WHEN it comes to this weekend’s action, some juicy matches really do leap off the page. Granted, there is no derby fare to salivate over. But there is plenty of other things besides for several Yorkshire sides. Here’s five weekend crackers to pore over.
1: Liverpool v Hull City.
Talk about Hull arriving at the new-look Anfield with a spring in their step...
Suddenly, Mike Phelan has a few welcome selection dilemmas to contend with following particularly the performances of David Marshall, Ryan Mason, Harry Maguire and Markus Henriksen in the smash-and-grab EFL Cup win at Stoke, with Henriksen’s late winner proving a joyous if unexpected development.
With his leading cast rested up and some real decisions to make regarding elements of his starting side, City and Phelan are in a good place ahead of the final instalment of what the Hull caretaker manager had labelled an ‘immense’ three games.
Just as well given a trip to Liverpool, who like the real deal this term. Lest we forget that Hull have never previously won at Anfield. Game tactics, management, application and aptitude will have to be spot on.
A little of fortune, like on Wednesday night, may come in handy too.
2: Rotherham United v Cardiff City.
Alan Stubbs, a dignified and respectful manager, has gone volte-face and ordered his players to show their nasty side given some welcome mat defending, particularly on the road this term. It is easy to comprehend why.
A concession of twenty league goals thus far is uniformly awful. If the traits carry on, then there is probably only one place that the Millers are heading, with Stubbs wise to issue his call.
There is no getting away from the fact that a heavy-duty pressure game between two early-season toilers at the AESSEAL New York Stadium.
Stubbs has alluded to there being tension ahead of most Championship matches. But some games are bigger than others - as this one is.
Getting over the line and winning is really the only things that matters for the Millers and Stubbs - and oodles of graft, heart and bit of fire and brimstone probably won’t go amiss tomorrow.
The sight of an in-your-face Rotherham United of old would be a welcome rewind.
3: Bolton Wanderers v Bradford City.
Let’s face it, everyone of a claret-and-amber persuasion has been waiting for this one, haven’t they..
As for as League One goes, this is as sexy as it gets, with Bradford locking horns with the man who left them in the summer for Bolton in the shape of Phil Parkinson, who presided over a medley of magic moments with the Bantams.
Now it is onto a new chapter for Parkinson and Bradford, with the game having ramifications at the top of League One, with both Roses sides off to a flier, by and large.
The winner would only pick up three points, but some victories are undeniably sweeter than your average run-of-the-mill success, as Saturday’s would be if one of the sides involved managed to prevail. Don’t read much into Stuart McCall’s and Parkinson’s refrain that this is ‘’just another game’..
The spice is certainly right. This match is as good as a derby one; such has been the interest of both sides of the Pennines, with 4,300 Bradford fans heading to the Macron.
A proper occasion and the sort that both clubs have traditionally been used to in the past and hanker for again on a consistent basis.
4: Scunthorpe United v Sheffield United.
The Blades are purring along nicely and the next test of their evolution is a trip up to M18 and M180 to a Scunthorpe side who look the part this season and currently lead League One by two points.
A big Unitedite contingent will head to Glanford Park in hope and expectation, with a noteworthy win in front of a sizeable travelling support representing the next tick in the box for Chris Wilder as the Blades chase their fifth successive league win - and aim to fire out a emphatic statement to all of their rivals at the business end of League One.
You sense that this is the perfect game at the perfect time for the buoyed Blades. Time will tell, but for Wilder and co, it will be a case of ‘bring it on.’
5: Luton Town v Doncaster Rovers.
As with the Blades, this Bedfordshire test against a side fully expected to be in the League Two shake-up when the honours are handed out in the spring represents a timely one for in-form Doncaster Rovers. After dispatching the likes of Newport and Morecambe, Rovers face a couple of the division’s big-hitters in the next week in Luton and Portsmouth, with a home game against Carlisle being sandwiched in between.
These are games for Rovers to really get their teeth into and will maybe represent a step up in terms of intensity for Darren Ferguson and his side, with due respect to Newport, Morecambe and others.
Rovers certainly cannot be accused of lacking a winning mentality, with six accrued in the last seven games in all competitions.
Although it is fair to say that we will know a bit more about Doncaster after the final whistle of the game at Fratton Park in eight days time.