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Championship Review and Preview

There are less than three months until the end of the season and everything is still very much up for grabs. Find a club-by-club review of the season so far and a prediction for how the rest of the season will pan out.


Stephen+Dawson+Anthony+Gerrard+Huddersfield+pZ7rIUtlvuul23rd in the Championship, I can’t see them moving from here. Barnsley begun the season with a real optimism around Oakwell. Manager David Flitcroft had helped them stay clear of relegation in last day heroic’s the previous season. It took Barnsley 5 games to register the first win of their season- against Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield Town. A then torrid spell of 6 games with no wins and 1 draw saw them plummet to the bottom of the table. Shortly after this spell, Barnsley improved with a 3-2 win against Middlesborough and then three draws. This was not enough for Flitcroft however who lost his job. With the Tykes looking for somebody else to replace him, they experienced another tough run until last month former boss Danny Wilson took over. Since his introduction into the managerial hotseat, Barnsley have made sure they strengthen in the January window. This saw them introduce Emmanuel Frimpong from Arsenal. His debut however saw him result in walking down the tunnel early. His two early bookings culminated in a red card. A positive for Barnsley is Chris O’Grady’s nine goals and the fact that they do have a fresh manager. Wilson’s expertise will help guide them up but it may not be enough. Their star man so far has arguably been Jacob Mellis. Mellis is a young exciting attacking midfielder who has intelligence to add to his superb footballing technique.

Predicted finish? 23rd.

Birmingham City

Birmingham City's Lee Novak scored against Swansea City in the FA Cup fourth-round at St AndrewsBirmingham’s Championship season has been intriguing to say the least. 6 points from the drop zone is not what was expected for the blues preseason. A stuttering start saw them with only 1 win from 7 games. That win came against Yeovil away. A tough spell for them then went through into the beginning of November from the start of the season. A great run though was constructed from when November began. This was where a 10 game unbeaten run began. Goal’s however have been a struggle for Birmingham. Lee Novak and Jesse Lingard have contributed 13 goals between the two of them but they have subsequently strengthened by bringing in Federico Macheda on loan. This may potentially add and contribute to the recent goal drought.

Predicted finish? 17th.

Blackburn Rovers

blackburn1_2781204bPositive football recently at Ewood Park has raised the spirit’s of the players at Rovers. Jordan Rhodes is scoring goals for fun and 16 goals for them so far is clinical form. David Dunn has stayed by them and has helped to cement their comfortable position in the Championship. 5 points currently adrift of the play offs is a gap they are looking to close. Paul Robinson recently returned from injury to pull off an inspiring performance at home to Manchester City in an enthralling cup tip. Scott Dann has just moved to Crystal Palace on a transfer as well. This has seen Grant Hanley step his game up now as the new club captain.

Gary Bowyer’s men are looking very strong and may sneak a play off place. Jordan Rhodes’ form is vital to the success of the Lancashire side however and he may have the final say.

Predicted finish? 10th.


Blackpool_4_Basham_Bishop_AwayHardly an ideal time at the minute for the Tangerines. Ince has left to Crystal Palace on loan and his father has been sacked. They currently lie in 16th and haven’t won in their last 12 games. The start of the season looked positive as well for them with 5 wins out of the first 6 games. With Ince being the top goalscorer at the club and his tally only being 7, his departure is a sore loss for the Lancashire club. With the club needing a serious lift they need something quick or fans may fear the worst.

Predicted finish? 18th.

Bolton Wanderers

Bolton Wanderers v Blackpool - FA Cup Third RoundSix points above the relegation spots. 20th place. Hardly the ideal season Bolton fans wanted. It took 11 games for them to register their first victory of the season. Jermaine Beckford leads the goal tally with 6 to his name in the league. David N’Gog and André Moritz have also contributed. Moritz had 5 goals to add to his name, N’Gog had 3 goals before his depature to Swansea as well and Neil Danns and Alex Baptiste had 4 goals as well. A good team tally of goals however starkly contrasts to recent games. A 7-1 defeat to Reading, a 5-3 defeat to Leicester and then two more recent defeats has resulted in poor morale at the club. Dougie Freedman is looking to potentially bounce back however and earn more points to help let them climb the league.

