As the New Year draws ever closer and we approach the half-way point in the 2021/22 season, now seems as good a time as anyway to take stock, and what a season it’s been so far across the three divisions.
The Sky Bet Championship, Sky Bet League One and Sky Bet League Two have been chocked full of twists and turns, surprise packages and drama aplenty, and we’re only half-way there.
Taking a deep dive into the state of play as we enter the festive period, who is topping the tables and leading the scoring charts, and how might the EFL Team of the Season look, come the end of the campaign?
Brereton does battle for the Championship Golden Boot
The Championship’s leading marksman Aleksandar Mitrovic has settled back into life in the second-tier and the Serbian is now just four strikes away from matching his 2019/20 tally, when the striker took the Golden Boot, tied with Ollie Watkins on 26 goals for the season. By the beginning of November, table toppers Fulham’s top scorer had already hit 20 for the campaign, adding two match balls to his collection.
However, this season, he faces competition from Blackburn Rovers’ Chilean sensation Ben Brereton Diaz. The Stoke-born forward, who signed for Rovers in the summer of 2018 and managed two goals in his first two seasons at Ewood Park, is hot on Mitrovic’s heels with 19 goals to his name.
It is, therefore, no surprise that the La Roja international’s form is in correlation with Blackburn flying out of the blocks this season. In fact, Blackburn’s sobering 7-0 defeat to the Cottagers acted as a catalyst for Rovers’ upturn in form, with Tony Mowbray’s side taking 19 points from a possible 21. Fulham, on the other hand, are now without a win in five, and locked in a battle to stop the rot of a downward spiral.
But that could all change as we pass the post of the half-way mark, with four points separating a top four comprising Fulham, Bournemouth, Blackburn Rovers and West Brom. With the Cherries also without a win in six and Rovers extending their five-game winning streak last time out, it’s all still to play for in the Championship.
League leaders: Fulham (45 points)
Top scorer: Aleksandar Mitrovic (22 goals)
Perfecting the art of the League One promotion
League One promotion specialists Rotherham United have already firmly set their sights on a third in five seasons and an immediate return to the Championship. Setting a new Club record unbeaten run, the Millers – the only team to have multiple inclusions in the EFL Team of the Season so far at the half-way point, powered by WhoScored ratings – are now 16 undefeated in the League heading into the festive period, boasting the best attack and defence.
Millers marksman Michael Smith has led the line for Paul Warne’s side, trumped only in the League One scorer charts by Morecambe’s in-form man Cole Stockton, whose side, by contrast, currently occupy 21st place and hoping to fight their way out of the drop zone. Nonetheless ‘Goal Stockton’, as he’s become known to the Shrimps faithful, has stolen the headlines with early entries and strong contenders for the Goal of the Season gong.
With a rift forming between ninth and 10th place, just 10 points separate ninth-placed Milton Keynes Dons and second-placed Wigan Athletic, all vying for a top six berth. Whilst the likes of Rotherham, Wycombe Wanderers and Sheffield Wednesday dusted themselves off from last campaign, Sunderland, Oxford United and Portsmouth – who have made headway on their promotion rivals, having started last month in the bottom half of the standings – are looking to end their stay in the third-tier.
League leaders: Rotherham United (47 points)
Top scorer: Cole Stockton (13 goals)
Forest Green top of the League Two tree
Sitting top of the tree at Christmas, Forest Green Rovers are now four points clear at the summit of the League Two standings. Between attacking duo Jamille Matt and Matt Stevens – tied as second joint-top scorers in the League – the pair have notched 26 goals between them and counting, and with that firepower, Forest Green are making a play for the title this season and go one better than last year.
And it seems EFL newcomers Sutton United have taken a leaf out of Forest Green’s handbook to acclimatising to League Two. Having won promotion from the National League last season, Matt Gray’s men have already made it up into the automatic promotion spots, sitting third behind Forest Green Rovers and Northampton Town. Will there be another on the cards for the South Londoners?
As for the League Two scoring charts, Newport County ace Dom Telford pretty much has that covered, and although his scoring run of eight successive League games, during which time he notched 12 goals, has come to an end, the prolific forward already has eyes on the League Two Golden Boot, having eclipsed his tally from last season.
League leaders: Forest Green Rovers (44 points)
Top scorer: Dom Telford (14 goals)
EFL Team of the Season so far: