It was another crunch weekend of Championship football this weekend – here FantasySports.co.uk takes its regular look at the recent games and results as the most competitive league in world football heats up at both ends of the table :
NO LET UP AT THE TOP
Bristol City dropped vital points with their Friday evening loss to the improving Bolton Wanderers, but apart from that there were relatively straight forward wins for all the top clubs as the race for the Premier League hots up. Wolves crushed the fading Sheffield United 3-0 at Molineux, whilst second placed Derby County recorded the same scoreline at home to Brentford. Aston Villa also scored three at home, but had a little sweat on as Burton Albion managed two in reply. Cardiff hammered Leeds United at Elland Road, whilst Fulham continued their win streak with a home win over Nottingham Forest. It is this form that is starting to separate this group from the rest, although the battle between them is as close as ever.
AXE SWINGS AGAIN AT ELLAND ROAD
The afore mentioned loss to Cardiff City by Leeds United was too much for the club to take, who subsequently sacked manager Thomas Christiansen, with all his managerial staff getting the boot also. Christiansen signed a two year deal in June, and lead the club to a brief stint atop the table back in September, with promotion firmly in sight. But a dismal run of form since their last league win over bottom club Burton Albion coming on Boxing Day, coupled with a humiliating FA Cup exit at Division Two side Newport County was enough for the Leeds board to look for what will be their 10th manager in just over 6 seasons.
SUNDERLAND GET THE BLUES AS BIRMINGHAM CLIMB TO SAFETY CONTINUES
Birmingham City have found a real lease of life and have pulled away from the relegation zone as they notched a fine 3-1 victory over relegation rivals Sunderland at St Andrews on Saturday and their third win in five games. The win takes the Blues to the nose bleed position of 19th – but the more notable stat line to draw from is that after scoring just 13 goals in their first 25 games of the season, the Blues have scored 9 in their last 5. The result drops Hull City into the relegation zone and also pushes Barnsley closer to the dreaded bottom three.
VYDRA LEADS THE WAY FOR CHAMPIONSHIP GOLDEN BOOT
After a stuttering start with the Rams, Czech hot-shot Matej Vydra has been back to his best under Gary Rowett, and he fired his 16th goal of the season against Brentford to reclaim top spot of the scoring charts. Vydra slammed home a 90th minute penalty in Derby’s 3-0 cruise, and is now a goal clear of Sheffield United’s Leon Clarke. A host of players are on 12 for the season and share third place, including Aston Villa’s Albert Adomah, Wolves duo Bonatini and Jota, with Middlesbrough’s Britt Assombalonga there also. Derby will be hoping that Vydra can continue to fire home the goals, supported by striking partners David Nugent, Sam Winnall and new boy Cameron Jerome.
TRANSFER WINDOW CLOSES QUIETLY ON DEADLINE DAY
There was a quantity rather than quality of transfers and loans on Deadline Day, with the biggest move being the £6 million transfer of Gary Madine from Bolton to Cardiff. The only other £1m plus move on the last day of the transfer window was Leeds United capturing Tyler Roberts from West Brom for £2.5m. Highly rated striker Lewis Grabban was loaned to Aston Villa from home club Bournemouth, whilst Derby’s Chris Martin sealed a loan move to Reading for the rest of the season. It was a busy day at the City Ground as Forest completed 11 deals (6 out, 5 in) but pretty much all loan deals.
Join us next week for our next review of everything to do with the Championship and feel free to leave your comments below to share who you think will go up and down as the season draws to a close.