Championship, The72 Championship Team of the Week Matchday 7: Manning’s midfield masterclass

The72 Championship Team of the Week Matchday 7: Manning’s midfield masterclass

Middlesbrough’s unbeaten streak came to an end on Matchday seven in the 2018/19 Sky Bet Championship season.

The Boro were defeated 1-0 at Carrow Road by Norwich City, with Teemu Pukki scoring the only goal of the match.

Leeds United are now a point clear at the top of the league standings after earning a last-gasp 1-1 draw away at Millwall.

Reading earned their first league victory of the season and moved off the bottom of the table, whilst strugglers Birmingham City were held to a 1-1 draw at the St Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium by local rivals West Bromwich Albion.

Here is who made our statistics-based Team of the Week from this weekend’s Championship action, based on’s match ratings.

Formation: 3-4-1-2

Goalkeeper: Christian Walton (Wigan Athletic) 8.42

Despite falling to a 2-0 defeat away at Griffin Park to Brentford, Wigan Athletic goalkeeper Christian Walton impressed and prevented The Latics from falling to a heavy defeat in West London.

Walton made eight saves and won an aerial duel as Wigan, who were reduced to ten men, were lucky to have only suffered a loss by two goals.

He has averaged three saves per match across his seven league appearances and is one of only seven goalkeepers to have averaged this across every weekend of the current league campaign.

The 22-year-old was in the last Team of the Week prior to the international break and has continued his run of good form.

Centre-back: Pontus Jansson (Leeds United) 8.22

Leeds were forced to defend for large parts of their 1-1 draw against Millwall, with their centre-back pairing of Pontus Jansson and Liam Cooper particularly standing out.

Jansson made 17 clearances against The Lions, only four less than the entirety of the home team.

The Swedish international centre-back also won 11 aerial duels, only bettered by his defensive colleague, Cooper and opposition striker, Steve Morrison.

He also made six tackles, only Leeds full-back, Barry Douglas, completed more.

Centre-back: Liam Cooper (Leeds United) 8.20

Like Jansson, Cooper was a brick in Leeds’ back line and won an unprecedented 15 aerial duels.

The 27-year-old also made 13 clearances individually, just eight less than the whole Millwall team.

Cooper also completed 50 passes with a completion rate of 83%, the third most accurate and joint-highest Leeds player in terms of passes made.

Leeds’ captain has let just two goals go past him in his five Championship starts this season and has proved to be key in Marcelo Bielsa’s system.

Centre-back: Tiago Ilori (Reading) 8.11

Reading defender Tiago Ilori scored The Royals’ second goal as they earned their maiden league win of the season.

Ilori’s 52nd-minute goal to put Reading 2-1 up against Preston North End came after he connected onto Sone Aluko’s low-driven cross to get his first goal for the club.

Defensively, he also impressed at Deepdale, winning eight aerial duels and making six clearances, the joint-highest in the game.

It is imperative for Reading that they use their first victory and embark on a run of positive results, which will not be easy for them, as they face trips to Brentford and West Brom in their next five matches.

Right-midfield: Matt Phillips (West Bromwich Albion) 7.94

Winger Matt Phillips scored the leveller to earn West Brom a 1-1 draw on the road against West Midlands rivals, Birmingham.

He cut in from the right and strolled past full-back, Kristian Pedersen, before beating opposition ‘keeper Lee Camp at his near post.

Phillips’ goal was his fourth in the league this season, only Brentford’s Neal Maupay and Andreas Weimann of Bristol City have netted more often.

West Brom are currently eighth in the Championship table, a point shy of the play-off places and three points behind the automatic promotion spots, gaps that they will be hoping to reduce in the coming weeks.

Centre-midfield: Ryan Manning (Rotherham United) 8.67

Rotherham United’s shock 1-0 victory over Derby County was their second consecutive 1-0 win at the AESSEAL New York Stadium in as many home matches.

Shortly after The Rams were reduced to 10 men, Rotherham were awarded a penalty for a foul on Michael Smith.

Midfielder Ryan Manning took the penalty, with his spot-kick beating goalkeeper Scott Carson and securing three points for The Millers.

Manning also made the most accurate passes out of Rotherham’s team, the most key passes in the match and the joint-highest successful aerial duels from the home side, with his goal signifying his superb individual performance.

Centre-midfield: Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa) 8.03

Mile Jedinak was Aston Villa’s star player during their 1-1 draw with Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park during Saturday evening’s Championship offering.

Despite being replaced by the man who would score Villa’s late equaliser, Conor Hourihane, Jedinak patrolled the middle of the visiting midfield comfortably.

Jedinak won six aerial duels, the second most on the pitch in Lancashire, only Villa forward, Tammy Abraham won more.

He also made three more interceptions than any other player and made the joint-second highest amount of tackles in the match during his 77-minute performance.

Left-midfield: Luke Freeman (Queens Park Rangers) 8.11

Luke Freeman starred for Queens Park Rangers during their 2-1 victory over Bolton Wanders, having a hand in both of Steven McClaren’s side’s goals.

Freeman opened the scoring midway through the opening half, sliding into the box and finishing Nahki Wells’ cross.

He then created the winning goal shortly after the hour mark, with his cross being controlled and finished off by Eberechi Eze.

All of QPR’s seven points this season have come in their past three matches and it appears that new manager McClaren has helped The Super Hoops to get their confidence back.

Attacking-midfield: Bradley Dack (Blackburn Rovers) 8.27

Ewood Park’s cherished midfielder, Bradley Dack, was the man of the match during Blackburn’s 1-1 draw with Villa.

Dack opened the scoring in the final 15 minutes after turning in Danny Graham’s effort with a clever back heel.

The 24-year-old completed four dribbles during the 1-1 draw, the most of any player on the pitch and the same amount as the whole Villa side.

He also made three key passes, a total only matched by visiting winger, Ahmed El Mohammady.

Striker: Benik Afobe (Stoke City) 7.88

Stoke City forward Benik Afobe netted twice early on for The Potters, who were held to a 2-2 draw at Hillsborough by Sheffield Wednesday.

Afobe opened the scoring in under two minutes, finishing off a great passing move that had seen him put through on goal by Mame Biram Diouf.

He got his second 20 minutes later when Tom Ince’s deflected pass set Afobe clear and he bundled the ball past Cameron Dawson.

The man currently on-loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers has four goals in five league starts this term and will be important to Gary Rowett’s side if they are to have any chance of gaining promotion at the end of the campaign.

Striker: Neal Maupay (Brentford) 8.59

Brentford forward Neal Maupay returned from his three-match ban with a brace during his side’s 2-0 victory over Wigan.

His first came midway through the first half when he finished off a sublime team move with a close-range finish into an empty net.

Maupay doubled his tally for the afternoon and Brentford’s lead shortly after the hour mark; his first effort, where he guided Yoann Barbet’s effort on target was saved by Walton, but he was quick to react and fired home the rebound.

The 22-year-old Frenchman has scored seven goals and provided three assists in just 409 minutes of Championship football this season, working out as a direct goal contribution per every 41 minutes. He is also one of only two players to have featured in more than half of the season to have averaged a match rating of higher than eight out of ten.



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