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Five Championship talking points from matchday four

Sports Mole looks back at this weekend's Championship action to pick out five big talking points.

Sports Mole picks out five of the biggest talking points from another entertaining and drama-filled weekend of action in the Championship.


1. Goalkeeping woes continue for Wolves

Having worked so hard to earn a starting berth at Wolverhampton Wanderers, Carl Ikeme was dropped to the bench for last week's meeting with Hull City. Kenny Jackett instead opted to bring in Arsenal loanee Emiliano Martinez, while also keeping faith with the youngster in the midweek defeat to Queens Park Rangers. That move backfired, however, as Martinez made a number of high-profile gaffes - including for Matt Phillips' winner which left him wrong footed in goal.

Jackett then opted to welcome Ikeme back into the fold for the trip to Cardiff City, but it appeared as though the returning stopper was simply trying too hard to make a point. After rushing out of his goal in attempt to collect a cross Kenwyne Jones was always going to get to first, the Trinidad & Tobago forward had the easiest of finishes into an empty net. Jackett must decide whether to twist for a third time, or even bring in a new goalkeeper altogether before the transfer window closes.

Carl Ikeme of Wolverhampton Wanderers in action during the npower Championship match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Barnsley at Molineux on August 21, 2012© Getty Images


2. Who needs Charlie Austin?

Okay, so the in-demand forward scored twice in the 4-2 win over Rotherham United - including one from the penalty spot - yet it was the performance of fellow attacker Tjaronn Chery which particularly left supporters feeling excited inside Loftus Road.

Chery had already dazzled with his impressive delivery from wide positions in previous games, but the summer signing from FC Groningen was finally able to get off the mark in terms of goals with two against a struggling Rotherham side. Austin looks unlikely to remain in West London, even if talk of a move away has gone quiet of late, yet some decent displays by Chery and Phillips leave plenty to be cheerful about from the Hoops' perspective.

Tiaronn Chery of Queens Park Rangers breaks away from Ahmed Kashi of Charlton Athletic during the Sky Bet Championship match between Charlton Athletic and Queens Park Rangers at The Valley on August 8, 2015© Getty Images


3. Kazenga LuaLua hitting all the right notes

Brighton & Hove Albion's results this season appear to have a ring to them: LuaLua scores, Brighton hold out for a narrow 1-0 win. That has happened three times now across these opening five league and cup fixtures, with the winger turning frustrating performances into something a little more consistent on the South Coast.

His latest goal, a deflected strike against Blackburn Rovers to earn a third league win of the season, helps Brighton maintain their impressive start. Only Ipswich Town can match Chris Hughton's men for early-season form, with the two due to meet next weekend ahead of the international break.

Kazenga LuaLua of Brighton celebrates after scoring the first goal of the season during the Sky Bet Championship match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Nottingham Forest at Amex Stadium on August 7, 2015© Getty Images


4. First managerial casualty of the season?

That defeat for Blackburn prolonged their weak start to the campaign, leaving them on just two points overall and down in the relegation zone. Reports emerged on Saturday night suggesting that boss Gary Bowyer had been shown the Ewood Park exit, although it should be noted that Rovers quickly shot these rumours down.

It is hard not to feel sorry for Bowyer, a man who has had to contend with star players being sold while also working under a transfer restriction. Some decent free signings and loan players have been brought in during the summer, but a slow start to things has left him under a whole load of pressure. Successive top-10 finishes seemingly count for nothing in this league, with a bad start enough to cost a manager their job.

Manager of Blackburn Rovers Gary Bowyer looks on during the Sky Bet Championship match between Blackburn Rovers and Derby County at Ewood Park on September 17, 2014© Getty Images


5. Draws galore in the second tier

Incredibly, just under half of all 45 Championship fixtures so far this season have ended as stalemates. In total, 22 games have been drawn, ensuring that - just as the unofficial tagline suggests - this really is the most difficult league in the world to predict. We have also witnessed comebacks galore in these opening few weeks, providing entertainment right until that full-time whistle is blown.

Of course, some draws are better than others - see Derby County's thrilling 1-1 tie with Birmingham City on Friday night - and if this opening month is anything to go by then we are in for another season that goes right down to the wire at both ends.

Jon Toral of Birmingham is challenged by Richard Keogh of Derby during the Sky Bet Championship match between Birmingham City and Derby County at St Andrews (stadium) on August 21, 2015© Getty Images


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General view prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Cardiff City and Arsenal at Cardiff City Stadium on November 30, 2013
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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States13141037
ChinaChina136928
JapanJapan134522
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia810725
AustraliaAustralia821020
Great BritainGreat Britain57618
Today's Olympic highlights header

Thursday's key events


ROWING
· Comeback queen and super-mum Helen Glover goes for her third Olympic gold alongside Polly Swann in the women's pair final (1.30am)
· There is also a medal on offer for GB pair Emily Craig and Imogen Grant in the lightweight women's double scull final (2.10am)

SWIMMING
· As second-fastest qualifier for the final, Team GB's James Wilby is among the medal contenders in the men's 200m breaststroke (2.44am)
· Alys Thomas takes part in the women's 200m butterfly final, although he faces a difficult task to challenge for the medals (3.28am)
· Caeleb Dressel of the USA has been touted by some as the successor to Michael Phelps, and he has the chance to notch up a fourth Olympic gold in the men's 100m freestyle final (3.37am)

RUGBY SEVENS
· After Team GB's men narrowly missed out on a medal, the women get their campaign underway against the Russian Olympic Committee (3am) and New Zealand (10.30am)

HOCKEY
· It is a Great Britain vs. Netherlands double-header, with the men up first in Pool B (4.15am)
· Most eyes will be on the women's showdown between the two nations, though, as Netherlands - the world's best team - look to gain revenge on GB for defeat in the 2016 Olympic final (11am)

CANOE SLALOM
· Mallory Franklin takes part in the women's canoe semi-final, and will hope to do enough to qualify for the final later in the day (6am-8.45am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· With Simone Biles now out of the women's all-around final, the competition has been blown wide open. Team GB twins Jessica and Jennifer Gadirova are among those taking part (11.50am-2.05pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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