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EFL Championship: 4 promising starlets to keep an eye on including on-loan Leeds prodigy

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2019-20 EFL Championship: 4 starlets to keep an eye on

Even since its infancy, the EFL Championship has been a breeding ground for some of the top young talents in English football and one would expect that trend to continue this season as well, with several starlets already laying down an early marker in the opening month of the campaign.

Looking at things in the recent past, success in the Championship has proven to be a short-cut route for promising youngsters to earn a coveted move to the Premier League, with Neal Maupay, Oliver McBurnie, Daniel James, Lloyd Kelly and Harry Wilson amongst those this summer to have followed the footsteps of Lewis Cook, David Brooks and James Maddison to the top-flight. 

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The decent level of competition and the presence of some high-profile managers coupled with the diversity of teams vying for their respective goals make the EFL Championship a solid platform for the youngsters to showcase their talent. 

With that in mind, let us run the rule over 4 starlets who could take the 2019-20 EFL Championship by storm:

1. Eddie Nketiah (Leeds United)

The highly-rated Arsenal academy graduate has already demonstrated his goalscoring prowess this term following his move to Leeds United on a season-long loan deal earlier in the summer. 

Apparently brought in with a view to filling in the boots of Kemar Roofe,  the England U-21 international has enjoyed a stellar start to the campaign, with the Lewisham-born sharp-shooter finding the net thrice for the West Yorkshire giants thus far.

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Nketiah, who scored in the Premier League for the Gunners last season, is yet to start a game in the Championship under Marcelo Bielsa but his winner in the 1-0 victory over Brentford is surely a promise of better things to come. 

Indeed, a successful loan stint at Elland Road would do a world of good to his chances of challenging for a more significant role at the Emirates next term. 

2. Nathan Ferguson (West Brom)

Talk about a breakout star in the Championship and you would definitely find it hard to ignore Nathan Ferguson, who has successfully made the jump from the academy ranks to the senior side at West Brom this season. 

The 18-year-old was hardly in the first-team picture before the start of the season and Slaven Bilic’s decision to hand him a start against Nottingham Forest on the opening day of the Championship would have raised plenty of eyebrows.

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However, the teenager silenced his critics with a superb all-round display at the City Ground, while also claiming an assist. 

Ferguson’s consistent run of form in August forced Bilic to keep new signing Darnell Furlong on the bench, although the former QPR man came through the door as a more established right-back at the Championship level.

Max Aarons (Norwich City) and Jayden Bogle (Derby County) enjoyed successful breakthrough seasons in the Championship last season and Nathan Ferguson might be the next in the queue to grab the headlines in the days to come.

3. Eberechi Eze (QPR)

The 21-year-old attacking midfielder of Nigerian descent is not a completely unknown entity to the fans in the Championship, given that he featured regularly in QPR’s first-team last season. 

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Eze has been in the frame for the last couple of seasons and while he might not have done enough to attract suitors from the Premier League, this might well be the season for the highly-rated midfielder to take significant strides towards fulfilling his potential. 

The youngster has already scored once and assisted a couple in his first 6 league appearances for QPR, bagging a couple of man-of-the-match awards in the process, and there is every possibility that he might challenge for bigger things in the near future if he continues that kind form. 

4. Marcus Tavernier (Middlesbrough)

Another England youth international on the list, the Middlesbrough academy graduate has found himself in the periphery of the first-team over the past couple of campaigns and this might be the season where he finally kicks on and manages to establish himself in a more significant role.

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The appointment of Jonathan Woodgate should certainly help his development at Teesside and though he has just played a solitary cameo from the bench in the Championship so far, one would expect him to enjoy regular minutes in the latter stages of the season.


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Derby County

[Image] Here’s the EFL Championship TOTW for gameweek 7 featuring Middlesbrough and Leeds stars

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2019-20 EFL Championship: Team of the Week Round 7 

Round 7 of the 2019-20 EFL Championship had everything in store for all sections of the fans to savour and admire, as the players returned to action following the end of the international break. 

There was hardly any shortage of twists, turns and talking points in Round 7. Leeds United reclaimed top spot in the standings, Swansea and Charlton Athletic lost their unbeaten status, Stoke City and Huddersfield Town continued their losing habits and West Brom remained the only unbeaten side in the division. 

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There were some fantastic individual performances too, and with that in mind, here’s the Team of the Week for Round 7 in a 4-3-3 formation.

Championship Team of the Week

Darren Randolph (GK)

The Irish shot-stopper made some crucial saves to propel Middlesbrough to a 1-0 victory over Reading at the Riverside Stadium and he definitely deserves a place in the elite elven.

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Scott Malone (LB)

Derby County remained in the bottom half with a 1-1 draw against Cardiff City but the left-back put in a much-improved performance as compared to his previous outings and scored the Rams’ only goal.

Maxime Colin (RB)

Birmingham City broke into the top-ten by ending Charlton’s unbeaten run with a 1-0 victory away from home, and the Frenchman was instrumental in the Blues’ win with his solid display at the back. 