Predicted finish? 21st.


grabbs-4-334-1176370_478x359Lewis Grabban is hot property for the Cherries, in what has proved to be a steady season so far since entering the Championship. Grabban has 11 goals in the League and the pacey striker will be looking to add to his impressive goal tally. An inspired Fa Cup run was also part of the season which recently saw them contest Liverpool at The Goldsands Stadium. Matt Ritchie has contributed with 5 goals, yet has been an impressive signing for them. Brett Pittman also has 7 goals from 28 games too. After a torrid start after being humbled 6-1 by Watford and 5-1 by Huddersfield, they have improved drastically over the course of the season.

Predicted finish? 16th.


vice-ff229-1360568_1600x900Oscar Garcia’s men sit currently just outside of the Play-Offs however they have been fantastic this season. The Gulls have seen themselves have an enjoyable season so far placing them in 7th just short of the play-offs. Striker Leanardo Ulloa is an influential character to have around, and after a lengthy spell out with an injury Brighton were keen to have him back. His return has and will prove vital over the coming months as The Gulls will attempt to succeed at what they didn’t last season and that’s claim promotion. After play-off heatbreak to Palace, Brighton are hungrier than ever to succeed and with Will Buckley, Lua-Lua and Ulloa playing well, the attacking trio at Brighton may prove lethal.

Predicted finish? 8th.


Danny-Ings-Man-UnitedA remarkable season so far the Clarets. Striker Danny Ings’ has also contributed a plethora of goals alongside Sam Vokes to fly up the league table. They currently sit second in the Championship and have had a remarkably impressive campaign so far. Ings and Vokes’ partnership has resulted in a wonderful 31 goals from 37 games for the paid of them. Burnley are pushing to provide a perfect end to such a brilliant start and subsequently end up in the Premier League however enduring a tough run for the duration of this season may prove to be difficult.

Predicted finish? 5th.

Charlton Athletic

Dale-Stephens-Charlton-Athletic-2013_3029423Charlton’s season so far has been poor, and recent form has seen them plummet into the relegation zone. Yann Kermorgant stands as their current top scorer with eight goals in all competitions but he has been sold to Bournemouth. They have however struggled this season and a lack of conviction has seen them subsequently suffer. Simon Church claims six goals as well for them which offers positiveness for Charlton. They currently remain in the FA Cup with a tie against Sheffield Wednesday to be played with a place in the quarter final at stake. With 5 wins all season and 14 losses as well as 9 draws it does not look very positive for them as they slip further down the league. Milwall will be looking to extend the gap on Charlton as well with their cup involvement so the fans may fear the worse.

Chris Powell will be looking to change confidence and get some form  going or it may be too late for them.

Predicted finish? 22nd.

Derby County

DEIH20140210A-006_C.JPG  Picture: Ian Hodgkinson Derby County V QPR John Eustace GoalDerby had a slow start to the season but under the leadership of Steve McClaren they have flourished. From the day McClaren joined, Derby went 14 games with 10 wins and just one loss in this remarkable run of form. Striker Chris Martin has enjoyed successful and fantastic form this season with 17 goals from 34 games averaging a goal every other game. 18 year old star Will Hughes has attracted high interest as well due to the highly sought youngsters sheer quality on the ball. He has been very influential as well as has recent loanee signing Patrick Bamford. Bamford who enjoyed the first half of the season at MK Dons now is at Derby and has four goals in his last six for the Rams. Derby may be very strong promotion contenders in the race for Premier League status.

Predicted finish? 2nd

Doncaster Rovers

1742006970Donny have had  a steady season since promotion from League One with 7 wins, 8 draws and 15 losses. Striker’s Theo Robinson and Chris Brown have contributed with 11 between them for a side who have enjoyed a stable time since promotion. The Loanee of Federico Macheda in the earlier stages of the season proved to be a good one as he had enjoyed a good run of form at Rovers. They are looking to comfotably beat the drop and manager Paul Dickov has the expertise and intelligence on how to manage and stabilize the club to maximum potential. The recent inclusion of Billy Sharp on loan from Southampton may be a pivotal one in securing a place in the Championship next season for Doncaster.

Prediction? 19th.

Huddersfield Town

Birmingham City v Huddersfield Town - Sky Bet ChampionshipThe Terrier’s sit in 13th, seven points adrift of the play-offs and may be seen as optimistic outsiders. The additions of Nahki Wells and Joe Lolley add more firepower to the attack alongside the already dangerous James Vaughan. Huddersfield have slipped in recent weeks and suffered a poor run of form since the start of the New Year losing five games and winning three. This run included a 5-1 demolition at the hands of their West Yorkshire rivals Leeds United where Ross McCormack fired a hat-trick past them. The start to the season showed more promise with only two defeats in 10 games for them. Wells and Vaughan will be expected to form a formidable partnership and if they do so, a subsequent result could well be a late play-off charge?

