Five talking points after crazy start to EFL Championship season

The Crazy World of the Championship: SEVEN points separate leaders QPR and Watford in 15TH, Preston are two points off play-offs (despite scoring only NINE goals) – and Bristol City are in mid-table with the BEST attack in the league!

  • The Championship is rightly viewed as one of the most unpredictable divisions
  • Just seven points separates league leaders QPR and Watford down in 15th place
  • Bristol City have the league’s best attack – but have the second worst defence
  • Preston have scored just nine goals in 16 games and are two points off play-offs
  • Sheffield United have seen two monarchs and two Prime Ministers since last win 

‘There’s no other league in the world where the bottom club can beat the top club on a regular basis,’ Neil Warnock once said. 

It’s a pretty apt description of the Championship. Utterly unpredictable. Totally bonkers. And about 15 teams find themselves within touching distance of the play-off spots. 

As things stand right now you’ve got Bristol City boasting the best attack and the second-worst defence in the league. They are 12th. You’ve got Preston North End mustering just nine goals in 16 games. They are only two points off the play-offs. You’ve got Blackburn joint-top having lost more than 40 per cent of their matches already. 

The 46 games played in a Championship season are usually total chaos and the start to the 2022-23 season has not deviated too far from that.

Sportsmail picks out five talking points from the season so far in England’s second tier… 

Queens Park Rangers are currently leading the Championship with 27 points after 15 games

Sheffield United have the worst form of any team across the last five league matches

ANYONE could win it – and the table proves it 

Point one on the ridiculousness of the Championship: seven points separate Queens Park Rangers in first… and Watford in 15th position.

No team has played more than 16 games so far but also nobody has won more than nine games – leaving a lot of the pack bunched together. 

And yet take Sunderland in 13th, they are just nine points clear of Huddersfield Town, who are rock bottom in 24th.

So right now it’s pretty tricky for fans to work out if they are a serious contender for promotion, nothing more than mid-table fodder or are preparing for a relegation scrap.

For seasoned viewers of the Championship, this should all come as absolutely no surprise. Not making sense is part of the league’s DNA. 

Best in attack… but second WORST in defence! 

We’d liken Bristol City to a mullet but there isn’t much of a party going on at the back.

Bizarrely, Nigel Pearson’s side are the best attack in the division – but are also the second worst defence from all 24 teams. 

Only Hull City, who have already sacked their manager, have conceded more with 29 shipped so far. 

On their travels, nobody has conceded more than Bristol City and Pearson is well aware it is hampering their promotion hopes. 

Bristol City have the most potent attack in the league but are the second worst defensively

There were signs of life on Tuesday, grinding out a 2-0 win away at West Brom, but that arrived as more of an exception to the rule. 

A 3-0 turnover at Birmingham was a particularly low point. So, it’s business up front and more of a mess at the back right now. 

Get a grip of the defensive woes and find more displays like the one at West Brom and this Bristol City side will be a force to be reckoned with.  

Sheffield United have the WORST form in the league… but are fourth 

At least Bristol City don’t have the worst form in the entire league right now.

That is reserved for Sheffield United… and yet they are still fourth in the table. The crazy world of the Championship, remember. 

The Blades last won a match on September 17 – a 2-0 win away to Preston.

Since then results read as follows: 1-1 vs Birmingham; a 1-0 home loss by QPR; a 3-1 loss at Stoke City; a 3-3 draw with Blackpool; and a 1-0 loss by Coventry.

Pressure is building on Paul Heckingbottom – even with the Blades in fourth – as things only seem to be getting worse, not better. 

They are the only team not to win in their last five games and have managed to score more than once on just one occasion.

Sheffield United have the worst form in the league and yet still find themselves in fourth spot

That 3-3 draw was totally ridiculous, too. 

Sheffield United went 2-0 up before they found themselves 3-2 down after 51 minutes. In the space of three minutes Blackpool, their opponents, were reduced to nine men with Marvin Ekpiteta and Dominic Thompson sent off. 

Oliver Norwood scored a 98th-minute equaliser and two more red cards were dished in the 11th minute of stoppage time. Oh and there was a penalty miss, a goal ruled out for offside and nine yellow cards doled out. 

The Championship – nothing like it.  

Blackburn Rovers, led by Ben Brereton Diaz (pictured), are joint-top despite losing seven matches already – 43% of their games

Seven defeats… but Blackburn are still joint-top! 

Trust Coventry, who beat Sheffield United last time out, to be second bottom with five defeats and Blackburn Rovers to be joint-top with seven defeats.

Ah, the Championship.

Interestingly, Blackburn are the only team in the league not to draw a single game.

They win or they lose. No in between. And it’s nine wins and seven defeats as it stands, level with QPR on 27 points.

Jon Dahl Tomasson’s side are spearheaded by Ben Brereton Diaz and his goals – provided they can keep hold of him beyond January – will be vital in any promotion push.

The caveat to the Coventry stat is that they have played four less games and so could go on to lose many more than Blackburn in the same spell.

But it is quite something for a team to be level with the leaders having lost more than 43 per cent of their games so far. Boom or bust at Ewood Park – but it’s working. 

Frugal Preston doing it the hard way

Preston went viral when, after 12 games, they had scored four and conceded four. 

How? That was the biggest question. 

But this is the Championship and logic doesn’t always apply. 

It is, however, undeniable how frugal this Preston attack is. 

In England’s top four divisions Preston are tied in 86th – of 92 teams – for goals scored. Factor in that many Premier League teams have played fewer matches and if anything that helps Preston’s ranking here. 

They have managed just nine goals so far from 16 matches and yet, remarkably, they are just two points off the play-offs.

Manager Ryan Lowe has made no secret that he wants to add to his attacking options sooner rather than later and given their mean defence – which is comfortably the best in the entire division – Lowe knows he has an opportunity to shoot for the stars. 

Preston North End have managed just nine goals from 16 games so far. (Pictured: Emil Riis Jakobsen scores Preston’s second goal against Norwich City)

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