Its time for our regular look and review of the Championship – arguably the most competitive league in domestic and European football, with a prize at the top table of English football, and all the wealth that comes with it, there for three teams who eventually prevail.
WOLVES CHARGE SHOWS NO SIGN OF SLOWING DOWN
Its been a very impressive charge from Wolves, who have won five on the spin and nine out of their last ten Championship games to take command of the Division. Their latest success, a hard fought 0-1 win at St Andrews against West Midland rivals Birmingham City showed just why Wolves look like waltzing off with the title. An early goal from top scorer Leo Bonatini, and then holding off the Blues with relative ease – the home side not managing a shot on target in the whole game. With the exception of games against Sheffield Wednesday and Bristol City, all the upcoming fixtures look very favourable for the men from Molineux…do they already have one paw in the Premier League? It seems very likely.
BLUEBIRDS FLYING HIGH AND ON THE HUNT
Whilst the Wolves run away, flying high and keeping a beady eye on them are the Bluebirds from Cardiff, who are on a hot streak of their own (4 wins on the bounce) and whilst 4 points off top, have opened up a six point gap of their own from third place. Cardiff have only conceded one goal in those four wins and again have a set of games up to the New Year against teams all in the lower half of the table, with the exception of Preston who lie in tenth. This represents a real opportunity for the Welsh club to really make a move at the Premier League, with all the teams below them in inconsistent form and all playing each other.
CHASING TEAMS FACING CRUCIAL GAMES IN CHASE OF TOP TWO
Bristol City, Sheffield United, Aston Villa and Derby County currently occupy the Play Off places – all have been in decent form recently, but all have suffered defeats that have prevented the top two from breaking away and kept their own momentum grounded. All face important games soon that will impact the top six and determine who can realistically chase home Wolves and Cardiff, and who look destined for a Play Off place at best. Sheff Utd face Bristol City this weekend, whilst Derby host Aston Villa next week. The week after that Villa host the Blades, with shortly after that Bristol City playing Wolves. Real six pointers these games.
SUNDERLAND FINALLY GET OFF BOTTOM
The Black Cats finally got the win that eluded them for so long, as they beat Burton Albion to haul themselves from the foot of the table and to the heady heights of 23rd place. Sadly, their upturn in form didn’t last long, as they went down at home to Reading, and next face up to runaway leaders Wolves. Their schedule doesn’t make for great reading thereafter either. The only good news for Sunderland is they are not out of touch with the teams above them and plenty of teams around the bottom of the table are way out of form. Its a reach to suggest the Black Cats will purr into action and move away….but hope isn’t lost just yet.
DREAM LOOKS TO BE COMING TO AN END FOR THE BREWERS
It has been one of the most romantic and improbable stories of recent times, but Burton Albion finally look to be coming back to reality and it seems inevitable they will be relegated from the Championship this season. A plucky loss to local rivals Derby on Saturday was the story of their season….plucky….brave….but a loss. Which has been the case now for 12 of their 20 games played to date. Only 12 goals scored and the joint most conceded in the Division at 38 tells the story. The Brewers have a small but very vocal and proud set of fans who have been very realistic from a long time ago. They are hugely over achieving but shows what can be done with limited resources, talented managers and a Chairman who runs a football club properly. Should the Brewers succumb to the drop, they would still command the respect of every genuine football fan out there. But they are still in there fighting….you just sense that its a fight they will eventually lose.