Friday, March 6
Sky Bet Championship
Nottingham Forest v Millwall – The City Ground
Gary Rowett will be looking for more consistency for his side when they travel to the City Ground on Friday evening.
The Lions boss offered an honest assessment following Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Bristol City at The Den and was clearly unhappy with the way his side started the game
“It’s hard for me to look at that positively,” he told BBC Sport.
“The first twenty minutes of the game we didn’t do anywhere near enough to grab the opportunity to close the gap.
“You’ve got to put a big performance in, from the start, but it was a really tepid opening twenty minutes and we gave them opportunities to counter-attack.
“From then on, we dominated the game and we’ve had 13 shots to their three, so it was clear to see which side had more attacking intent.
“We put them under the cosh, made it uncomfortable for them and a fair result would have been us winning the game.”
Millwall now face a Nottingham Forest side keen to secure a play-off berth following a run of three draws and a win from their last four league outings.
Saturday, March 7
Arsenal v West Ham United – Emirates Stadium
Michel Arteta is mindful his improving Gunners could face a tough test against relegation-threatened West Ham. And the Gunners chief recognised the job David Moyes is doing at their capital rivals.
“They caused a lot of problems for big teams. I worked with David for seven years and I know how structured he will be,” the Spaniard explained.
“The thing I admire the most is how he treated people and builds a culture at the club. I spoke with him a few times. He’s always been really supportive.”
Crystal Palace v Watford – Selhurst Park
Roy Hodgson and Nigel Pearson were delighted to oversee huge Premier League victories last weekend.
Palace recorded a single-goal success at bitter rivals, Brighton, while Pearson’s Watford produced a stunning performance to derail Liverpool’s unbeaten sequence this season.
And with both clubs eyeing up a scramble away from the relegation zone, it was clear both bosses believed their respective sides were in a good place ahead of their meeting at Selhurst Park this weekend.
“I’m very proud,” Hodgson told BBC Sport after Palace’s win at the Amex Stadium.
“Both teams were totally aware of how important this game is.
“It was a hard-fought derby. Both teams will feel they did everything they could possibly do. We knew we’d have to dig in and fight plenty of battles out there.
“It’s a remarkable victory because this is a fixture where we haven’t done so well in recent years, and it’s nice to break that hoodoo.
“It’s good to get back-to-back wins and we’ve got two important games coming up [at home to Watford then away at Bournemouth]. If they go well, we can kiss relegation goodbye.”
Naturally, Pearson waxed lyrical over the Hornets resounding 3-0 success over the Reds: “It’s such an important win for us,” he explained to BBC Sport.
“But it is one win. Our season has been tough so far, with losing last week and not playing well, we were keen to get a response.
“They are such an outstanding side, we had to get our performance right – as close to max as possible – and I thought we thoroughly deserved the win. We threatened with the ball and defended with discipline, energy and commitment. That’s been the message from day one.
“It’s in our own hands, and we have to deliver that performance week in, week out.”
Meanwhile, resurgent Hammers frontman, Sebastien Haller thinks the feelgood factor returned to the club following last weekend’s win over Southampton
“It was a big win, a massive win, but it’s not the last game,” he told www.whufc.com.
“We have a lot of matches remaining and we need to keep going to reach our goals.
“I’m feeling good and we want to be successful for our fans – I just want to continue playing well for them.
“It was fun to play in Saturday’s game. We are a great team when we are playing well and we can create a lot.
“We are in a good moment and I am absolutely convinced that we can get a result at Arsenal.”
Burnley v Tottenham Hotspur – Turf Moor
Jose Mourinho takes his out of sorts Spurs side to Turf Moor, desperately looking for a return to form following their recent winless sequence.
Spurs have lost ground in the race for the top four as well as seen their FA Cup and Champions League hope hit. Nevertheless, the North Londoners boss backed his charges following their midweek cup exit at the hands of Norwich City.
“I think we deserved to win on 90 minutes and on 120,” he told www.tottenhamhotspur.com.
“I’m so sad for the boys but I don’t criticise, I just can’t.
“The boys, they gave what they have and what they don’t have. Some reached the limit, like Lucas, like Berwijn, they reached the limit and they told me ‘one more minute and I am in big, big trouble’. Some of the others stayed and stayed until their limits, when I look, for example, to Giovani Lo Celso, a performance I feel was absolutely incredible.”
Sky Bet Championship
Bristol City v Fulham – Ashton Gate
Fulham head to Bristol City off the back of an impressive performance culminating in a 2-0 success over Preston at Craven Cottage.
