West Brom, Fulham and Leeds are the three favourites for promotion this season
Liverpool’s good begin to the Premier League season and their eight-point lead at the prime of the desk have most followers believing it’s already their title to lose – however issues couldn’t be any extra totally different in the higher echelons of the Championship.
The prime finish of the second tier of English soccer is exceptionally congested, with a number of sides only one outcome away from both gate-crashing the play-off spots or tumbling out of them.
Indeed, Liverpool have double the cushion over second-placed Manchester City in the prime flight than Championship front-runners West Brom have over Charlton in 10th.
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The tightest league in Europe?
It is the tightest state of affairs in the complete Football League and in addition extra aggressive than any of the prime 5 European leagues.
There are simply 4 factors separating the prime 10 in the Championship, in comparison with 13 in the Premier League, 9 in League One and eight in League Two.
It is tighter than La Liga, the place seven factors break up the 10 finest groups, Ligue 1, the place the distinction is 9 factors, and Serie A, the place it’s 10.
The solely prime league to get shut is the Bundesliga, the place the prime 10 have six factors separating them.
West Brom at present lead the means in the Sky Bet Championship
Is it tighter than in previous seasons?
The prime of the Championship has not been this tight after 11 video games for 5 years (since the 2014/15 marketing campaign), when Norwich led the means however had been simply 4 factors away from Brentford in 10th.
This time final season, Leeds had been at the summit with 22 factors, whereas 10th-placed Bristol City had racked up 16.
Of course, Leeds fell wanting promotion come the finish of the season and the facet that ended up profitable promotion through the play-offs – Aston Villa – had been nicely off the tempo in 13th.
Championship after 11 video games: Points hole between 1st and 10th
2014/15 four 2015/16 9 2016/17 9 2017/18 7 2018/19 6 2019/20 four
Eleven video games in, and nobody staff has managed to maintain a very agency maintain of the baton.
Leeds had been prime after the first spherical of fixtures and Sheffield Wednesday after the second, earlier than Marco Bielsa’s facet retook the lead and held it till recreation week six, when Swansea had a go.
West Brom did not attain the summit till recreation week 9 and gave it up instantly, falling again behind Swansea and Leeds earlier than returning to the prime.
As the season approaches its quarter-way mark, this Championship promotion battle is already shaping as much as be one in every of the fiercest in current reminiscence.
Premier League drop-outs battle to reassert themselves
Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic is the prime scorer in the Championship with eight targets
Fulham, Cardiff and Huddersfield all have current expertise of the Championship however have every struggled to adapt to life again in the second tier.
Huddersfield had been relegated from the Premier League in sorry trend and their horrible type continued into this season beneath Jan Siewert, who was sacked after securing only one win in 19 video games in cost at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Danny Cowley took over from the beleaguered German boss and his facet have gained two on the bounce with out conceding, however their horrible begin means they’re solely outdoors the relegation zone on objective distinction.
Cardiff have caught with Neil Warnock however have failed to drag up any bushes to date this season, regardless of romping to 90 factors and promotion final time they had been in the Championship. The Bluebirds have gained simply 4 from their first 11 video games and sit 11th, with the second-worst defensive report in the prime half.
Fulham, led by former participant Scott Parker, are faring better of the three – the west Londoners are seventh with 19 factors, helped by eight targets from the league’s prime scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic.
But they’ve struggled towards a few of their play-off rivals, crushed at residence to Nottingham Forest and solely managing some extent towards Charlton, West Brom and Sheffield Wednesday. They additionally fell to a 1-Zero defeat to Barnsley, who’re languishing only a level off the backside.
Last yr’s nearly-rans
Leeds have had a blended begin to the marketing campaign
All of the sides who reached the play-offs final season made a robust case for promotion, however glory for eventual winners Aston Villa finally consigned Leeds, West Brom and Derby to no less than yet another yr in the second tier.
Leeds, who completed third final season, made a blistering begin to the new marketing campaign with 13 factors from the opening 5 matches. But they’ve simply seven factors and two wins from the final six – together with defeats at Millwall, who had been eight video games with out a win at the time, and Charlton.
Their inconsistent begin is maybe finest summed up by the incontrovertible fact that a type of two wins got here towards leaders West Brom. The Baggies have been the most constant of the three nearly-clubs from final season and have misplaced simply as soon as, however there are indicators that previous issues stay.
