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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
EFL Championship round 6: Winners and Losers of the weekend including high-flying Swansea and struggling Huddersfield
2019-20 EFL Championship: Winners and Losers from Round 6
The top of the table clash between two of Championship’s early-pace-setters, Swansea City and Leeds United at Elland Road was expected to be one of the main attractions of Round 6, and after a tense, hard-fought ninety minutes in West Yorkshire, it was the Swans who had the last laugh.
Leeds controlled the possession for large quarters of the game and the likes of Patrick Bamford, Jack Harrison and Ezgjan Alioski all came close to opening the scoring for the Whites, only to be denied by some tight and resolute defending by Steve Cooper’s side.
Wayne Routledge proved to be the super-sub for the Swans, as the winger’s shot tricked into the goal in the 90th minute to ensure that the Welsh outfit went into the international break on top of the standings, while Marcelo Bielsa’s side only have themselves to blame for failing to make their chances count.
Elsewhere, Charlton Athletic continued their fairytale start to the campaign with yet another impressive 2-0 victory over Reading away from home. Goals from Jonathan Taylor and Lyle Taylor propelled the Addicks to second place in the standings, with Lee Bowyer’s side boasting of 4 wins from their first six games.
Having played out draws against Reading and Derby County in their previous couple of fixtures, West Brom returned to winning ways this weekend as the Baggies edged out Blackburn Rovers 3-2 at home to continue their unbeaten run in the Championship.
Bradley Dack opened the scoring for the visitors inside the first minute of the game before goals from Matt Phillips, Jake Livermore and Grady Diangana made it 3-1 in favour of Slaven Bilic’s side. Bradley Johnson made it 3-2 in first-half injury-time and it stayed that way in the second half.
Meanwhile, Bristol City played host to Middlesbrough on the back of three consecutive victories in the Championship but the Robins could only manage a 2-2 draw, thus heading into the break placed 5th in the standings.
Kasey Palmer opened the scoring for Lee Johnson’s side just at the stroke of the interval before an own goal from Taylor Moore restored parity. Britt Assombalonga’s strike in the 68th minute promised to hand Boro their second win of the season but a goal from Tommy Smith saved the blushes for the hosts.
There wasn’t much joy for the likes of Cardiff City and Fulham though, as both the teams played out a rather stale 1-1 draw in South Wales on Saturday. Josh Murphy’s opener was cancelled out by Aleksandar Mitrovic, who netted his fifth goal of the season.
The Cottagers had the better chances to turn one point into three but Harry Arter’s second bookable offence midway through the second half meant that Scott Parker’s side went into the break with 10 points in their opening six games this term.
Elsewhere, Sheffield Wednesday suffered their second successive league defeat to drop down to 11th in the standings, as Mark Warburton’s QPR upset the Owls 2-1 at Hillsborough on Saturday.
Ashley Fletcher opened the scoring for Lee Bullen’s side from the spot in the first half but Jordan Hugill’s second-half brace fired QPR to back-to-back wins in the league.
Stoke City’s woeful start to the season doesn’t look likely to end anytime soon as the Potters went down 2-1 away at Birmingham City, thus suffering their fifth loss in six games.
Goals from Lukas Jutkiewicz and Jude Bellingham cancelled out Liam Lindsay’s opener to hand the Blues their third win of the campaign.
There was nothing much to talk about in the goalless draw between Wigan Athletic and Barnsley, barring the red card incident featuring Barnsley’s Ben Williams, who received the marching orders from the referee in injury-time.
Huddersfield Town’s 2-1 loss against newcomers Luton Town ensured that the Terriers will be heading into the international break without a single win in their first six games.
James Collins’ goal from the penalty spot cancelled out Karlan Grant’s opener before Andrew Shinnie’s strike handed the Hatters their second victory of the season.
Preston North End played out a 1-1 draw away at Nottingham Forest, while Hull City faced the same fate away at Millwall. Brentford, though, pulled off a surprise with a resounding 3-0 victory over Derby County at home.
Both teams came into the game at Griffin Park with only a solitary win in their opening five games and Bryan Mbuemo’s first goal of the Championship followed by a brace from Ollie Watkins inflicted a heavy defeat on Phillip Cocu’s side, who dropped down to 19th in the standings.
5 Talking points from round 5 of the EFL Championship including Swansea’s hot streak and Grabban’s brace
2019-20 EFL Championship: 5 Talking Points from Round 5
The 2019-20 season of the EFL Championship is underway in full swing and Round 5 had plenty in store for all sets of fans, with the weekend ending in ecstasy for some sections and in agony for others.
There was hardly any shortage of thrills and spills, as yet another enthralling week of Championship football provided plenty of stellar individual performances, end-to-end encounters, upsets, heartbreaks and, of course, a whole lot of talking points for the media to dissect.
With that in mind, here are some key talking points from Round 5 of the EFL Championship.