“It is always important for us to win matches and we always go into every game expecting to win,” boss, Scott Parker, told BBC Sport.
“Of course, West Brom and Leeds have been the most consistent and they are two very good teams.
“We have them both to play but we have to concentrate first on Bristol City next week and the games that follow that and see what we can do.”
Brentford v Sheffield Wednesday – Griffin Park
Brentford picked up a useful point at Cardiff City last week and will now be keen to add three more points to their play-off push when inconsistent Sheffield Wednesday visit Griffin Park.
Speaking to BBC Sport after the stalemate in the Welsh capital, Bees Head Coach, Thomas Frank, said: “I am pleased with the attitude of my players. Coming to Cardiff – they have lost twice at home – we know it is a very difficult ground to go to.
“We totally dominate the game from the first second and on 25 minutes we are up 2-0. They don’t have a chance, then they score a very good goal. Then it gets back and forth.
“Cardiff equalised on a long throw where we need to do better. Second-half, credit to the boys they went out and dominated again.
“In the middle of the second half it went back and forth again, both teams had chances, then we got on top again. Overall I am satisfied with our performance.”
Charlton Athletic v Middlesbrough – The Valley
Lee Bowyer insisted last weekends damaging 4-0 defeat at Huddersfield Town should be a wake-up call for his Charlton side.
“I’d like to think (this defeat) gives (my players) a kick up the backside,” he told BBC Sport.
It should do if they’ve got any pride that will hurt. And I’m sure it does because it hurts me.
“Believe it or not I’m already looking forward to next weekend because the group of players I’ve got are honest.
“That will be hurting them today. I’m looking forward to the reaction I get.”
Former midfielder, Bowyer, will demand a response from the ‘Addicks, who slipped within a point of the dropzone following that particular setback, against a Middlesbrough side managed by his former Leeds teammate, Jonathan Woodgate, and who have serious relegation worries of their own.
Preston North End v Queens Park Rangers – Deepdale
QPR’s unbeaten sequence will come under further scrutiny when they take on play-off hopefuls, Preston, at Deepdale.
The R’s drew 2-2 with in-form Birmingham City last time out – boss, Mark Warburton, critical over his sides defending.
“We didn’t attack the ball well enough and we were sloppy and paid the price,” he told BBC Sport.
“The first goal was a soft one to give away and the second was a soft set-piece and then we didn’t defend it well.
“We dropped two points. We were 2-1 up, controlling the game and had big chances. We went 1-0 down and needed to change the tempo.
“We did that and got two quick goals but Ithink we should have had three or four and we didn’t take the chances.”
Host’s, Preston, went down at Fulham a week ago and have lost three of their last four. Nevertheless, they remain in the final play-off spot, two points ahead of Bristol City.
Sky Bet League One
AFC Wimbledon v Bolton Wanderers – Kingsmeadow Stadium
Wimbledon can all but secure their League One status with a victory over bottom of the table Bolton on Saturday.
The South Londoners impressively ended Gillingham’s fifteen-match unbeaten run at the Priestfield Stadium last week, lifting themselves eight points clear of the dropzone, much to the delight of boss, Glyn Hodges.
“It has been a difficult February, but we have picked up some points and this was a big win to finish the month off,” the former welsh international told www.afcwimbledon.co.uk.
“It sets us up nicely for March.
“It was absolutely brilliant. I felt hard done by when they got the equaliser because we had defended great. I think Joe actually had the ball for their equaliser, but he slipped, so the pitch didn’t help us there, but to concede that goal and actually come again to get the winner, I felt we deserved it.”
Bolton ended a run of five successive defeats with a goalless encounter with Accrington. Along with Southend United, they already look set to be relegated following a difficult campaign.
Sky Bet League Two
Leyton Orient v Cambridge United – Breyer Group Stadium
Orient and Cambridge meet in the M11 derby, both keen to build on their recent upturn in fortunes.
The O’s have lost just one of their last five, while Cambridge – despite slipping up against Carlisle last week – but had strung together an unbeaten run of five matches prior to that, carrying them comfortably into midtable.
Sunday, March 8
Chelsea v Everton – Stamford Bridge
Chelsea will be looking to extend an unbeaten home sequence of twenty-four matches – stretching back to December 1994 – over visitors Everton on Sunday.
The Blues have won thirteen of those matches and they will undoubtedly be buoyed further following a superb performance which saw league leaders Liverpool dispatched from the Emirates FA Cup at the fifth-round stage.