Saturday lunchtime sees a clash between the league’s top side – Burnley – and a Leeds team that has been inconsistent all season.
The Clarets, after three consecutive draws – the most recent of which was a goalless one against Cardiff on Tuedsay – now sit only a point clear of Middlesbrough, and two ahead of third-placed Brighton, so will be looking to pick up maximum points to keep their place at the summit.
Leeds, amongst all the protests surrounding the ownership of the club, sit in 15th position and are winless in three after their 1-1 draw with fellow mid table side QPR in midweek. The supporters of the Yorshire club will be cursing what might have been this season, after promising periods have often been followed up by patchy form.
Boro welcome Preston to the Riverside knowing that due to their game in hand, a real statement could be made this weekend regarding their title credentials. Three wins on the bounce, including a 3-0 win over Huddersfield on Tuesday, has left Boro just a point behind Sean Dyche’s Clarets.
North End sit 10th after a 2-1 home defeat to Fulham on Tuesday, and will know that any play-off hopes are now probably just beyond them.
Another battle between clubs with contrasting fortunes this campaign is Nottingham Forest against Brighton. Forest, who have been slipping down the table at an alarming rate lately after one win in ten, host a Brighton side still within a win of the top after a 2-1 win away at play-off hopefuls Birmingham City on Tuesday night.
Forest boss Paul Williams has stated that the club’s run of form, the most recent result being a 2-1 defeat away at Reading, will not force him to resign after just four games in charge.
Meanwhile, we may find out the first casualty of the Championship season this weekend, as bottom club Bolton take on sixth-placed Derby at the iPro Stadium knowing that only a win is enough to delay their fate by another match day.
The Trotters, who found themselves 3-0 down away at Brentford on Tuesday night after 36 minutes before going on to lose 3-1, currently sit 17 points away from safety with a possible 18 still to play for after a dismal run of eight defeats in their last ten games.
The recent fortunes of their hosts, County, could not be more different – the Rams romped to a resounding 4-0 win over fellow play-off hopefuls Hull City on Tuesday night to move themselves four points clear of seventh-placed Cardiff.
One of the other Championship matches of note this weekend is between two other clubs fighting for survival, as the resurgent Rotherham travel to MK Dons.
Three straight defeats for Dons has left them six points adrift of their visitors this weekend, and their 2-1 home defeat to mid-table Wolves on Tuesday night – having led 1-0 – will not have done Karl Robinson’s side’s fragile confidence any good.
Neil Warnock’s men on the other hand are unbeaten in their last seven games – a run which has included five wins – which has seen them claw clear of the relegation zone. Warnock – classed by some as a survival expert – guided his side to a 1-1 draw against fellow strugglers Bristol City on Tuesday.
Elsewhere, Bristol City welcome fifth-placed Sheffield Wednesday to Ashton Gate hoping to put more distance between themselves and the bottom three, Fulham will look to do the same against a Cardiff side within touching distance of the play-offs, Hull travel to Huddesfield hoping to get their title push back on track, and Brentford travel to Portman Road to take on Ipswich.
In the other two games, Wolves take on Blackburn in a distinctly mid-table clash, and Reading welcome Birmingham to the Madejski.
Championship Fixtures (Saturday 3pm, unless stated):
Burnley vs Leeds United (12:30pm)
Bristol City vs Sheffield Wednesday
Derby County vs Bolton Wanderers
Fulham vs Cardiff City
Huddersfield Town vs Hull City
Ipswich Town vs Brentford
Middlesbrough vs Preston North End
Milton Keynes Dons vs Rotherham United
Queens Park Rangers vs Charlton Athletic
Reading vs Birmingham City
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Blackburn Rovers
Nottingham Forest vs Brighton & Hove Albion (7:45pm)