Derrick Williams (CB)

The Irish centre-back was one of the standout performers, as Blackburn Rovers got themselves back to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over Millwall.

Darragh Lenihan (CB)

One of the architects of Blackburn’s victory at the weekend, the Irish defender is one of the surprise inclusions in this week’s elite eleven. 

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Kalvin Phillips (CDM)

The central midfielder put up yet another dogged display in the midfield to guide Leeds United to a 2-0 victory over Barnsley, registering an assist with a free-kick for Nketiah’s goal. 

Eberechi Eze (RAM)

The Nigerian has really come of age for QPR this term and the attacking midfielder was once again one of the driving forces behind his team’s 3-2 victory over Luton Town, registering a goal and an assist in the process.

Mateusz Klich (LAM)

The Polish international once again proved his worth as one of Marcelo Bielsa’s trusted lieutenants in the middle of the park and secured a 2-0 victory for his team with a well-taken penalty towards the end of the game. 

Robert Glatzel (RW)

The towering German centre-forward equalised from the penalty spot for Cardiff City in the Bluebirds’ 1-1 draw against Derby County and finally registered his first goal of the EFL Championship.

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Harry Cornick (LW)

Luton lost a five-goal thriller at Loftus Road but Cornick impressed with a goal and an assist in what was a fine individual performance. 

Nakhi Wells (ST)

A proven source of goals in the EFL Championship, Wells bagged a brace in QPR’s 3-2 victory over Luton Town to hand Mark Warburton’s side a third consecutive victory in the league.

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Bristol City

3 Winners and 3 Losers from Championship gameweek 7 including Leeds United and Swansea City

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2019-20 EFL Championship: 3 Winners and 3 Losers from Round 7

The players returned to action for their respective clubs this weekend when the international break finally came to an end and Round 7 of the 2019-20 EFL Championship witnessed quite a few twists and turns, most notably, with Leeds United displacing Swansea City to reclaim the top spot in the standings.

Swansea and newly-promoted Charlton Athletic both saw their unbeaten run in the division come to a halt, while Stoke City and Huddersfield Town once again finished the week at the bottom of the table with defeats against Bristol City and Sheffield Wednesday respectively.

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Elsewhere, West Brom drew 1-1 away at Fulham to remain the only unbeaten side in the Championship after seven rounds. Without further ado, let us take a look at 3 winners and 3 losers from Round 7:

Winners

1. Leeds United

A narrow 1-0 defeat at the hands of Swansea City at home in the previous league fixture saw Leeds United go into the international break placed second in the standings but Marcelo Bielsa’s side reclaimed the top spot with a comfortable 2-0 victory away at Barnsley on Sunday, overtaking the Swans, who slumped to an unexpected 1-0 defeat at home against Nottingham Forest. 

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The Whites dominated the proceedings but it took them as long as 84 minutes to finally break the deadlock, thanks to Eddie Nketiah’s opener off a free kick from Kalvin Phillips.

Nketiah then earned the penalty for Mateusz Klich to make it 2-0 just before the end of the game and the Yorkshire giants should be pleased to get back to the top of the table after a long and hard grind against the newly-promoted outfit. 

2. Bristol City

The Robins went into the fixture against Stoke City away from home on the back of an unbeaten run of five games in the EFL Championship and a 2-1 victory saw Lee Johnson’s side stretch their streak to six games. 

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Sam Clucas gave the Potters the lead with a crisp strike from inside the box but Stoke were always going to be in trouble after Joe Allen received a straight red card for a horrible lunge.

Famara Diedhiou’s header levelled the scores in the 55th minute before a failed goalline clearance from Tom Edwards sealed things for Bristol City, who finished the week placed 4th in the standings. 

3. QPR

Queens Park Rangers had the chance to make it three in a row in the Championship this weekend when they played host to newly-promoted Luton Town at Loftus Road, having beaten Wigan Athletic and Sheffield Wednesday prior to the international break.

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And Mark Warburton’s side edged past the Hatters in a 3-2 thriller on Saturday, with the victory pushing them to 7th place in the standings just behind the likes of West Brom and Preston on goal difference. 

When Eberechi Eze opened the scoring in the third minute and Nakhi Wells made it 3-0 before the half-hour mark with a quickfire brace, it looked as if the hosts were heading for a pretty straightforward victory.

Luton, though, showed a lot of character to get back into the game with goals from Harry Cornick and James Collins but that wasn’t enough to prevent QPR from making it 4 wins out of 7.

Losers

1. Swansea City

Swansea started Round 7 at the top of the standings after their victory over Leeds United in the last game but Steve Cooper’s side saw their unbeaten run come to a sudden halt at the hands of Nottingham Forest, who bagged all three points at the Liberty Stadium courtesy of Alfa Semedo’s 85th-minute goal. 

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The Swans had more of the possession throughout the game but they failed to create enough clear-cut chances and Cooper has every reason to be disappointed with his team’s efforts after the international break.

2. Charlton Athletic

Charlton’s fairytale start to the EFL Championship finally came to an end this weekend as the Addicks went down 1-0 to Birmingham City at The Valley, courtesy of a solitary strike from Jude Bellingham in the second half.

