Here's a look at the Championship teams that have performed best defensively so far this season
It’s always hard to make too many judgements after the first couple of games, but things are now starting to take shape in the Championship. This particular article will focus on those teams that have performed the best defensively.
Just to clarify, we are not suggesting that the teams mentioned are defensive in nature – and some of the clubs here may well have scored a fair few goals as well. In addition, we are not relying on goals conceded exclusively but also looking at things like tackles and interceptions.
The data is mainly used for the options here, but there are still several judgement calls to truly decide on the best defensive teams. Of course, this is also the position as it stands right now – and things may well change over the course of the season.
So, now that is out of the way – let’s get stuck into the options...
1. Leeds United
Leeds United are certainly an interesting club to follow in Championship terms. The Whites have a rich history as a Premier League team, but they have typically struggled in the Championship over recent years. Last season was a big breakthrough for them as they only just finished short of a play-off place.
That good work has continued this season despite various changes at the club over the summer. Currently, the club are well placed for automatic promotion – and are also enjoying one the of the best average attendance in the league.
It’s certainly not hard to identify Leeds as one of the best defensive teams in the league as they have only conceded three goals this season. More importantly, the Whites have kept four clean sheets in their last five games. Finally, the club arethe leading team fortackles per game managing 19.9 of them. If they carry on with this level of defensive quality, there is no reason why they can’t stay in promotion contention.
Wolves are another one of those curious clubs that are big in size but have typically struggled in the Championship in recent years. This summer the club have again spent big – and will certainly be looking for a return on that investment. Like Leeds, the club have started the season well – and currently, find themselves in the top six.
There has also been changes to the style of play this season – and Wolves are currently one of the leading teams for passing accuracy this season. Some people may be of the false assumption that the club haven’t been one of the better defensive teams in the league. If you just look at goals conceded – then they have leaked eight of them.
However, defensive stats build the picture far better – as they make 15 interceptions per game (the highest in the league). Wolves also rank fourth in the league for tackles where they make 19.4 per game. Therefore, you can expect the club to have one of the tightest defences in the league come the end of the season.
Preston may not be one of the bigger clubs in the Championship, but they certainly impressed a lot of people last season. Changes were made over the summer and it was unknown what sort of impact they would make. However, Alex Neil looks to be carrying on the excellent work that Simon Grayson was doing last season.
Although, Preston’s position in the top six may have surprised a lot of people – I did pick them out as a possible surprise package ahead of the season. The case for the defence shows that the club have the joint best record in the league – after conceding only three league goals so far.
Clearly, the club perform well in a number of different defensive areas such as tackling and interceptions. However, the real key to their success is limiting the chances the opposition have in the first place. Data from this season shows that the club concede just 8.9 shots per game, which is the best record in the league.
Middlesbrough were certainly seen as one of the big favourites to win the Championship ahead of the season. As mentioned in previous articles, I’m a big fan of manager Garry Monk and he may well hold the key to Boro’s success; the club have also been a major spender in the league.
Boro are currently seventh in the league but are improving quickly. The defensive side of their game is certainly looking good with only five goals conceded so far this season (that’s the third-best record in the league). In addition to that, the club have kept three clean sheets in their last four games.
In terms of those defensive stats, the club are a good all-round defensive team – but it’s limiting the chances the opposition have that’s key. Monk’s team only allow opposing teams to have 10 shots per game, which is the second-best record in the Championship. If Boro’s defence remains as good as this – then there is every chance of them being in the promotion shake-up.
5. Cardiff City
Cardiff City have been one of the surprise packages so far this season, but there are plenty of reasons to think their form will continue. As mentioned in previous articles, several players have been performing well for them – and that’s certainly a positive situation.
In terms of the defence, the Bluebirds have conceded seven goals so far this season. Cardiff have performed well in a few different defensive areas. However, in a continuation of the theme here; it’s their ability to restrict shots from the opposition that holds the key.
So far this season, the Bluebirds only allow opposing teams to have 10.4 shots per game, which is the third-best record in the league. Neil Warnock is always seen as a manager that organises a defence – and it appears that is continuing with his work at Cardiff. It’s certainly true to say that if that continues, then his club can remain in promotion contention.
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6. Sheffield United
Sheffield United are another one of those teams that have made an impressive start to the season. It will certainly be interesting to see if they can carry on their current form – and striker Billy Sharp could be a big key to that.
However, the club can’t afford to rely solely on their goalscoring star to have a successful season. The good news is that the Blades have started the season well from a defensive side of things as well.
The Blades have the fourth best defensive record in the league after conceding six goals in the Championship so far. In terms of defensive stats, the Blades don’t dominate in one particular area. However, the 13.1 interceptions per game is certainly something they can build on. Clearly, the club will be hoping to stay in play-off contention.
This completes the end of the content section for this article as we looked at the best defensive teams in the Championship so far this season. If you enjoy content like this, then keep an eye on my profile page for all the latest updates. Next, I’ll be looking at a range of different articles covering players, teams and managers.