Championship Overview after Week 4
The second division in English football has already completed four weeks and they are entering match day five with a couple big storylines already surrounding the league. I will be doing a quick breakdown of each team in the Championship and how this early season looks for them and whether they look like they are poised to reach promotion at the end of the season.
1. Fulham (3-1-0)
An impressive start to the season as Fulham have looked nearly perfect and that’s expected for the club with the highest team value in the league. Aleksandar Mitrovic has got off to a fantastic start as the striker has 3 goals and 1 assist in 4 league games. They have victories over Huddersfield, Millwall and Hull City with an opening day draw against Middlesbrough. As expected they have dominated in possession in every single game so far this season and they have their first big test on Saturday when they play Stoke City.
2. West Brom (3-1-0)
After an opening day draw against Bournemouth (2-2) in a real battle, West Brom have won three straight and are hoping to return back to the Premier League. They beat Luton Town 3-2 but they almost gave up a three goal lead during that game and that game was followed by a dominant 4-0 win against Sheffield United and a close 2-1 victory against Blackburn. Callum Robinson and Karlan Grant have been solid attacking options so far this season and I’ve thought Darnell Furlong has looked good to start this year.
3. Stoke City (3-1-0)
Including the 3 wins, Stoke City has also won consecutive games in the EFL Cup as the club is looking very strong to start the season. They beat Reading 3-2, Swansea 3-1 and they looked really good in their recent 1-0 victory against Nottingham Forest. Their one draw was a 0-0 contest against Birmingham in a fairly uneventful game with neither team generating a lot of scoring chances. The addition of 23 year old forward Sam Surridge from Bournemouth is so far paying off as he has a goal and an assist in four games.
4. Coventry City (3-0-1)
A pleasant surprise to start the season has been Coventry City getting results and finding themselves in fourth place at this point in the season. The small club finished 16th last season during its first season in the Championship since 2012 and they have done a good job early in the early part of the season getting three victories. They won their opening game 2-1 against Nottingham Forest in a fairly dominant game as Coventry held the possession numbers. They lost a really close 1-0 game against Barnsley in their next game despite holding a 63% possession advantage. They have now won two in a row as they beat Blackpool 1-0 and Reading 2-1. They made some smart summer transfer moves that are performing well early like Viktor Gyokeres, Ben Sheaf, Ian Maatsen and Simon Moore.
5. QPR (2-2-0)
A fairly average start to the season for QPR as the club finished 9th last season in the Championship and is hoping to reach the Premier League for the first time since 2015. They drew Millwall 1-1 and had to fight hard for a 2-2 draw against Barnsley thanks to an extra time goal by Charlie Austin. They dominated Hull City 3-0 and managed to beat Middlesbrough 3-2 despite going down a man in the 50th minute as Moses Odubajo was given the red card.
6. Cardiff City (2-2-0)
An 8th place finish last season gives Cardiff City fans hope of a possible shot at promotion heading into this season and so far they have started alright. They drew Barnsley in their opener 1-1 and then beat Blackpool 2-0 in their second game. They narrowly avoided a defeat against Peterborough as defender Aden Flint scored two late goals to earn a 2-2 draw. They beat Millwall 3-1 in their most recent game and so far I'm not entirely confident in this team but it’s way too early in the season. Kieffer Moore is still one of the more dangerous strikers in the league and captain Sean Morrison is on a mission to get Cardiff back to the Premier League.
7. Bournemouth (2-2-0)
One of the most valuable Championship clubs finished 6th last season in the league after spending the previous five seasons in the Premier League. This club is projected to finish once again in a playoff position for the league and so far they are off to a good start to achieve that goal. They drew West Brom 2-2 in a very competitive opening day fixture and then snuck by with a 2-1 victory over Nottingham Forest after David Brooks was sent off in the 60th minute. A dominant 2-0 victory over Birmingham followed and their most recent contest was a surprise 2-2 draw against Blackpool. Dominic Solanke has been terrific offensively with 3 goals and 1 assist in 4 matches while star midfielder Jefferson Lerma has yet to make an appearance this season.
