Southampton and West Ham United brought their solid early season form into the first month of winter as fans got to grips with the battle that lies ahead for each of their clubs.
While the race for the play-off places will take countless twists and turns this season, the stragglers can immediately be identified as fans of Millwall, Burnley, Bristol City, Coventry City and Doncaster Rovers brace themselves for a year of anxiety and worry. The Championship statistics tell the story as each club realise how their expectations are being matched after 11 games so far.
Nigel Adkins table-topping Saints sit prettily clear of the rest of the league after wins over Peterborough, Coventry and Brighton saw them move onto 39 points with a vastly superior goal difference to the rest of the division. Sam Allardyce’s Hammers remain behind them in second place.
After a disappointing draw with Bristol City, they strung together back-to-back wins against Hull City and Coventry to leave themselves on 34 points. Although they have a tight grip on the automatic promotions places for the Premier League, Middlesbrough and Cardiff City occupy third and fourth places respectively in hot pursuit of the top two duo.
Further down the table are where things get more complicated as the chase for play-off berths is congested and highly competitive. Leeds City and Hull City accompany Boro and Cardiff in the play-off region, four other clubs are within a victory of catapulting themselves into at least sixth place. These teams are Blackpool, Leicester, Crystal Palace and Derby County as a majority of other clubs are still finding their feet in the dog-eat-dog division.
As previously mentioned Bristol City, Coventry and Doncaster are stuck in an almighty battle for survival in England’s second tier, with the latter two rooted firmly at the bottom with 12 points each. However many other teams also hover dangerously above the drop-zone in what will prove to be a fascinatingly tense season-long battle to retain Champions status. Portsmouth, Watford, Millwall and Burnley are all within a single loss of falling into the bottom three of the table as their form has totally deserted them so far in the season.
Although the league table begins to take shape and seem to make sense with familiar teams doing well, November has proved to be an unpredictable and bizarre month at times. Blackpool walloped Leeds 5-0 at Elland Road as the Whites capitulated in what could be a pivotal game if the race for a play-off place goes down to the wire come May.
Despite the position each team is in now, everything is still to play for as the season is just 11 games old. With another 35 games to go, anything is possible as a highly-intriguing season awaits us to be unfolded fully yet.
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