EFL Saturday 3pm predictions: Vulnerable Potters seeking new broom
Assistant manager Dean Holden will take charge at Blackburn this weekend as the Potters' search for a new broom intensifies.
Two rumoured candidates in charge of rival clubs are also feeling the pinch as we predict the outcomes for some high-pressure contests in another compelling round of 3pm matches this Saturday.
Blackburn vs Stoke (Saturday, 3pm)
Stoke announced the decision to part company with O'Neill five days after their 1-0 home defeat to Sunderland, which left them 21st in the Championship table with just one win from their opening five games in the league.
The Northern Irishman had faced some flak after his side's failure to challenge for the play-offs last season and it seems that will be the minimum requirement for whoever takes over on a permanent basis.
Holden will lead them at Ewood Park against a Blackburn side that began the campaign very brightly under Jon Dahl Tomasson before back-to-back 3-0 league defeats at Reading and Sheffield United set them back.
Rovers earned a morale-boosting midweek Carabao Cup win over Bradford with a young line-up and should go much better back on home turf, where they beat QPR and West Brom earlier this season.
Stoke, winless in four, had a week off to recuperate following the home defeat to Sunderland.
The Potters' expected goals figure was better than the Black Cats' last Saturday, but they were unable to find a reply to Ross Stewart's first-half goal.
Blackburn have won both of their home Championship games this season.
Stoke have lost both of their away Championship games this term.
Potters wing-back Josh Tymon, who has created the most chances and registered the most assists for the team so far, is currently out with injury.
Stoke fan Ben Brereton-Diaz has recorded two goals from 12 shots so far this season.
The Blackburn forward hit 22 goals from 102 total shots in 2021-22.
Blackburn have been well organised under Tomasson and always carry a punch up front when Brereton-Diaz is fit and firing.
The hosts should take advantage of the uncertain situation at Stoke by taking all three points from this fixture, but it may not be by a landslide.
Stoke may have lost six of their last ten away Championship games, but the Potters scored in nine of those games, while both of Rovers' home wins in 2022-23 have been by single-goal margins.
Hull vs Coventry (Saturday, 3pm)
Mark Robins is a surprise contender for the Stoke vacancy after impressing with the job he has done at Coventry over the past two seasons.
Since gaining promotion as League One champions in 2019-20, the Sky Blues have shown steady progress with 16th and 12th-placed finishes in the table.
But, mainly because they have been forced to postpone three home games because of pitch problems, Coventry sit at the foot of the table going into this weekend.
Robins' side will be desperate to add to their solitary point gained at Sunderland on the opening weekend when they travel north to Hull.
The Tigers had made a great start to the new season until their unbeaten run came to an abrupt end with a 5-2 defeat to West Brom at the Hawthorns.
Defensively, they have some issues to solve but Shota Arveladze's side do not lack a threat going forward with summer signing Oscar Estupinian topping the Championship goal charts with four strikes already.
Estupinan, who scored 15 goals in the Portuguese Primeira Liga last season, has managed four goals in 366 minutes of Championship action so far - translating to just under one goal per 90 minutes.
Coventry have failed to keep a clean sheet in 17 of their last 18 competitive games.
Hull City have scored two goals in both of their home matches this season.
Hull's home attendances are up by an average of 4,000 fans per game on last season amid renewed optimism following their takeover earlier this year and summer squad investment.
The Tigers are likely to be roared on to victory this weekend when a Coventry side that could be rusty after recent inactivity arrive at MKM Stadium.
The Sky Blues have kept only one clean sheet in their last 16 away league games and it could be curtains for them if Hull score at least two home goals for a fifth time in their last six.
Middlesbrough vs Swansea (Saturday, 3pm)
Chris Wilder may be feeling slightly hot under the collar at Middlesbrough after an inauspicious start left them second bottom, but it would be a major surprise if the speculation around him jumping ship to Stoke turned out to be true.
Boro, who narrowly missed out on the Championship play-offs last season, are winless through their opening five games - including a match they dominated but drew 2-2 at Stoke last week.
The Riverside Stadium was a major stronghold for them last term, so Swansea will be up against it when they attempt to lift themselves out of the bottom five with a positive display on Teesside.
Russell Martin's men remain the pass masters of the division, but they have been conceding too many goals - possibly resulting from the unfortunate Joel Latibeaudiere's shoulder injury.
Joel Piroe, who scored 22 Championship goals in 2021-22, has accumulated the most shots (19) of any player in the division who is yet to score this season.
No player in the Championship has attempted more passes (482) than Swans midfielder Matt Grimes, who has a 92% completion rate and one direct goal involvement from 450 minutes of action so far.
Middlesbrough have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last eight competitive matches.
Swansea have kept a clean sheet just once across their previous 13 competitive games.
Both teams have scored in five of the previous seven meetings between these clubs and it looks set to happen again on Saturday.
Boro will be desperate to avoid making their worst start to a new campaign since 1984-85, but they have not found the right formula yet as new signings arrive all the time.
Swansea, unbeaten in their two away league games so far this season, could stun their hosts by grabbing an early goal.
Boro have conceded a joint league-high six first-half goals to date and will rely on their potent forward line of Marcus Forss, Rodrigo Muniz and Duncan Watmore to keep them in the game.