We are fast approaching Christmas and the Sky Bet Championship is really taking shape. Like every other season, the Championship has already thrown up some real surprises. Here are the five things that have made it an eye-opening first half of the season.
1. Burnley leading the way
Very few people would have predicted Burnley to be in the automatic promotion places as we head into the middle of December.
Footage has now emerged of the yellow card that has led to DJ Campbell's arrest for alleged spot-fixing. The Blackburn striker was booked for this challenge on Ipswich Town's Aaron Cresswell in a game last Tuesday.
In his programme notes for Saturday's less than thrilling 0-0 draw with Reading, Blackburn Rovers' quietly impressive manager Gary Bowyer told of the outcome of his recent visit to India to meet with the club's owners, the by now notorious Venky's. The meeting was planned a number of weeks in advance, because there was an international break.
At least, the supporters of Blackburn Rovers may choose to console themselves this evening, at least the team won yesterday afternoon. For the first time since the start of last month, Rovers have three points under their belt with a one-nil win against Middlesbrough being enough to lift the team to ninth place in the Football League Championship table.
The following list shows the number of times each club in the Championship won home and away against one of their rivals during the 2012/2013 Championship season. Every single one of the 24 clubs managed to achieve this feat against at least one of their opponents during the season.
Cardiff City: Millwall, Blackburn Rovers, Leeds United, Blackpool, Birmingham City, Wolves and Sheffield Wednesday.
Blackburn striker Dudley Junior Campbell has been arrested as part of the ongoing investigation into alleged spot/match-fixing and corruption in the English Football League, his club have confirmed this morning.
"Following reports in today's national media, we can confirm that striker DJ Campbell has been arrested," Blackburn said via a statement on their official site.
Blackburn Rovers striker DJ Campbell is one of six people arrested as part of an investigation into match-fixing. The former QPR, Birmingham and Blackpool man is alleged to have deliberately picked up a yellow card during his side's game against Ipswich last Tuesday evening. His arrest is connected to a story published in The Sun [.
Liverpool is ready to sell midfielder Jay Spearing to Blackburn Rovers for a fee of £1.5m, according to the Mirror. The home-grown starlet spent last season away on loan at the Championship club Bolton Wanderers. After spending an impressive season at the Reebok Stadium, Wanderers wanted him back for a season-long loan once more, only for their offer to be dismissed by the Reds.
A photograph of what appears to be Blackburn's away shirt for the 2013-14 season has been leaked on the Internet.
After Blackburn's stunning new home shirt for next season, this one is a little bit of a letdown, but Blackburn's away shirt is still distinctive enough to stand out from the crowd and is, at least, a memorable design.
Blackburn's home kit for the 2013-14 season will be available tomorrow. The new Blackburn home shirt, designed by Nike, is one of the best Rovers shirts I've seen in years. The design of it is spectacular.
According to the club website:
"In acknowledgement of the Football League's 125th anniversary celebrations – and Rovers' status as one of the 12 founder member clubs – Nike have reverted back to the original orientation of the famous blue-and-white halves, which was the predominant form of the shirt until 1942.
Blackburn's DJ Campbell arrested in football spot-fixing probe - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Blackburn Rovers forward DJ Campbell is one of the six people arrested in connection with a football spot-fixing investigation, his club have confirmed.
On 28th November, we covered a story based on the reports of The Telegraph that said six people were arrested including a former Premier League player as a part of an ongoing investigation on suspicion of fixing English football games, but due to confidential reasons, the name wasn't published then.
Liverpool has embraced the return of Luis Suarez and the Uruguayan marked his return to the Premier League with a sensational brace that helped to cap of a very professional performance against Sunderland on Sunday afternoon.
However, it was not only the Suarez show as his strike partner in Daniel Sturridge went top of the EPL scoring charts and was the man that turned provider for both of his sidekicks strikes.
Premier League 2013-14 preview: Stoke City looking to bury ghosts of past under Hughes - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
For the first time, since their inclusion in the Premier League, Stoke City will be without their manager Tony Pulis. The club felt the need of a change and only time will tell whether the lurch in the fresh direction pays dividends or not.
Roberto Martinez's reward for guiding Wigan Athletic to FA Cup success last season was the opportunity to take over from David Moyes at Goodison Park this season. Since joining The Toffees, he's brought in the likes of Antolin Alcaraz, Arouna Kone and Joel Robles who he worked with during his time at The Latics, and he has also captured promising youngster Gerard Deulofeu on loan from Barcelona for the season.
Stoke City's Mark Hughes has a long track record as an English Premier League manager – since 2004 he's led five different EPL sides, and at four of those stops Hughes has fielded a player with ties to Major League Soccer.
The Welshman's use of MLS as a talent pool began in early 2005, when he signed D.
Finding value on futures bets in the English Premiere League isn't always an easy thing to do with the Four Usual Suspects from Mancunia and London Town almost always atop the oddsmakers lists and at prices that usually tend to yield little in return.
Besides winning every season but one since the inception of the EPL in 1992-93—the exception being Blackburn Rovers in 1994-95—these four teams—Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal—have also produced the league's leading scorer every season all the way back to 1999-2000 when Kevin Phillips (Sunderland) topped the charts.
Versatility the key to unlocking Phil Jones' first team doors at Manchester United - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
This season will prove to be a pivotal season in the career of Phil Jones for multiple reasons. The Manchester United defender's career at Old Trafford hasn't exactly been off to a flyer, despite him possessing great potential and flashes of brilliance, as his short tenure has been blighted by injuries that restricted his appearances to only 46 games.
