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After an unexpected hiatus for the Queen’s death, the EFL season will resume mid-week with a full schedule of games across all three divisions.
The championship rarely disappoints us and the season is already turning into a classic with some unexpected teams joining the expected promotion challengers in the early weeks.
We take a look at the second tier midweek action here by keeping you up to date on the talking points of the season so far.
KNIFE ARE DEFINITELY MISSING NO CUTTING EDGE
Sheffield United, painfully beaten by Nottingham Forest in last season’s play-offs, have simply come back stronger and look determined to return to the Premier League the easier way.
It was a great start to the campaign from Paul Heckingbottom’s side, who led the table as they head into this midweek round, when they visit Swansea.
Sheffield United have started the season well with Oli McBurnie finally back in the goals
The Blades have not lost in the league since opening weekend at Watford, winning five of the seven games they played, including notable home wins over Blackburn (3-0) and Reading (4-0).
Iliman Ndiaye, who plays comfortably as a striker or attacking midfielder, has already scored four goals, while Sander Berge has scored three from midfield.
The signing of Bosnian central defender Anel Ahmedhodzic also appears to have been inspired. Not only has he kept things tight in the back, he also has a knack for scoring.
Iliman Ndiaye got off to a productive start to the season as the Blades set the early pace
It also helps that Oli McBurnie has rediscovered his touch for goal. He had played 43 league games without finding the net until he headed the Blades equalizer at Luton last month, but now he has three out of three.
Most expected United to be in and around the top six by the end of the season, but their very positive start has raised expectations that they could be promoted automatically.
How the top eight in the championship look ahead to the midweek series of games
NORWICH ARE GIVEN FROM TOP TO TOP!
All bookmakers tipped Norwich to return to the Premier League immediately – as they usually do – before a ball was kicked this season.
But as they held onto the championship after not winning any of their first three games, some wondered if Norwich’s yo-yo had been broken.
There was no need to worry though, as Dean Smith’s side have won the next five in the competition to restore themselves to more familiar heights ahead of Wednesday’s home game with Bristol City.
American Josh Sargent has started the season well for Norwich, scoring five goals
Josh Sargent has been their outstanding player thus far, scoring five times and offsetting the usual hotshot Teemu Pukki, whose playing time had to be limited due to a bruised foot.
The Finn, who has scored 29 and 26 goals in his last two seasons at this level, returned to form with a goal in the 3-0 win over struggling Coventry last time.
Norwich still have a very strong squad for this level and we haven’t seen much of Gabriel Sara, the talented Brazilian midfielder who signed from Sao Paulo for £11million this summer.
If their two previous promotional seasons have anything to offer, we can expect Norwich to click through the gears in the fall and establish themselves at the top.
Norwich will likely rely on their prolific Finnish striker Teemu Pukki . for the coming season
Midweek match schedule
7:45 PM kick-off unless otherwise stated
Blackburn Rovers vs Watford
Huddersfield Town vs Wigan Athletic
Hull City vs Stoke City
Middlesbrough vs Cardiff City
Swansea City vs Sheffield United
Preston North End vs Burnley (8pm)
Live on Sky Sports Main Event and Football
7:45 PM kick-off unless otherwise stated
Luton Town vs Coventry City
Millwall vs Queens Park Rangers
Norwich City vs Bristol City
Rotherham United vs Blackpool
Reading vs Sunderland (8pm)
Live on Sky Sports Main Event and Football
West Bromwich Albion vs Birmingham City (8pm)
Live at Sky Sports Arena
INCE TRANSFORMED READING
Last season was a mess for Reading as they avoided relegation on the skin of their teeth.
Paul Ince, who replaced Veljko Paunovic as interim manager in February, was finally handed the reins after he held them high and they suddenly look much better.
That’s despite the fact that you have absolutely no money to spend over the summer with every freebie or loan signing. Ince has managed to put all the different parts together into a decent side.
Lucas Joao was in the doubles when Reading beat Stoke 2-1 last time on a strong start
The Royals have been especially strong at home, winning all four games so far and there is a good chance it will be five out of five when they play Sunderland on Wednesday.
If they can manage their form – 4-0 losses to Rotherham and Sheffield United were a reality check – then there’s no reason Reading can’t compete for the top six.
Ince’s son Tom has started the season well, while Lucas Joao has scored three goals so far. This included two last time outs in the televised win over Stoke.
Paul Ince sent Reading to safety last season and now wants to move on to promotion
CAN NIGEL FINALLY LEAD BRISTOL CITY TO THE BIG TIME?
Bristol has always been regarded as one of the largest cities that has never housed a Premier League football club.
They came closest when they lost the 2008 play-off final to Hull and have since failed to crack the top six, finishing a humble 17th last season.
But the first proof of the current campaign is that Nigel Pearson’s team could finally do it if it’s vastly improved.
Optimism at Ashton Gate was not particularly high as they lost their first two games to Hull and Sunderland, but a run of six unbeaten runs in the competition, including four wins, has turned the mood.
Tommy Conway celebrates Bristol City’s scoring in Blackburn amid encouraging start
Nigel Pearson’s side could only finish 17th last season but have improved
Goals were no problem with 20-year-old graduate Tommy Conway who has already scored six times in all competitions and his fellow forwards Andreas Weimann and Nahki Wells have scored four apiece.
Conway just won the EFL Championship Young Player of the Month for August.
They face a tough midweek assignment in Norwich, but if they avoid defeat to the promotion favourites, faith will only grow that this could be their time.
USUAL PROMOTION SUSPECTED ON THE LEATHER
While Reading and Bristol City have raised some eyebrows, it’s no surprise that Burnley and Watford round out the top six after eight games.
Both were considered contenders to return to the Premier League the first time they asked, and while far from being completely convincing, they are taking a lot of points.
Vincent Kompany’s Burnley have only lost once this season, but they need to turn more draws into wins if they are to push for automatic promotion.
Burnley players celebrate a Jay Rodriguez goal during their 1-1 draw at West Brom
Considering the turmoil on Turf Moor over the summer, with so many stalwarts leaving and new players settling in, they don’t look bad.
On Tuesday, they’ll make the short trip to Preston North End, where they’ve only scored twice thanks to the extraordinary binary run of deficits, but conceded only once so far this season.
Watford also started again under manager Rob Edwards, but remarkably they managed to keep star men Ismaila Sarr and Joao Pedro outside the transfer window.
Ismaila Sarr celebrates his goal in Watford’s win over Middlesbrough last month
Both were on schedule for the first few weeks, including new signing Vakoun Bayo, and the Hornets have only suffered one loss so far.
Like Burnley, they too must figure out how to turn one point into three, starting with Tuesday’s trip to Blackburn.
THE TEAMS IN PROBLEM
It’s still early in the season to get worried, but several teams have started much slower than they would have liked.
Problems with the Coventry stadium pitch mean they have to make up for three games but only one point out of the five games they have played in alarming form.
Huddersfield made it to the play-off final last season but started poorly under Danny Schofield, who took over when Carlos Corberan left in July.
It was far from an ideal start to the season for Coventry, both on and off their devastated field
Cardiff and Birmingham could kickstart their seasons, while Stoke fired manager Michael O’Neill before August was even out, replacing him with Sunderland’s Alex Neil.
Swansea have been tipped by some to do well this season and must build on their 1-0 win over QPR last time after a slow start.
What the bottom six of the championship look like when the midweek round