Predicted finish? 12th.

Ipswich Town

_71018438_ipswichvblackpoolempicsMick McCarthy’s side have launched a real attack on the league this week as they attempt to make the play-offs. David McGoldrick has been remarkably impressive for them netting 14 times in the goal to stand alone as the clubs top scorer. They have won 11 all season, drawn 12 and only lost eight boasting an impressive record. Their form has recently fluctuated and has seen them win two, draw four and lose two since the turn of the New Year. With such solidarity in the squad and McCarthy’s previous managerial expertise they may be the surprise promotion package.

Predicted finish? 7th.

Leeds United

Leeds United's Ross McCormack scored the equalising goal in the Championship at Huish ParkRoss McCormack has been a revelation for Leeds this season as the clubs top scorer with 22 goals to his name. Leeds have a fairly equal record as well with 12 wins and losses and then six draws on top. The recent additions of Jimmy Kebe and Cameron Stewart were welcomed with fondness from the fans however recent weeks which have been tough. There has been real financial uncertainty with the consortium GFH Capital selling 75% shares to Massimo Cellino’s company. This saw a remarkable week where Brian McDermott was sacked and reinstated as well as a winding up order from their shirt sponsors Enterprise and a game where Gianluca Festa sat on the bench for a game. Leeds are looking to push for the play-off’s but with uncertainty and drama it may be tough to keep matters consistent on the pitch. A recent win against rivals Huddersfield 5-1 was a high point and Leeds are looking to kick on.

Predicted finish? 13th.

Leicester City

_70867502_leicester1The Foxes sit top of the Championship and have enjoyed a remarkable season. They have been very strong and impressive. David Nugent and Jamie Vardy have lead the line for the Foxes. Nugent’s 15 league goal has really benefited them however. Nigel Pearson’s men are aware of what they require to do, however a promotion for them is almost inevitable. Such strong squad depth with players like Kevin Phillips, Kasper  Schmeichel and Danny Drinkwater offering brilliant form at the minute is what is helping the clubs promotion push. Liam Moore has been somewhat of a revelation for Leicester as well. Moore has been the subject of interest from several Premier League clubs and its not a surprise given the young stars rich run of form.

Its important however that money isn’t a distraction and the Foxes’ push on for glory. If they keep going; they may just be impossible to stop.

Predicted finish? Champions, 1st.


article-0-18FC8E1E00000578-800_634x485Aitor Karanka’s side have been in recent poor form however they had been through an exhilarating run previous to recent weeks. This run saw five wins out of six games with the other being a draw including a 3-0 win against Reading. They had been through a stage of three 0-0 draws in the past few weeks however this came to a close against Watford yesterday where they lost 1-0. Shay Given has been an influential signing in net this season for Boro and Albert Adomah has been very important as he stays as the clubs top scorer with 9 goals. Mustapha Carayol has also been an important player with 7 goals himself for the club. Marvin Emnes recently has departed to Swansea leaving them void of some attacking options but they will be looking to keep the season at a stable rate as they have impressed so far since Mowbray’s departure.

Predicted finish? 14th.


millwall-4-x-3201-1159979_478x359They sit 21st in the Championship and with the managerial brilliance of Ian Holloway they are strong candidates to escape relegation and make mid table. They have only lost two from their last six, starkly contrasting in comparison to the poor form exhibited by the side under the leadership of Steve Lomas. Woolford and Morrison share top goalscoring duties joint at five each in the league but Woolford is slightly ahead with two more in other competitions. Millwall are expected to stay up but if they recapture the form at the start of this season soon then they may be in serious danger.

Predicted finish? 20th.

Nottingham Forest

spt_ai_leicester_nottmforest_17.jpgForest have been flying recently with Andy Reid and Simon Cox sharing the top scoring duties with eight goals each in the league, Darius Henderson and Henri Lansbury are just behind them with seven goals in the league each. They currently sit in fifth in Championship with only four losses this season. They have 14 wins as well as 12 draws this campaign as well as a nice goal difference of +17. They haven’t lost a game in all competitions since the third of December and this included a 5-0 demolition of West Ham in a cup run.  They may be in my opinion the play-off winners with such good form.

Predicted finish? 3rd, Play-Off Winners.