Which clubs have been the biggest surprises at home in recent seasons? - originally posted on Soccerlens.com
Home field advantage is fairly consistent across Europe, from nation to nation and league to league. Over the past five seasons, the winning percentage of home clubs in the big four leagues is just over 47%, with away clubs winning just over 27% of matches played.
Here's the draw for the 3rd round of the 2013-14 FA Cup:
Ipswich Town v Preston North End; Derby County v Chelsea; AFC Bournemouth v Fleetwood or Burton Albion; Birmingham City v Bristol Rovers or Crawley Town; Grimsby Town v Huddersfield Town; Everton v QPR; Brighton & Hove Albion v Reading; Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur; Sunderland v Carlisle Utd; Bolton Wanderers v Blackpool; Blackburn Rovers v Manchester City; Norwich City v Fulham; Aston Villa v Sheffield Utd; Macclesfield Town v Sheffield Wednesday; Charlton Ath v Wrexham or Oxford Utd; Manchester Utd v Swansea City; Port Vale v Plymouth Argyle; Newcastle Utd v Cardiff City; Rochdale v Leeds Utd; Wigan Ath v MK Dons; Doncaster R v Stevenage; Stoke City v Leicester City; Southampton v Burnley; Middlesbrough v Hull City; West Brom v Crystal Palace; Kidderminster H v Peterborough; Nottingham Forest v West Ham; Bristol C v Watford; Southend U v Millwall; Barnsley v Hartlepool U or CoventryC; Yeovil Town v Leyton Orient; Liverpool v Oldham A or Mansfield T;
Matches will be played over the weekend of 4 and 5 January 2014.
American winger/striker Jemal Johnson has a unique story. Born in New Jersey, he grew up in Macclesfield in Cheshire and spent time with Manchester United before becoming a professional with Blackburn Rovers. A veteran of all four divisions of English professional football, Johnson moved back to the United States and currently plays with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in the NASL, US's second division.
Incoming Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis has targeted Blackburn striker Jordan Rhodes as the man who will fire the Eagles to Premier League safety. Former Stoke boss Pulis takes over at Selhurst Park today and wants to sign Rhodes in January to bolster his new side's attack. The Daily Mirror claims Pulis wants to make [.
There may not have been any Chelsea academy action last week but there was Chelsea players in action as always across many leagues out on loan so this weeks academy report is basically just a loan report.
Starting in the Premier League and Romelu Lukaku and Everton fell to their second 0 - 0 draw in 2 games this time away to Crystal Palace, it was another 90 minutes for Lukaku that will be very beneficial for him but it is goals that Lukaku will be looking for.
Phil Jones was regarded as one of the finest English defenders when he was still making his name at Blackburn Rovers. It was not surprising to see Manchester United part ways with £16.5 million for the youngster. He is turning out into an important member of the squad especially due to his versatility.
COMMENT - remember the story yesterday about former Blackburn Rovers manager Steve Kean heading to DPMM in the SLeague? Another story today by the way suggested former Arsenal, Everton etc etc striker Francis Jeffers may be heading for a trial there.
The North London based club has confirmed the signing of Nigerian centre back Semi Ajayi after the youngster's outstanding performances during several trial matches with Arsenal's Under 21 squad. The defender was formed in Charlton's youth academy and has surprised quite a few scouts in the last months.
Well this is certainly a strange one. After having spent 10 years at Charlton Athletic, 19 year old defender Semi Ajayi has signed for Arsenal. In a rather interesting move for the Gunners, who are yet to announce the signing on their official site, the former Charlton man announced the move via his Twitter account on Tuesday afternoon.
Arsenal have taken Ligue 2 midfieldermidfielder Alharbi El Jadeyaoui on trial, to give him the opportunity to catch manager Arsene Wenger's eye.
El Jadeyaoui, 26, is a Moroccan international who plays for French Ligue 2 side Angers, and has played throughout France for several clubs. In 2009, he went on trial at Blackburn Rovers, but didn't impress enough to secure a longer deal.
In the past 13 years, roughly 0.38 goals per year have been scored by goalkeepers in the Premier League. So when a goalkeeper does score, it's such a rare treat that it's something you want to embrace and watch over and over again.
Only five goalkeepers are in the folklore of Premier League keepers who have scored in England's top flight.
With injury ruling Leighton Baines out of his side's friendly against Blackburn, the left-back decided to perform a taxi service instead. The England international gave a lift to a group of Toffees who were making their way to Ewood Park. Since the fans in question were, by their own admission, a bit "bevvied" up, he [.
SINGAPORE — Former Blackburn Rovers manager Steve Kean has been named as the new head coach of Brunei DPMM FC, the club announced on their website late on Saturday. The 46-year-old Scot arrives on a one-year contract and replaces Vjeran Simunic, who had two spells (2008-09 and 2011-2013) in charge of DPMM.
For some Stoke City supporters, appointing Mark Hughes as the manager of their club could be their worst nightmare. Talks between Hughes and Stoke City are progressing to the point where the former QPR manager could be appointed by the club as early as the end of the week.
While the negativity about the possible appointment of Hughes is palatable, I believe the bloke deserves another chance.
QPR owner Tony Fernandes has today pointed the not-so-subtle finger of blame in the general direction of one Leslie Mark Hughes, blaming a raft of "questionable early signings" on the club's current malaise.
Having gained a bit of areputationfor being a tiny bit pap at dabbling in the transfer market over his years in management, we thought we'd have a look at the "top" XI of the worst deals Sparky has ever thrown other peoples' money at since first taking the reigns at Blackburn in 2004.