Another tumultuous weekends action in the Championship is now over and here we take our regular look at how this crazy division is shaping up in our 5 things to take away :
BLADES CONTINUE TO LOOK VERY SHARP DESPITE LOSS
One of the big success stories of the season so far has been the arrival of Sheffield United. Fresh from a course and distance League One title winning season last year, the Blades have carried on that momentum and have won 5 of their 8 league games played so far, including 4 on the bounce before Saturday’s narrow 1-0 loss at home to Norwich. Boasting one of the divisions meanest defences has helped, but their brand of high octane and energetic football has been a delight to see – and they looked set for a very enjoyable season. How far it carries them remain to be seen – but their fast upcoming Sheffield derby match against Wednesday looks to be very watchable.
SUNDERLAND FANS HAVE EVERY REASON TO FEAR THE WORST
The Championship is as unforgiving a league as you can get, and Sunderland are experiencing that in the worst way possible. 6 points gained from their first 8 league games is pretty atrocious for a club who are used to Premier League campaigns. They are now 6 games without a win and have only scored a paltry 3 goals in those games – albeit one was enough to halt a 4 game losing slide and earn them a point at Hull City. Indeed, they have picked up 5 of their 6 points away from home – only an opening day home point against Derby County to show from the four games played at the Stadium of Light. Up next is a very tough test as they welcome the charging Cardiff City, before tests at high flying Ipswich and Preston.
NORTH END CONTINUE TO FLY UNDER THE RADAR
When Preston fans saw their opening fixtures pre season, they must have felt things had already conspired against them on what was already expected to be a very tough season for them. Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds, Derby, Reading and Middlesbrough were their first five opponents, with Cardiff faced after Barnsley making it a less than magnificent seven. But North End have lost only one of those fixtures (1-0 at Derby) and Saturday’s second half blitzing of Birmingham have propelled them to fourth in the table and only two points off the top. Manager Alex Neill performed wonders at Norwich City….he is doing the same at North End now…and with Millwall, Hull and Sunderland up next, the rise of Preston may not be over just yet.
ASTON VILLA STARTING TO MAKE THEIR MOVE
Whilst they still languish in 13th position, it is noticeable that Aston Villa are now unbeaten in 5 league games (2 wins, 3 draws), and are starting to climb the table with rapidly gaining momentum. No one is taking the division by storm, and this is allowing teams who have suffered a slow start to make up ground, which is exactly what Villa are taking advantage of. Again, their upcoming schedule looks kind…a home game against Nottingham Forest before games against basement dwellers Burton Albion and Bolton Wanderers means that Villa could continue this charge before what looks a mouth watering clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux. Too early to suggest the pressure is off manager Steve Bruce, but it certainly is easing.
CANT SPELL CHAMPIONSHIP WITHOUT SPELLING CHAOS!
We have said it before and will say it again – this division is simply madness. 6 points separate Middlesbrough in 7th and Burton Albion in 19th…with only 7 points covering the top 15 teams!!! The team in the middle of the table, Norwich City in 12th, are 6 points off top spot and 7 points off the relegation zone. Derby County are the epitome of the division….losing 3-1 at Sheffield United, smashing Hull City 5-0 next up, then getting walloped 4-1 at Bristol City after leading 1-0 at half time. No one is running away with the division, whilst only Wolves remain unbeaten away from home with everyone having only played four games maximum. Expect this to continue as the season progresses. Who needs the Premier League with this level of unpredictability and excitement!!
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