Another weekend of NPower Championship football sees fixtures from the past, players joining and leaving the division and a couple of six-pointers. TheHardTackle takes a look at 10 things you should be looking out for in the next 7 days of NPower Championship action:

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1. A retro Premier League fixture list

When reading this weekai??i??s NPower Championship fixture list, you would be forgiven for thinking you have gone back in time and are perusing the Premier League schedule.

This is due to the fact that out of 12 matches on offer this weekend, five of them pit a former Premier League team against a side that they met in the top division. At St Andrews, Birmingham City entertain Watford, whilst still in the Midlands, bottom side Coventry City play host to Middlesbrough. Over in Yorkshire, former Premier League giants Leeds United play Ipswich Town at Elland Road, whilst struggling Nottingham Forest travel to East London to face West Ham United. On Monday night, the roundai??i??s fixtures are completed when leaders Southampton look to consolidate their position at the top when Leicester City visit fortress St Maryai??i??s.

2. Hello and Goodbye

With two-thirds of the transfer window gone, the next seven days will see some players saying hello to the NPower Championship, whilst others bid it goodbye.

So far, new faces to the division include Sunderlandai??i??s 20-year old striker Ryan Noble who has joined Derby County on-loan, whilst former Manchester United trainee Joe Dixon has gone to West Ham United. Leaders Southampton have utilised the loan market to bring in Spanish midfielder Yago Falque from Tottenham Hotspur. The Spain Under-21 international has been on-loan at White Hart Lane from Spanish giants Juventus, and has made a handful of appearances for Harry Redknappai??i??s men in the Europa league. After Spurs made the move from Italy permanent, the talented youngster has immediately gone on loan to the Saints.

One player who looks to be on his way out of the Championship is Leeds Unitedai??i??s inspirational captain Jonny Howson. With the talented 22-year old midfielder out of contract in the summer, the Whites had no option but to ai???reluctantlyai??? accept an undisclosed offer from Premier League Norwich City. After progressing through the Leeds youth set-up, Howson has played 225 times for his boyhood club, scoring 11 times. His departure will be aAi??big loss to Simon Graysonai??i??s side as they look to make the play-offs.

On his way - Jonny Howson

Ai??.

3. Hitman misses return to old club

One player who has already been on the move in January, is Lukas Jutkiewicz. The striker was the one shining light for bottom club Coventry City in the first half of the season as he netted 9 goals. Such was his fine form, as soon as the transfer window opened, Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray swooped for the strikerai??i??s services.

After coming on as sub last weekend in the 2-0 home defeat to Burnley, Jutkiewicz should have been in line for his full debut this weekend, but with Boro travelling to face Jutkiewicz’s old club Coventry, a gentleman’s agreement means the prolific hitman will not feature.

However,Ai??TheHardTackle still believe that Middlesbrough have enough firepower to pick up the three points.

4. Clash of the form sides

Saturday sees two of the divisionai??i??s form sides meet at Turf Moor.Ai??Eddie Howeai??i??s Burnley have won seven out of their last 9 league games, with an impressive 2-0 victory away to Middlesbrough last time out. With on-loan Manchester City right back Kieran Trippier impressing in defence and goals guaranteed through 14-goal top scorer Jay Rodriguez, the Clarets have moved to within 3 points of the play-offs.

Their opponents on Saturday are Derby County, who themselves are on a fine run of form. With 4 successive league wins and 6 out of 7 in all competitions, Nigel Cloughai??i??s men sit one point ahead of Burnley in the race for a top six finish.

In what is sure to be a close game, TheHardTackle predicts that home advantage will be enough to see the Clarets get the three points to move above the Rams.

5. A relegation six-pointer


The weekend also sees an important clash at the bottom of the table as Bristol City host Doncaster Rovers.Ai??Following poor starts, managerial changes saw upturns in form at both clubs. But, despite the victories which include both sides beating top of the table Southampton, both City and Rovers still find themselves in the bottom 5.

Both sides have strikers who are in demand this transfer window. Robinsai??i?? hitman Nicky Maynard has been linked with a move away from Ashton Gate, while Donnyai??i??s Billy Sharp recently turned down a move to Leicester City.

With the threat of relegation hanging over both clubs, Saturdayai??i??s clash is a real six-pointer. We believe it is too close to call, so we will play it safe and go for a draw.

6. A promotion six-pointer

In another top-class encounter, Reading go in search of their fifth successive home win when they host Hull City.

As well as their home form, the Royals have picked up points on their travels to move them into fifth place. Joining them in the top six on 42 points are Nick Barmbyai??i??s Hull. Following Barmbyai??i??s caretaker-manager role, the Tigers celebrated their bossai??i?? permanent appointment by beating Peterborough United 1-0 last weekend.

Both sides will be keen not to get beat in this promotion six-pointer, so TheHardTackle predicts that the honours will be shared.

7. Marlon King

One player to look out for this weekend is Birmingham City striker Marlon King.

The prolific hitman has endured somewhat of a troubled past, with a series of off-the-field problems resulting in spells in jail, sackings from previous clubs and constant abuse from rival fans.

But, after making the move from Coventry City, King has been in fine form for Birmingham, hitting 11 goals as the Blues have climbed to seventh in the table as well as enjoying a Europa league campaign.

This weekend, King faces Watford, the club where he first made his name. In 93 games for the Hornets, King netted 48 times as Watford reached the Premier League.

On Saturday, King, who netted twice in Birminghamai??i??s 6-0 win at Millwall last week, will be hoping to find the net again and push Brum further up the table.

8. Brighton embroiled in controversy

After picking up two league wins on the trot and overcoming plucky Blue Square Premier league leaders Wrexham on penalties in the 3rd round FA Cup replay to set-up a glamour home tie with Newcastle United, Brighton should be basking in glory.

However, the feel good factor around the Amex Stadium didnai??i??t last long as early on Thursday morning, as the players returned from North Wales following the cup tie, the club became embroiled in controversy as five of their players were arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting a woman in July 2011.

A spokesman for the Seagulls confirmed the arrests, but declined to make any further comment.

9. Bluebirds or Eagles on the way to Wembley?

One thing sure to happen over the next seven days is that a Championship club will make it through to the Carling Cup final.

On Tuesday evening, Crystal Palace will travel to the Cardiff City Stadium to defend a 1-0 first leg lead. It promises to be a tense, exciting 90 minutes as the two sides battle it out for a place at Wembley where they will meet the winners of the Manchester City v Liverpool tie, in which the Anfield club currently lead 1-0.

10. How many will Posh score?

As is TheHardTackle tradition, we ask how many goals the divisionai??i??s entertainers Peterborough United will be involved in this weekend.

Posh were involved in another 1-0 game last week when they were on the wrong end of a Robert Koren strike at Hull City. That result made it seven games since Darren Ferguson’s entertainers were involved in a game which heralded more than two goals.

So hopefully, Brighton’s trip to London Road on Saturday will result in a goal-fest.Ai??If not, we may have to have a rethink about our nickname for the Posh.

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Click here for a full list of NPower Championship fixtures

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