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Sky Bet Championship: The most competitive league in the world?

30 November 2018

It’s clear that the promotion race in the Sky Bet Championship is shaping up to be as tight as ever with only six points separating League leaders Norwich City to 7th-placed Derby County after 19 games.

Round 18 of fixtures saw Dean Smith’s Aston Villa take all three points over their fierce rivals Birmingham City in the Second City derby with a 4-2 win at Villa Park, Preston North End also scored four in the Lancashire derby win against Tony Mowbray’s Blackburn Rovers.

To finish off the derby day theme, Rotherham United’s Jamie Proctor rescued a point for the Millers in the South Yorkshire affair against Sheffield United.

Round 19 saw one of the biggest score-lines of the Sky Bet Championship so far, it was Villa again who were involved this time having to share the points with Nottingham Forest in a 5-5 draw, Sheffield United got back to winning ways against Brentford at Griffin Park and Leeds United regained second place with a 1-0 win over Reading thanks to Stuart Dallas’ first goal of the season.

As entertainment goes there were 40 goals scored across the league in the last round of fixtures, if you were to compare that with the top divisions in European football you would find that the Championship’s contribution would finish top of the charts on the amount scored in those divisions.

Germany’s Bundesliga came in second with 36 goals, Spain’s La Liga scooped the bronze medal with 26 goals and the Italian Serie A division only managed to muster up 18 goals, 22 less than the Championship managed.  

Out of the teams that have played each other in the top six so far, Derby County, Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion results against each other proves the fact that the Championship is one of Europe’s most unpredictable leagues, with all three games finishing with a 4-1 score-line.

Daniel Farke’s Norwich City have more-or-less flew under the radar in the early part of season before mounting a rise from 16th to the summit of the division inside a calendar month, they have only tasted defeat once in 12 games coming against Stoke City back in October.

Most interestingly, the Canaries have lost to three teams out of the current top five in the league, but are the only side in the top six to record a win against third-placed Middlesbrough this season.

Since the opening weekend of the season, seven teams have occupied the top two spots in the Championship: Aston Villa, Brentford, Leeds United, Middlesbrough, Norwich City, Sheffield United and West Bromwich Albion.

Tony Pulis’ Middlesbrough currently sit third in the Championship and have been in the top three since the start of the season, they have scored the least goals in the current top six, scoring only 22,  but have the best defensive record in the division, conceding just 10 goals.

Two points separate Yorkshire rivals Leeds United and Sheffield United, and have both saw off the threat of current front runners Norwich City in the opening month of the season.

It is Bielsa’s side that are positioned ahead of the Blades though, but both teams have scored 32 goals in the league.

The average attendance in the Championship is also on the up when compared to recent seasons, with numbers steadily increasing since the 2014/15 season when, in October 2014 the average was 17,491 and four years later numbers are nearer 20,000.

The stats also shows that the Championship is third most viewed division by attendances, outshining the likes of La Liga, who house the current Champions League holders in Real Madrid, and Serie A, with of the Championship boasting 1.3 million and 2.3 million more fans through the gates respectively.

Down at the bottom of the division it is a very similar story to the top, six points separate 24th-placed Ipswich Town and 20th-placed Reading, with four teams on 17 points.

In comparison with the 2017/18 Sky Bet Championship season, Bolton Wanderers are currently 23rd on 17 points, four points better off than they were this time last season and find themselves one position better offer this time around.

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