With 12 games played in the EFL Championship, approaching an important Christmas period for some clubs, we’ve predicted how the league table will look come the end of the season.
Here’s the table as it stands.
After eight years in the Premier League, with a record high 8th finish, relegated West Bromwich Albion looked to start there season off strong. A loss to Bolton Wanderers 2-1 at home, followed by a draw at Nottingham Forest three days later, the top-flight relegation hangover seemed to still be affecting the team.
After a poor start to their season, West Brom have come strong again under Darren Moore, who was named Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month for September.
With 15 goals between them, Dwight Gayle and Jay Rodriguez, have catapulted the Midlands club to second in the league. With Gayle’s performances earning him the Sky Bet Championship Player of the Month award for September.
Leeds United, under the stewardship of ‘innovative coach’, Marcelo Bielsa, seem to finally have the right balance in their team this year and if they can maintain their form, could see a return to the top-flight for the first time since 2003.
The Race for the Play-offs
That leaves Midland clubs battling it out for the biggest financial prize in world football. If modern day fairy-tales can become reality, the odds would be firmly placed on Frank Lampard and his Derby County side.
Similarly to Leeds, Derby are always there or thereabouts towards the end of the season, featuring in the play-off fixtures three out of the last five years. Lampard will look to use the momentum of knocking Manchester United out of the Carabao Cup at Old Trafford as inspiration for the rest of the season.
Aston Villa have had a poor start to the season, with former Wigan Athletic manager Steve Bruce having a cabbage thrown at him by a fan at the start of the season in protest of the clubs recent form, before ultimately losing his job.
Cabbage thrown at Steve Bruce: Aston Villa & police hunt fan https://t.co/o3r3yvyqJV
— footie fixtures (@footiefixtures) 7 October 2018
The Villains have great squad depth and have proven talent in the league such as Tammy Abraham and Jonathan Kodjia leading their attack, Abraham scoring three goals in his first six games.
The club received a much needed lift with the signing of recently successful manager, Dean Smith, from Brentford. If he transfers his success from Brentford to Villa – they will surely be pushing for the play-offs come the end of the season.
CEO, Christian Purslow on our new Head Coach 💬
— Aston Villa FC (@AVFCOfficial) 10 October 2018
North-West mid table?
Stoke City, hampered by their poor start to the season, fall short of reaching the play-off spots. Sheffield United, Norwich City and Brentford following closely behind. It will be tight towards the top end of the table but the play-off teams will see off the challenge of some big pre-season contenders for promotion.
Wigan Athletic made a phenomenal return to the Championship, the record-breaking League One champions found themselves in an automatic promotion spot towards the end of September.
📊 Some impressive figures from our record breaking team with one game to go!
— Wigan Athletic (@LaticsOfficial) 4 May 2018
However, the harsh reality of mid-week fixtures and injuries has derailed Paul Cook’s team and losing club captain, Dan Burn, in January is going to be pivotal to the Latics season.
Wigan, occupying 12th, will be closely followed by North-West rivals Blackburn Rovers. Missing out on the League One title to their Lancashire rivals by just two points – Blackburn have made a promising start to their campaign but are struggling to maintain any kind of form with midfielder, Bradley Dack – last season’s League One player of the season – their top goal scorer.
Tony Mowbray’s side should avoid relegation with him as their talisman but may struggle to hold on to their prized asset in the January transfer market, with promotion candidates, West Brom, one of several clubs interested in the 24-year-old.
Preston North End and Bolton Wanderers will also avoid relegation finishing just above the relegation zone.
The Lillywhites usually produce a good run of form towards the back end of the season. Current manager, Alex Neill, will be hoping to hit that form sooner rather than later – on the back of a 4-0 win against in-form Wigan – the murmurs of discontent still echo from Deepdale.
Reports have emerged that Preston have shortlisted potential replacements for Alex Neil. 👀🤔
— Fan Banter (@fan_banter) 9 October 2018
Meanwhile Bolton fans will be hoping the team don’t let off-the-field news affect the performances further.
Potentially faced with a points deduction and transfer embargo, Bolton’s chairman, Ken Anderson, appears to have repaid the outstanding loan and will be hoping the club can retain its status as a Championship club.
Picking up points against West Brom and Derby, Phil Parkinson’s side will rely on their home form to stay up – finishing just above the drop in 18th. Yet the club hierarchy is doing no favours in terms of atmosphere with fans questioning the high ticket prices.
So Ken Anderson is complaining about the dwindling Bolton support at game. He needs to have a long hard look at what he says. Because it’s his fault that both home & away supporters are staying away. How can you charge rovers fans £30 for a televised game.
— Macca69 (@MaclachlanWayne) October 2, 2018
As if Ken Anderson has had the audacity to complain about attendance- don’t charge £33 for a ticket in the Championship then you idiot
— Tim O’Callaghan (@Tim_OCallaghan) October 1, 2018
The Relegation scrap
Birmingham City, Milwall and Ipswich Town will have just enough to avoid relegation but it will be Rotherham, who gained promotion from the play-off final last year against Shrewsbury Town, who will fall straight back down to League One, accompanied by struggling Reading and Hull.