Last season noticed them concede a whopping 62 targets, the most porous defensive report in the prime half of the league, and Slaven Bilic’s facet have only one clear sheet from their first 11 video games.
As for Derby, new boss Phillip Cocu has struggled to get any consistency out of his facet since taking up from Frank Lampard. The Rams have solely three league wins to their title to date and whereas his facet have solely misplaced twice, they’ve been held six occasions.
The resurgence of Swansea
Swansea have emerged as potential promotion contenders beneath Steve Cooper
It appears a very long time in the past that Brendan Rodgers had Swansea City enjoying fairly patterns in the Premier League, ditto Michael Laudrup lifting the League Cup at Wembley.
The Welsh membership had been relegated from the prime flight at the finish of the 2017/18 season and completed in mid-table in their first yr again in the Championship, nicely off the play-off locations.
But beneath Steve Cooper, who had solely managed at youth degree earlier than this season, two unlikely heroes have emerged to assist hearth the Swans into fourth place. Spanish striker Borja Baston was a club-record signing from Atletico Madrid in 2016, arriving for £15.5m, however struggled to adapt to life in the Premier League and has spent two years out on mortgage at Malaga after which Alaves.
Three years after he first arrived at the Liberty Stadium and he’s lastly making an influence, with six targets and an help to date this season.
Another somewhat-forgotten man, Andre Ayew, has additionally made headlines. He appeared destined to depart the membership completely in the summer season after a disappointing mortgage spell with Fenerbahce in Turkey, however has performed his means again into rivalry at Swansea and scored the winner in an important 2-1 win at Charlton final month.
New bosses lead the means
Nottingham Forest boss Sabri Lamouchi gained the Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month award for September
West Brom and Nottingham Forest are first and second in the desk, each with 22 factors and each led by new managers in Bilic and Sabri Lamouchi.
The pair are managing in the Championship for the first time and seem to have made an instantaneous influence, with Lamouchi being named supervisor of the month for September.
Forest will hope that is the yr that the funding from proprietor Evangelos Marinakis bears fruit, with loads of new faces having arrived in the previous few switch home windows.
Who will prevail?
So who will end in the prime two? According to Sky Bet, Leeds (four/9) and West Brom (Evens) are favourites to complete in the prime two, whereas Fulham (6/5), Swansea (10/three) and Preston (four/1) are shut behind.
Brentford could also be labouring down in 17th in the desk however they’re nonetheless fancied at 9/2 for promotion, the identical worth as Nottingham Forest, who’re at present second.
Sky Bet Championship promotion odds
West Brom (Evens)
Nottingham Forest (9/2)
Sheffield Wednesday (5/1)
Bristol City (7/1)
*all odds appropriate on October 17, 2019
Championship fixtures arising reside on Sky Sports
Fri 18: Cardiff vs Sheffield Wednesday, 7.45pm
Sat 19: Blackburn vs Huddersfield, 12.30pm
Sun 20: Wigan vs Nottingham Forest, 2pm
Tues 22: QPR vs Reading, 7.45pm, Sheffield Wednesday vs Stoke, 7.45pm
Wed 23: Huddersfield vs Middlesbrough, 7.45pm
Sat 26: Sheffield Wednesday vs Leeds, 12.30pm
Sun 27: Swansea vs Cardiff, 12pm
Mon 28: QPR vs Brentford, 7.45pm
Fri 1: Barnsley vs Bristol City, 7.45pm
Sat 2: Wigan vs Swansea, 12.30pm
Sun three: Charlton vs Preston, 12pm
Mon four: Stoke vs West Brom, 7.45pm
Sat 9: Nottingham Forest vs Derby, 12.30pm
Sun 10: Cardiff vs Bristol City, 12pm
Fri 22: Fulham vs QPR, 7.45pm
Sat 23: Charlton vs Cardiff, 12.30pm
Sun 24: Middlesbrough vs Hull, 12pm
Tues 26: Reading vs Leeds, 8pm
Wed 27: QPR vs Nottingham Forest, 7.45pm; West Brom vs Bristol City, 8pm
Fri 29: Swansea vs Fulham, 7.45pm
Sat 30: Charlton vs Sheffield Wednesday, 12.30pm
Mon 2: Preston vs West Brom, 8pm
Fri 6: Millwall vs Nottingham Forest, 7.45pm
Sat 7: Huddersfield vs Leeds, 12.30pm
Sun eight: West Brom vs Swansea, 12pm
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