Weekend Boxset: Championship special



Seven great matches to take you from Friday to Sunday. It's the Sound of Football Weekend Boxset.

All times are GMT


Friday



Championship: Sheffield United v Sheffield Wednesday


19.45 on Sky Sports Football & Main Event


Listeners to this week's podcast will have heard Terry's appraisal of Wednesday's new head coach Jos Luhukay. The Dutchman has spent most of his coaching career in Germany winning Bundeliga promotions for Augsburg and Hertha Berlin (with a record Bundesliga 2 points tally) but arrives at a Wednesday side in free-fall. In their last league game they lost 3-0 to relegation-placed Burton, one of a few improving teams below them in the table who could easily overtake the Owls in the coming weeks if Luhukay can't hit the ground running. For the Blades, things aren't much better; one win in nine has seen them go from a side challenging for the top to one slipping from the play-off positions. More than local pride at stake here.
 



Saturday



Championship: Cardiff City v Sunderland


12.30 on Sky Sports Football


A few weeks ago this fixture would have been easy to predict: Cardiff were riding high while Sunderland were adrift at the foot of the table. The Black Cats are still at the foot of the table and while Chris Coleman has not brought a spectacular turnaround in their fortunes, his team are slowly picking up the odd result here and there and sometimes that's all you need to avoid the drop. Four league defeats in a row for Cardiff against beatable opposition have allowed Wolves to open up a twelve point lead at the top of the Championship. A lengthening injury list and the feeling that the Bluebirds were probably punching above their weight for the first half of the season, go towards explaining the sudden drop-off in Neil Warnock's side's results - and it's exactly that sort of drop-off that Sunderland need to take advantage of in their escape bid.
 



Championship: Nottingham Forest v Aston Villa


17.30 on Sky Sports Football & Main Event


Aitor Karanka becomes the 20th full time appointment at the City Ground since Brian Clough left Forest just short of 25 years ago. Last week's result in the cup against Arsenal was a perfect showcase for the kind of talent Gary Brazil has helped bring through the Forest youth ranks, it will be interesting to see if Karanka sticks with the winning formula or looks to make a few panic buys before the window closes. Steve Bruce's side got a couple of decent wins at the turn of the year against promotion rivals Bristol City and Karanka's former club Middlesbrough; results that were much needed after a dismal December. It was a much changed Villa side that was knocked out of the Cup at home to Peterborough but they will be almost back to full strength for this one. All of which sets up a tasty clash between two former European champions. Alternative viewing: If you've had your fill of the Championship by this point, you might want to switch to a choice of viewing on BT Sport. BT Sport 1 are at Wembley for Spurs v Everton, while BT Sport 3 have the the return of the Bundesliga from its winter break with RB Leipzig taking on Schalke.
 



La Liga: Deportivo de La Coruña v Valencia


19.45 on Sky Sports Football


Valencia have lost their last two on their travels against high-flying Eibar and Getafe - results that have somewhat taken the shine off of what had been an excellent first half of the season for Marcelino's side. La Coruna's most recent home game was a humbling 3-1 defeat in the Galician derby against Celta Vigo just two days before Christmas. They now sit just one point above the relegation zone but a hard fought 1-1 draw at Villareal last time out would suggest there's still some fight in this side. La Coruna's equaliser was scored by Romanian striker Florin Andone, making his first start since Pep Mel was fired at the end of October. Andone had been linked with a move to Brighton this transfer window. Given the amount of badge kissing he did after scoring, he's certain to be on his way very soon.
 





Sunday



Premier League: AFC Bournemouth v Arsenal


13.30 on Sky Sports Premier League & Main Event


This week saw what appears to be the most convincing reports of plans to replace Arsene Wenger as manager of Arsenal. Carlo Ancelotti was named in the Italian press as already having agreed terms in principle to take over at the end of the season. The club have denied these claims but the 58 year old former Chelsea boss is between jobs right now having been sacked by Bayern in September and is looking to move to London next month for some, as yet unknown, reason. Never a stranger to pressure, more and more seems to pile on to the Frenchman each day: the embarrassing cup exit last weekend, the protracted Sanchez transfer saga and a growing injury list have done much to over-shadow that they really aren't having that bad a season, comparatively speaking, of course. Ryan Fraser's late winner for Bournemouth against Everton in their previous home game was their first win in ten and pulled them out of the relegation zone - they soon could be back in there if they fail to get anything out of this game.
 



Premier League: Liverpool v Manchester City


16.00 on Sky Sports Premier League & Main Event


This fixture was much anticipated when the sides met in September - Liverpool came into the game having torn Arsenal apart 4-0 but City had yet to show what they were capable of. The turning point came in the 37th when Liverpool, a goal down at the time, were reduced to 10 men with Sadio Mane being adjudged to have deliberately kicked Ederson in the face. City took full advantage and ran out 5-0 winners and have been spanking everyone since. Liverpool are perfectly capable of extracting some semblance of revenge here (if they manage to keep all 11 on the field) even without Coutinho. The game promises to be one of fast moving attacks, so be ready for a 0-0 grind.
 



La Liga: Real Sociedad v Barcelona


19.45 on Sky Sports Football


Those hoping to see Coutinho in a Barcelona shirt will have to wait three weeks for him to recover from a thigh injury (yes, he really did have one). As is common among the top sides in the top leagues of Europe, Barca are coasting clear and unbeaten at the top of the table. It's unlikely their unbeaten record will be endangered here but Sociedad have at least scored against all the big hitters that have come to San Sebastian so far this season - a record they will do well to maintain against a Barcelona side that has conceded just three goals on the road. Sociedad could have Adnan Januzaj back among their number having missed the defeat to Leganes with a thigh problem of his own.



Whatever you watch, have a great weekend



Graham (@grahamsibley)



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