosts, they could be left needing to arrest a month-long slump.
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