The Addicks enjoyed a lot of possession and carved out a few decent chances but it just wasn’t their day in front of goal and they will be looking to get themselves back to winning ways when they make the trip to Wigan Athletic next week.

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3. Stoke City

The fans at the Bet 365 Stadium would have hoped for the turnaround of fortunes for their team after the international break but it wasn’t to be, as Bristol City beat the Potters 2-1 on their home turf to inflict a fourth straight defeat in the Championship and sixth overall in the league so far.

Sam Clucas’ early opener certainly gave them hope but Bristol City were always going to be the favourites when Joe Allen received a straight red card in the 12th minute. Up next for Nathan Jones’ side is a trip to Brentford. 

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Dragon Feeds

2 Highs and 2 Lows from Leeds United’s start to the season

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2 Highs and 2 Lows from how Leeds United have started the season

Leeds United have made a positive start to life in their second season under the reign of Marcelo Bielsa after a playoff defeat earlier in the summer damned them to yet another campaign of Championship football. 

A 1-0 defeat to Swansea City at home last weekend ended the Whites’ unbeaten run in the league but the manager has plenty of positives to take from the club’s impressive start to the ongoing campaign. 

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Indeed, those agonising memories of how Leeds blew away a golden chance to make it back to the Premier League last season are still likely to be fresh in the minds of the supporters.

However, the Whites have already laid down an early marker that they are once again going to be strong contenders for promotion this term and with that in mind, let us take a look at a few positives and negatives from their start to the season.

Positives

1. Absolutely no hangover of last season’s failure

Having seen their hopes of making a much-awaited return to the Premier League come to nothing last season, it was always going to be intriguing to see whether Leeds United would be able to put all the disappointment behind them and raise themselves to compete for promotion all over again. 

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Well, it’s only six games into the season but the fans at Elland Road should be pleased with the way their team has performed in the opening rounds of the season. 

Those monsters from last season’s play-off agony against Derby County have hardly come back to haunt the Whites and the players certainly haven’t lacked any sort of commitment and motivation, as evident from their performances so far. 

In fact, Leeds have looked like a well-oiled unit in most of the games and when at their best, the Whites have produced some sparkling attacking football to ensure that the fans get their money’s worth.

Leeds were the architects of their own downfall for a number of reasons towards the end of last season and Marcelo Bielsa certainly deserves a lot of credit for inspiring his team to a promising start this term. 

2. Bamford and Nketiah getting amongst the goals

One of the key takeaways from Leeds United’s failed bid for promotion in the previous campaign was the absence of a prolific striker, with Kemar Roofe’s tally of 15 goals not enough to match the exploits of some of his counterparts from the promotion rivals. 

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And plenty of eyebrows were raised when the Whites sanctioned the sale of last season’s top-scorer, Roofe, this summer, whilst bringing in youngster Eddie Nketiah on loan from Arsenal to provide cover and competition for Patrick Bamford.

Bamford struggles with injuries and his failure to deliver the goods consistently had come back to haunt Leeds badly last season but the fans will breathe a sigh of relief following the former Chelsea man’s promising start to the ongoing campaign. 

The 26-year-old has already chipped in with 4 goals and an assist in 6 starts, while Nketiah, yet to start a game in the league, has already netted thrice in all competitions, including the winner as a substitute in the 1-0 victory over Brentford.

With Tyler Roberts also on the comeback trail from injury, Leeds will be hoping that Bamford and Nketiah continue their impressive run of form in front of goal and more importantly, manage to keep themselves free of injuries. 

Negatives

1. Home Form

Bielsa, though, is likely to be aware of his team’s inconsistent run of form in the home fixtures since the second half of the previous campaign.

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Leeds turned Elland Road into a fortress in the earlier stages of the 2018-19 season but their home form took a significant turnaround in the latter stages of the campaign, something that has continued to haunt them this term as well. 

Leeds have won only one of their three fixtures in the Championship this season, with the Whites accumulating just 4 points in those 3 league games.

They also lost at home to Stoke City in the second round of the EFL Cup, a result which came as a surprise to many. 

2. Defending Set-Pieces

Leeds currently boast of the best defensive record in the Championship, having conceded only thrice in their first six games in the league.

With new signing Ben White taking well to the surroundings at Elland Road and filling the void left by the departure of Pontus Jansson, the Yorkshire giants have looked rock solid at the back so far. 

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However, it is worth mentioning here that 3 of the 5 goals that they have conceded in all competitions so far have come from corners, a fact that might have gone under the radar due to their impressive start to the season. 

That seems pretty ironical though, given that both White and Liam Cooper are strong in the air and very much adept at dealing with crosses. 

This is something that a detail-oriented manager like Bielsa would have taken note of and the Argentine will certainly point it out to his defenders on the training ground once the international break gets over. 

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Plus, the goal that they conceded against Swansea was a result of some sloppy defending, to be honest, with the players failing to get the ball away to safety on a number of occasions. 

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