Queens Park Rangers v Charlton Athletic - Sky Bet ChampionshipQPR have enjoyed a strong season where they currently sit high in the league fluctuating between the automatics and play off spots. Charlie Austin has provided the key to their success with a plethora of goals, 14 to be exact in the league and is hungry for more. Kevin Doyle and Mobido Maiga have also joined on loan to help increase Harry Redknapp’s striking options. They have only lost five this season in the league , won 16 and drawn eight which is promotion form for certain. It took them 12 games into the season to lose but now they are again on more rampant form and may hopefully push on to gain promotion back to the Prem.

Predicted finish? 4th.


Reading-FC-v-Doncaster-2-6223467Reading are enjoying a solid season and are currently in 6th place. They just enjoyed a victory over QPR but in recent weeks this Reading side has been scoring goals left right and centre. This run saw a 7-1 win against Bolton, a 5-1 win against Blackpool and a 3-0 win against Milwall. The royals however were humbled for six earlier in the season by League One Peterborough. Adam Le Fondre leads the charts of Goals with 13 to his name and his parnter Pogrebnyak has a cool 9 as well. Le Fondre enjoyed two hat-tricks in the 7-1 and 5-1 victories as well. If Reading keep this form going, they may be strong contenders for an immediate return to the big time.

Predicted finish? 6th

Sheffield Wednesday 

sheffield-wednesdayStuart Gray has totally transformed Wednesday’s fortunes. He has rejuvenated and Galvanized the squad to start a fantastic run of form of late. The manager who took over after Dave Jones’ departure has seen his side take a remarkable turn of form. This has seen them earn a 6-0 win against Leeds, a 1-0 win over other Yorkshire rivals Barnsley and a recent victory over Reading. A key for Wednesday will most certainly be maintaining the confidence they have earned recently. I believe they have full capabilites to challenge for a strong mid-table finish.

Predicted finish? 15th.


Lewis+Mcgugan+Watford+v+Millwall+fr0rLifvMhGlAfter the departure of Gianfranco Zola, Watford struggled for a short period of time but now look as solid as ever. The Hornets went on a nine game winless streak until his departure however under the new influence of Giuseppe Sannino they look to have strengthened in previously weaker area’s.  Troy Deeney’s 13 goals have been a key feature for Watford this season and he almost inspired them to make a breathtaking victory at the Etihad where they lead. Sadly Man City went on to win the game but an impressive Watford side made them work. Other key players such as Forestieri and Gabi Angella will be key in a play-off push but this side look to already be settle at Mid-Table.

Predicted finish? 9th.

Wigan Athletic

Wigan's Jean BeausejourUwe Rosler has steadied Wigan and helped to transform them into a very solid side, capable of pushing for the play-offs. They currently are still involved in the FA Cup in the quarter finals with a tie against Man City to come up, the team who knocked them out of the Capital One Cup. Nick Powell sits as the clubs current top scorer and has double the amount of goals in all competitions than he does in the league. He currently has five league goals. Marc-Antoine Fortune and Jordi Gomez also have four goals each but the club will need to score more to stand a chance of the top 6 or even a return to the Premier League.

Predicted finish? 11th.

Yeovil Town

yeovil-blackpool-446643Gary Johnson’s men were not expected to perform wonders or make miracles, but their season has had its brilliant moments already. Their first season in the Championship was bound to be one of stability and although they sit bottom of the league, they have impressed a few. The signing of Ishmael Miller has proved to be a key one as he has contributed with 5 goals as a loanee. Some high points of the season were the clubs 3-0 away win against Watford at Vicarage road as well as a 3-1 win against a strong Nottingham Forest side. The overall picture does look bleak for the club however with only 5 wins all season however the fans are determined to make the most of this season and who knows, maybe they may escape the almost inevitable drop.

Predicted finish? 24th. 

Predicted Final Table

Position Team
1 Leicester City
2 Derby County
3 Nottingham Forest
4 Queens Park Rangers
5 Burnley
6 Reading
7 Ipswich Town
8 Brighton & Hove Albion
9 Watford
10 Blackburn Rovers
11 Wigan Athletic
12 Huddersfield Town
13 Middlesbrough
14 Leeds United
15 Sheffield Wednesday
16 AFC Bournemouth
17 Birmingham City
18 Blackpool
19 Doncaster Rovers
20 Millwall
21 Bolton Wanderers
22 Charlton Athletic
23 Barnsley
24 Yeovil
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