It’s important to remember that the season is still very young – and so we should be wary of making any conclusions at this point. It’s certainly true to say that some of the teams in the top half of the table are surprises – and you may be interested in my article on teams that are set to decline on that subject.
For this one though, we are looking at the teams that may have started the season slower than they would have liked – but will be in the reckoning come the end of the season. This article is again mainly orientated to Championship fans of the big clubs.
So, now we have that out of the way – let’s get stuck into it…
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Brentford have had a tough start to the new season – and currently sit in the relegation zone. However, I’m not so sure that means they are set for a season of struggle in the Championship. There is a lot to like about this Brentford team – and I have them down as a team that will sizzle in the league this season.
The major thing that the Bees must sort out this season is their defensive record because attacking wise they certainly have potential. New signing Ollie Watkins and attacking midfielder Jota have been especially impressive. In fact, Jota has been the club’s best performer with an average rating of 7.36 and he has already provided three assists.
As mentioned in previous articles Brentford have a very good balance with both their squad size and average age. The transfer window is still open though and the club will want to ensure that they keep hold of their best talent to give themselves the best chance of a successful season. I seriously like what they are doing though and fans should not be concerned about the slow start.
Fulham haven’t started the season as well as they would have liked and are still looking for their first win of the season. The West London team also find themselves in the bottom half of the Championship table – and will be looking for a substantial improvement for the rest of the season.
The Cottagers were one of the Championship teams to watch last season – and many people were surprised to see them lose in the play-offs. I have a lot of time for the club, and fans should not be overly concerned about the slow start. There is an awful lot of quality in the squad, especially with the midfield talent that they have.
In fact, I have predicted that they will be the possession team to watch over the course of this season. Clearly, Fulham’s slow start of the season can be put down to some of their stars from last season not being at their best yet. I’m thinking here of players such as Tom Cairney, Stefan Johansen and Sone Aluko. The bottom line is that top quality talent will shine through in the end and Fulham have to hold onto that.
Reading are another one of those sides that have started the season slowly after appearing in the play-offs last season. Of course, there is a matter of debate about whether or not the Royals will be in the top six this season – but they should at least be in the top half of the table. As with Fulham, Reading fans should not be overly concerned about the slow start.
There are positives for Reading despite the slow start such as being the leading team for possession so far this season. The major problem that they have had is a lack of goals in the team – and that will be the principal concern for Jaap Stam at the moment. One of the issues in that area has been the injury problems that veteran forward Yann Kermorgant has been suffering with.
With a bit of time to go in the transfer window, it will be interesting to see if Stam enters the market for additional firepower to solve his team’s chronic lack of goals issue. There isn’t a lot else wrong, so the Royals may start flying if they can just find someone to step into the goalscoring responsibility.
4. Aston Villa
There was a lot expected from Aston Villa this season – and Steve Bruce’s team were a lot of people’s tip for the title this season. The club are also said to have the most valuable squad at Championship level, which shows the sort of quality they have at their disposal.
The club’s start to the new season has been disrupted somewhat by injuries to strikers Scott Hogan and Jonathan Kodjia – but they have had a couple of youngsters involved that have been doing well. Every successful team needs goalscorers from multiple different areas and Conor Hourihane proved he can be a goal source against Norwich City.
Villa spent a lot of money and signed a lot of players last season – and I was hoping that they would be a more settled unit this season. This summer they have added John Terry, which again demonstrates the kind of wages they are able to pay. Steve Bruce is also a highly knowledgeable Championship manager – and it would be a huge surprise if Villa aren’t a top six side this season.
5. Norwich City
Norwich City are another one of those teams that have started the season slower than they would have liked. However, that’s not entirely unexpected after a summer of big changes including a new head coach, structure and a whole host of new players. In fact, the club have been one of the most active teams in the league for the number of new signings acquired.
It was always going to take some time for Daniel Farke to get his ideas across, but there have still been some positive signs in the opening games. One of those is being the best team in the Championship for passing accuracy – and one of the best overall possession teams.
Scoring goals should also not be a major issue for the club as Nelson Oliveira looks keen to be one of the leading scorers in the Championship this season. The club’s major issue comes at the other end – but Norwich will be confident that they can improve that side as well. Overall, the Canaries should be able to secure a place in the top half of the Championship at the very least.
6. Sheffield Wednesday
Sheffield Wednesday are certainly a big club with a rich history – and they will be keen to return to the Premier League sooner rather than later. In many ways, they have been on the right lines in the last two seasons by reaching the play-offs both times. I have predicted that the play-offs will be on the cards for the Owls again this season.
There is an awful lot of quality in the squad – and the talent that they have will shine through sooner rather than later. After reaching the play-offs last season it shouldn’t come as a massive surprise that there has been a hang-over from that. The club also don’t have any major concerns in either defensive or attacking areas, so they should be able to get the balance right this season.
Wednesday have one of the bigger budgets in the Championship and that has enabled them to do certain things in the transfer market. An example of this would be the signing of striker Jordan Rhodes – and he is someone with a great goalscoring record in the Championship. The quality they have with players and their manager should see them making strides up the league table before long.
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Middlesbrough are a bit of a different case for this list because they currently find themselves in the top half of the Championship table. Therefore, you can consider them a late entry and they weren’t originally intended to be part of this list. However, we have decided to include them because they aren’t currently storming the league – despite being the Championship’s biggest spenders this summer.
Boro have been a good defensive side for some time that includes their previous time in the Championship and in the Premier League. Therefore, it has been their ability to score goals where the bigger questions have been raised. However, the club have invested heavily on their forward line and new forward Britt Assombalonga will be keen to prove that he can be the leading Championship goalscorer this season.
Leeds United performed very well in the Championship under Garry Monk last season – and Monk will be looking to do even better with Boro. I’m personally a big fan of his and he looks to play football in the right way. The fact that the club are one of the most accurate passers in the league, therefore, comes as little surprise. Overall, it would be a huge shock if Middlesbrough are not in the top six come the end of the season.
This completes the end of the content section of this article as we looked at the teams that are likely to improve in the Championship this season. So, did we get it right? Maybe you think that some of the team mentioned will face a season of struggle instead.
If you enjoy Championship content like this, then keep an eye on my profile page for all the latest updates. Next, I will be turning my attention to some of the Championship players that have been impressing so far this season.