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Championship: It's tight at the top!

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The leaders

A third of the way through the season and the Championship table is as tight as ever. Commonly known as one of the most competitive leagues in the world, we’re going to take a look at how the season has gone so far and how we think it could pan out from here.

Starting at the top of the league we have WEST BROM, a team who narrowly missed out on promotion when they were beaten by the eventual play-off winners Aston Villa in the semi-final last year. I think the difference this year could be the impressive appointment of experienced manager Slaven Bilic. The no-nonsense Croatian gaffer has already implemented his style of play at the Baggies and with players as talented as Matheus Pereira on loan for the season, they are sure to be right up there come the business end.

Hot on their heels

Working our way down the table just three points separates 2nd place and 11th. In second place we have PRESTON NORTH END, a team who probably weren’t expected to be where they are but are really holding their own. Alex Neil is doing a fantastic job at the club and a huge asset they have is their home form. They’ve turned Deepdale into a fortress and haven’t lost there since April in the league. PNE are free flowing attacking side who are the highest scorers in the Championship, who if they can tighten up at the back will be in with a real chance.

Moving on we have the favourites for the league LEEDS UNITED, who in complete Leeds United style somehow managed to bottle promotion last season. Under Marcelo Bielsa they again look like the best team in the league but are having a torrid time in front of goal. They have the best defensive record in the league, create countless chances every game but striker Patrick Bamford looks like he’s got his boots on the wrong foot in front goal. Eddie Nketiah could be the man to change their fortune in front of goal should he get himself into the starting XI.

Below Leeds United we have SWANSEA CITY, SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY and BRISTOL CITY. The Swans started like a house on fire but have had a dip in form over the last month or so and my personal opinion is that they are overachieving and won’t be in contention for automatic promotion come the end of the season. Wednesday are looking like a real solid unit under new gaffer Garry Monk and if they manage to keep their key players fit they should fancy themselves for the play-offs. The Robins are a side who have proven themselves difficult to beat this season, forgetting their 3-1 defeat to Leeds on the opening day they’ve lost just one league game since. Their problem is proving to be turning draws into wins. Having drawn six times already this term, just converting a couple of those would see them in top spot.

The chasing pack

Other teams who deserve a mention are FULHAM, NOTTINGHAM FOREST and BRENTFORD. The Cottagers on paper have the best team in the division bar none. Mitrovic, Cavaleiro, Knockaert, Cairney and Arter just to name a few. Just down to their individual talent alone they will be right up there this season, however their downfall could well be an inexperienced manager in Scott Parker. Nottingham Forest are massively in the mix also however have just hit a tiny dip in form recently with back to back defeats after an impressive couple of months. They could go level with Leeds, Swansea and Preston if they win their game in hand though. I don't see them challenging for automatic this season but should definitely be in the play-off mix. Moving onto Brentford, they are a team who are capable of beating any side in the Championship on their day. They play some incredible free flowing football going forward with bags of young talent however seem to struggle putting a run of form together. If they can get that right, are ones to watch this season for sure.

In the nicest possible way, teams such as QPR, CHARLTON and BIRMINGHAM I believe don’t possess the quality to seriously challenge this year. QPR & Charlton I think are overachieving so far, even though I am massively impressed by the brilliant job Lee Bowyer is doing at the Valley. Birmingham for me are way too inconsistent but aren’t a million miles away from being up there next year.