8. Birmingham (2-1-1)
An 18th place finish last season in the Championship for Birmingham as the club really needs to perform stronger this season. They opened the year with a surprise 1-0 victory against Sheffield United as they were largely dominated in that game, surrendering 76% possession to their opponents. They held Stoke City to a 0-0 draw in a fairly uneventful second game of the season and they followed that up with a tough 2-0 loss against Bournemouth in a fairly one sided contest. The most recent contest against Luton Town was a coming out party for Birmingham on the season as they won 5-0 on the road with striker Scott Hogan scoring twice in that game.
9. Blackburn Rovers (2-1-1)
Blackburn used to be a Premier League regular during the nineties and the early 2000s but they haven’t been in the premier league since 2012 and have spent the last three seasons finishing in the bottom half of the Championship (15th last season). They opened the season strong with a 2-1 victory over Swansea City and followed that game up with a 1-1 draw against Millwall and a 2-1 win over Nottingham Forest. Blackburn had a tough game against West Brom in their last match as they were defeated 2-1 but the club does have some hope entering this season given these early results. Ben Brereton Diaz has 3 goals in 4 games already as the striker from Chile is in good form.
10. Huddersfield Town (2-1-1)
Huddersfield Town have struggled in consecutive seasons with an 18th place finish in the Championship in the 2019/20 season and a 20th place finish last season as the club finished six points above relegation. They drew Derby County 1-1 in the opening game of the season but were dismantled 5-1 against Fulham in their second game as they gave up three goals in the first half. They currently are on a two game winning streak with victories against Preston (1-0) and Sheffield United thanks to a 94th minute winner from Levi Colwill.
11. Luton Town (2-0-2)
They have been on the rise the past few seasons improving constantly as Luton Town went from Conference Premiership in 2014 to promotion to the Championship in 2019. After finishing 19th in the Championship during the 19/20 season they finished 12th last season and are looking to break back into the Premier League. They opened the season with a dominant 3-0 victory against Peterborough but followed that game up with a tough 3-2 loss against West Brom. Luton Town won a close 1-0 game against Barnsley despite giving up 71% possession during that game. Their most recent game was a 5-0 loss against Birmingham at home.
12. Middlesbrough (1-2-1)
The historic club has been trending downward since being relegated from the Premier League in 2017 as they have finished 17th and 10th in the past two seasons while in the Championship. The opened the season with a competitive 1-1 draw against Fulham and followed that game up with a 2-1 victory against Bristol City. Their final two games were a struggle for the club as they lost to QPR 3-2 despite QPR losingMoses Odubajo in the 50th minute as the defender got a red card. The most recent game for Middlesbrough saw the club draw 0-0 against Derby County. New addition midfielder Martin Payero hasn’t been given many opportunities yet but the 22 year old should be given more opportunities as the season progresses.
13. Barnsley (1-2-1)
Barnsley haven’t been in the Premier League since 1998 but last season they had a real opportunity as the club finished 5th in the Championship with a 23-9-14 record but they lost to Swansea City in the playoffs for promotion. The club has two draws so far this season with a 1-1 contest coming against Cardiff City and a 2-2 draw against QPR. They managed to earn a 1-0 victory against Coventry City despite being outplayed for most of the match and their only defeat was a 1-0 loss against Luton Town. The club really didn’t have a dynamic striker last season but they are hoping the additions of Aaron Leya Iseka, Obbi Oulare and Devante Cole will help Cauley Woodrow and Carlton Morris upfront this season.
14. Derby County (1-2-1)
Derby County have been in the Championship for the last 13 seasons but the club was nearly relegated last season with a 21st place finish. It was their worst finish in the Championship during the 13 year tenure as Derby County avoided relegation by one point with a 11-11-24 record while the club scored a league low 36 goals last season. They have two draws so far this season with a 1-1 contest against Huddersfield and a 0-0 draw against Middlesbrough. The club had a surprise loss against Peterborough 2-1 with two stoppage time goals by the home club while their only victory of the season was a 1-0 win against Hull City.
15. Bristol City (1-1-2)
They have six straight seasons in the Championship but they have yet to find themselves in position to push for promotion into the Premier League. They opened the season with a 1-1 draw against Blackpool but lost their next game 2-1 against Middlesbrough in a heartbreaking defeat. The clubs only victory of the season was 3-2 victory over Reading with Andreas Weimann scoring twice in the contest. In their most recent game Bristol City lost against Swansea City 1-0 and they are now finding themselves in the bottom half of the league again.
