Only two games that came to my attention this weekend and as I’d expect neither Newcastle nor Huddersfield will lose and the top two can’t be overtaken anyway, it’s time a different angle.
Looking at the current table, it’s interesting to see that some of the most interesting statistics seem to be clustered around just a few clubs – so I thought I’d take a detailed look at them.
I was initially sceptical about Newcastle’s chances this season, but that was before I realised exactly how good they are. This is already beginning to look like a masterclass in how to win the Championship: the present side are performing at the same level as the 2009/10 team that won the title by 11 points.
United have scored in all but one of their games at St James’ Park this season and have scored three or more goals in exactly half of their home outings but it’s their away record that’s astonishing. The season opening defeat at Fulham was their only defeat so far: since then they’ve won seven of their next eight games and have kept six clean sheets. To be quite frank, it does make you wonder how they got here in the first place.
In contrast, I’ve not been surprised by Aston Villa at all. Although they’re only five points away from the playoffs, they’re currently 13 behind Brighton, which at this point in time looks insurmountable. The big problem they’ve had this season is blowing leads in four of their five draws at Villa Park and two of their five ties on the road: their only away win this season was courtesy of an injury time penalty at Reading last month. That indicates to me that although they may be tough to beat, they’re currently nowhere near good enough to go up: if they don’t win promotion, it’ll be the longest period outside the top tier since the mid Seventies.
At the bottom, Cardiff have been beaten at home more times than any other club this season, which ties in nicely with their major regression from last season. Since promotion in 2003, the Bluebirds have only lost more than five home games in a season on three occasions. The last time they were relegated from this section – at the end of 1984/85 – they lost 13 games at Ninian Park. In fact, it won’t come as any surprise that they’d also lost five home games by the end of November 1984: they’ve been better at home since Neil Warnock took over at the start of last month, but the Bluebirds still have some work to do.
Wigan are in trouble largely due to having scored the fewest goals in front of their own fans: the Latics have been shut out in five of their eight home games this season.. Will Griggs’ 88th minute winner against Wolves at the end of September is the most recent goal at the DW Stadium: there have been four and half hours of football since then. Ipswich are as bad at scoring away from home – they’ve scored four goals in eight games, half of which came at Sheffield Wednesday three weeks ago.
And then there’s Rotherham.
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, this is already an historically inept season for the Millers. They’ve lost all but one of their away fixtures this season and would have won the other one if they’d not conceded an injury time equaliser at Ipswich. Opponents have scored at least twice in all games so far. Their post-war record for goals conceded in away games was 57 in 1957/58, when they finished 18th in the old Second Division and avoided relegation by three points: the highlight of that campaign was an 8-0 defeat at West Ham in March. Additionally, they’re on course to break their own record of winning the fewest amount of points in the section since the second tier was renamed the Championship at the start of 2004/05. The Millers finished with 29 points at the end of that season: I’ve currently got them on target to finish with even fewer than that.
There’ll be a short preview of the League Cup quarter finals on Tuesday, but don’t forget that the draw for the Third Round of the FA Cup will be made on Monday 5th December.