Several promotion contenders face early tests in the third round of Sky Bet Championship fixtures, after a lively weekend.
Who will gain an early advantage in the promotion fight and will the losers return to the transfer market?
Derby vs Preston
Both sides were play off contenders last season but will be looking to fight for promotion this time around.
Derby come into this game off the back of a 2-0 defeat to Midlands rivals, Wolverhampton Wanderers. That match saw the lack of unity exposed with Wolves stretching the Rams before slipping through to get their goals.
Preston on other hand were at fellow play off contention fallers, Leeds and managed a respectable 0-0, despite losing Ben Pearson to a red card. They will surely be happy with another 0-0 draw here but have an awful league record at Pride Park this century.
Personally, this match will be scrappy but expect Derby to just find that extra quality to nick it.
Prediction: Derby 1-0 Preston
Result: Derby 1-0 Preston
Hull vs Wolverhampton Wanderers
Both sides come into this meeting with confidence after gaining wins at the weekend.
Hull will be favourites at home but need to be united and solid against a tricky Wolves side, who will try and stretch them open before running in to score.
The Midlands club are however missing Helder Costa, who could cause problems for Hull’s Abel Hernandez. If he was playing, I would back Wolves to get a third consecutive win but a draw seems likely.
Prediction: Hull 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Result: Hull 2-3 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Leeds vs Fulham
Saturday saw both teams pick up draws against Preston and Reading respectively.
Leeds are however on fire, having dominated their first two league games under Thomas Christiansen. Saturday saw them dominate the match stats with 12 shots and 63% possession so Fulham can’t afford to lay back here given those numbers.
Another danger is Chris Wood, who scored in all of Leeds’ home games last season played on Tuesdays.
The Cottagers however have already taken a point against both Norwich and Reading, who are also expected to be in the promotion mix. That suggests that they are looking to collect at least one point per game against their main challengers this season because those draws could prove advantageous come May.
The last four meetings between these clubs finished 1-1 but Fulham have avoided defeat on their last three trips to Elland Road. With those stats in mind, a 1-1 draw here is likely but the Leeds players will be determined to get a win after Saturday’s disappointing draw.
Given the extra motivation that the home side has, I think they will secure victory here.
Prediction: Leeds 2-1 Fulham
Result: Leeds 0-0 Fulham
Reading vs Aston Villa
Aston Villa will be hoping to avoid a second straight away defeat, after being battered 3-0 at Cardiff City on Saturday.
Reading only managed a draw against Fulham on Saturday but still kept their impressive home record of 2017 intact. Their only home defeat at the Madejski Stadium came vs QPR in January.
Villa however have the upper hand, having won 10 of their last 12 league meetings with the Royals. Their away record is however dreadful with only three clean sheets in the last 20 away games across all competitions.
Heading to Reading in midweek has been a problem for several clubs in recent times and I think another defeat could be heading Villa’s way here.
Prediction: Reading 1-0 Aston Villa
Result: Reading 2-1 Aston Villa