16. Swansea (1-1-2)
After competing in the Premier League for seven straight seasons, Swansea have been in the Championship for the past three seasons but they have consecutive seasons finishing in the top six but missing out on promotion because of defeats in the relegation playoffs. They were one of the best teams defensively last season but the club has two tough losses to begin the year as they lost 2-1 against Blackburn and 3-1 against Stoke City. On the positive side they held Sheffield United to a 0-0 draw and they beat Bristol City 1-0 in their most recent contest. Matt Grimes and Jamal Lowe are the two key players for this team as they hope to reach promotion into the Premier League.
17. Peterborough (1-1-2)
One of the smallest clubs in the Championship as Peterborough earned promotion last season from League 1 last season with a 2nd place finish thanks to a 26-9-11 record. They got blown out 3-0 in their opening game against Luton Town but followed that game up with a close 2-1 victory against Derby County thanks to a late winner by Siriki Dembele. They drew Cardiff City 2-2 in a game that they could have easily won as they held a 2-0 lead but gave up two goals to Aden Flint in the final 15 minutes of the game. Their most recent contest was a tough 1-0 loss against Preston. Striker Jonson Clarke-Harris is hoping to hit his stride this season as the 27 year old had 31 goals in 45 games last season and will need to be a key member of the team this season.
18. Reading (1-0-3)
This summer transfer window saw Reading transfer Michael Olise out to Crystal Palace as the 19 year old attacking midfielder scored 7 goals with 12 assists last season in 44 games. The loss of Olise, left back Omar Richards (free transfer to Bayern Munich) are massive for Reading and it hasn’t been an easy transition for the club to start the season. They have defeats this season against Stoke City (3-2), Bristol City (3-2) and Coventry City (2-1) with their only victory coming against Preston. The club still has the talent to fight for promotion and I think they will find a way to get back on track this season.
19. Hull City (1-0-3)
Recently promoted Hull City finished 1st in League 1 last season with a 27-8-11 record as the club was dominating the league with 80 goals scored while only conceding 38 all season. They opened the Championship season with a 4-1 victory against Preston but their last three games have been hard to watch with defeats against QPR, Derby County and Fulham as the club hasn’t scored a goal in any of those games while conceding a combined six. The forward core of Keane Lewis-Potter, Mallik Wilks and Josh Magennis are exciting as they combined for 50 league 1 goals last season and I expect they will begin to perform stronger as the season progresses.
20. Preston (1-0-3)
They are entering their sixth straight season in the Championship as the club have consistently performed mid-table finishing between 7th and 14th each season with a 13th place finish last season. The club opened the season on a three game losing streak as they lost against Hull City, Reading and Huddersfield. The club finally won their first game of the season last week as the beat Peterborough 1-0.
21. Millwall (0-2-2)
Millwall have been in the Championship for the past four seasons but they haven’t been in the premier league since 1990 and are hoping to earn a shot at promotion this season. They opened the season with consecutive 1-1 draws against QPR and Blackburn but followed that game up with a 2-1 loss against Fulham and a 3-1 loss against Cardiff City.
22. Blackpool (0-2-2)
Recently promoted squad Blackpool joined the Championship after spending the past four seasons in League 1. Manager Neil Critchley has been solid since taking over the club in March as he helped bring them back up to the Championship. The 42 year old was the former youth manager with Liverpool from 2013 until 2020. Blackpool have draws against Bristol City (1-1) and Bournemouth (2-2) with their two losses coming against Cardiff City and Coventry City.
23. Sheffield United (0-1-3)
What is happening at Sheffield United? The club was relegated last season from the Premier League finishing in 20th place with a 7-2-29 record and it was surprising for a club that had finished 9th in the Premier League the season prior. The club lost goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale to Arsenal but they managed to keep a lot of their key players from last season. The club has so far held strong possession advantages this season but they have lost against Birmingham, West Brom and Huddersfield. They managed to earn a 0-0 draw against Swansea but they have yet to win and they have only scored one goal so far this season.
24. Nottingham Forest (0-0-4)
They have spent the past 13 seasons in the Championship but they struggled last season finishing in 17th and they are hoping to improve this year. They have had a tough schedule to start but they lost 2-1 against Coventry City, 2-1 against Bournemouth, 2-1 against Blackburn and 1-0 against Stoke City. I think Nottingham Forest will improve on this poor start and I think they definitely have the talent to avoid relegation this season.