This week’s round-up starts with a brief caveat.
As I said last week, the Christmas calendar is packed with EFL Championship fixtures—everywhere you look, there’s a season-defining clash to keep you entertained and enticed.
With this winter bonanza in mind, then, it seems difficult to keep on top of the shifting landscape that this Championship is soon to become, and thus any attempt to define what we’ve learned is better left to the time when the bigger picture can be unfurled before us.
As such, this week, we won’t have a ‘five things we’ve learned’ section, but never fear—after New Year arrives, we’ll have a bumper pack to consider the many things that have happened in the Championship this season as we head into the blank slate of 2018.
Here’s what happened this week…
The winners and losers
Friday night saw Wolves travel to Sheffield Wednesday, in what could potentially be a tough stumbling block of a fixture for the champions elect.
Ex-Porto wonderkid Ruben Neves scored the only goal of the match to give the men from Molineux the win, while Morgan Fox’s red card piled on the misery for the home side.
It’s now four wins in five for Wolves, who maintain their four-point lead at the top of the table.
On Saturday, there were a number of extremely important fixtures at the foot of the table.
Birmingham City lost 2-1 at home against QPR to drop to the bottom of the Championship. The Blues have now lost four of their last five.
Burton Albion, on the other hand, grabbed their six pointer by the scruff of the neck, beating Bolton Wanderers 1-0. Sunderland, too, advanced the process of pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, by winning 1-0 at home against Fulham.
Elsewhere, there were wins for Bristol City against Nottingham Forest (2-1), Derby County against Aston Villa (2-0), Ipswich Town against Reading (2-0), Leeds United against Norwich City (1-0), Millwall against Middlesbrough (2-1), Preston North End against Sheffield United (1-0), and Cardiff City against Hull City (1-0). If only the Super Six encompassed the Championship.
If that list seems long, that’s because it is—there was only one draw on Saturday, coming at Griffin Park, as Barnsley, soon to be invigorated by their incoming Chinese billionaire owners, held Brentford 0-0.
Undeniably, it was a day for goalkeepers—that’s 8 clean sheets in total up and down the country.
With Sunday’s television time reserved for Manchester United’s away tie against West Brom, and Liverpool’s 4-0 thrashing of Bournemouth, the Championship did not get a look in. The price for a plethora of Saturday fixtures is always a dearth of any matches on a Sunday.
This may all have seemed somewhat diluted, but this is only because Christmas is a time for plenteousness, and with fixtures coming thick and fast, it seems better to analyse the battle on the other side rather than during its foggy skirmishes.
Our next round-up will occur after the final whistle of the games on the 2nd of January, and will include not five things we’ve learned, but ten, as a review of the season so far.
Alongside this round-up and mini-review, too, will be a prospection of how I expect the season to progress. New Year’s resolutions shall be done away with, in favour of New Year’s predictions.
Until then, enjoy the rest of the holidays’ football, have a merry Christmas, and a very happy New Year.
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