Things to look out for in the Championship this weekend
It is another mouth-watering action of Championship football this weekend, with a number of intriguing story-lines and derby duels.
Steel City Derby
Sheffield United welcome Sheffield Wednesday in the second Steel City Derby of the year. Chris Wilder's men dispatched of Wednesday, at Hillsborough, earlier in the season in a convincing 4-2 victory. It came amidst a stunning beginning to the season, where the Blades showed promise of a second promotion push. Though their form has slipped recently - they currently sit 7th - they will still harbour playoff ambitions and are by no means out of the picture.
For Jos Luhukay, it is his first league game in charge. A relatively unknown quantity, the way in which he negotiates the fire and intensity of this derby will be telling. It adds extra spice to what was already a salivating tie. Friday nights, folks, so switch the television on and watch the passion unfold.
Welcome back, Coleman
Chris Coleman will return to the Cardiff City Stadium for the first time since that haunting final-match defeat against the Republic of Ireland, which condemned Wales to elimination. Coleman is still revered around Wales and will receive a warm reception.Sunderland still sits rock bottom of the league, but they are only two points adrift of safety after an upturn in results and performances.
The Black Cats have won two of their last five league outings, drawing one and losing to Barnsley and Sheffield United. They've begun to show a steel and stoicism at the back, with Coleman having brought organisation and discipline.
Cardiff City, meanwhile. experienced a torrid Christmas, having lost four on the bounce. Few saw this dramatic decline in results coming, but the Bluebirds have been fortunate in that those around them have failed to take the initiative. As it is, they are just two points behind 2nd placed Derby County and still have genuine aspirations in gaining automatic promotion.
On the surface, welcoming a team in the relegation zone would be the perfect way to bounce back, but this is the last fixture the Bluebirds will have wanted. Neil Warnock's side has found it notoriously hard to break down stubborn opposition and Coleman's side will be no different. It might be a happy return for the ex-Welsh boss but a not so happy day for the City faithful.
A catalyst moment for Norwich City?
Norwich City's 0-0 draw with Premier League champions Chelsea was the product of a battling and commendable performance. Daniel Farke suggested it might go on to spur his side to a playoff surge. The Canaries sit 13th and 9 points of the play off-spots, but in the Championship, this is a small margin.
Norwich's season has been a tale of consistency, with promising performances being undermined with a frustrating result. If the Canaries can use their draw with Chelsea as motivation, they possess the quality to begin knocking on the door.
Bristol City enters the clash on the back of a laudable performance against Manchester City in the semi-final of the Caraboa Cup, where they demonstrated more bravery that most Premier League clubs. The worry is, however, that the sheer effort the Robins put into the fixture will mean they welcome Bristol with jaded, tired legs.
The larger concern will be whether their cup run will have an unfavourable impact on their league form. Indeed, since they knocked Manchester Untied out of the competition, they have not won in the league. Lee Johnson will have to ensure their bid for the Premier League is not derailed.