1. Stoke City 0-3 Leeds United: Bamford continues to find the net as veteran Hernandez turns back the clock
Leeds United continued their merry way in the Championship, as Marcelo Bielsa’s side preserved their fairytale start to the campaign with another thumping 3-0 victory over Stoke City away from home.
The Yorkshire giants came into the game on the back of victories over Wigan Athletic and Brentford and the Whites stretched their winning run to three in a row, thus finishing Round 5 on top the Championship standings.
Goals from Stuart Dallas, Ezgjan Alioski and Patrick Bamford helped Leeds put a listless Stoke City unit to the sword but the real architect of the win, Pablo Hernandez, was unlucky not to have gotten his name on the scoresheet.
Hernandez’s incredible through ball found the run of Dallas, who made it 1-0 at the stroke of half-time before the Spaniard was once again involved in a slick exchange of passes with Bamford and Mateusz Klich for Alioski’s goal in the 50th minute.
The veteran was also the architect of Bamford’s goal and whilst the fans should be happy with the striker’s early-season blitz, Hernandez remains the club’s indispensable creative weapon in the attacking third.
2. Swansea City 3-0 Birmingham City: Borja Baston stars as Swans continue wonderful start to the campaign
Swansea City lost two of their most influential attackers from the previous campaign – Daniel James and Oliver Mcburnie, prior to the start of the season but that hasn’t stopped the Swans from grabbing the headlines with a stellar start to the Championship.
And Steve Cooper’s side registered their fourth victory of the season, driving 3-0 past a lacklustre Birmingham City at the Liberty Stadium, thanks to goals from Kyle Naughton, Bersant Celina and Borja Baston.
Baston’s second-half goal from the penalty spot took his tally for the season up to 5 goals, thus making him the outright top-scorer in the Championship thus far.
Cooper is also likely to be happy with the displays of Andre Ayew on the flanks, Mike van der Hoorn at the heart of the backline, as well as Matt Grimes, who was the key anchor and the heartbeat of the Swans’ midfield in that impressive win.
3. Charlton Athletic 1-0 Brentford: Gallagher grabs the headlines to preserve the Addicks’ unbeaten run
Charlton Athletic were under the cosh for long periods at home against a wasteful Brentford unit but Lee Bowyer’s side ultimately managed to come away with all three points, thus maintaining their fairytale start to the campaign.
The Addicks continued to fly the flag high for the newly-promoted outfits in the Championship, as Conor Gallagher’s 41st-minute strike propelled Charlton to their third victory of the season.
Despite lagging behind both in terms of possession, as well as the number of chances created, Charlton’s resilient and determined team performance helped them edge past the Bees by the thinnest of margins.
Gallagher, who is on loan from Chelsea, registered his third goal of the campaign, having already scored in the 3-1 victory over Stoke and the 2-2 draw against Barnsley, although he wasn’t the only impressive performer on the pitch for the Addicks on Saturday.
4. Fulham 1-2 Nottingham Forest: Grabban’s brace ends Cottagers’ three-game winning streak
Fulham were flying high after three consecutive victories over Blackburn Rovers, Huddersfield Town and Millwall but a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Nottingham Forest at home brought the Cottagers crashing down to earth.
Scott Parker’s men came into the game as the outright favourites following a 4-0 rout of Millwall in the mid-week fixture but Lewis Grabban’s opener four minutes into the game pushed them back.
Anthony Knockaert had a couple of attempts saved and Mitrovic fired his header over the bar from close range before Sammy Ameobi set up Grabban for his second of the game midway through the second half, with Mitrovic’s strike seven minutes from time proving to be just a consolation for the Cottagers.
5. Hull City 1-3 Bristol City: Afobe bags a brace as Robins make it three in a row
Bristol City raced to their third consecutive victory in the Championship by outclassing Hull City 3-1 away from home on Saturday to finish Round 5 placed 4th in the standings.
The Robins lost 3-1 to Leeds in their opening fixture but Lee Johnson’s side have made a strong statement with consecutive victories against QPR, Derby County and Hull City.
Jarrod Bowen’s solitary strike wasn’t enough for the Tigers as Benik Afobe’s brace and an own goal from Reece Burke fired Bristol City to yet another impressive triumph.
Johnson’s men fell agonisingly short of a playoff spot last term but given their impressive run of form early in the ongoing campaign, the fans at Ashton Gate have every reason to hope that their club can, indeed, go one step better this time and finally finish in the top-six.
5 Talking points from Leeds United’s 3-1 win vs Bristol City in the Championship season-opener
5 Talking Points from Leeds United’s 3-1 victory over Bristol City in the season-opener
Leeds United’s pursuit of promotion to the Premier League might have ended in disappointment last season but those demons hardly played a part when Marcelo Bielsa’s side made a thumping start to the 2019-20 campaign of the Championship with a resounding 3-1 victory over Bristol City at Ashton Gate on Sunday.
Many would have expected the Yorkshire giants to be in a hangover of the agony of blowing away a golden chance to make it to the Premier League last season but the Whites answered their critics in the best possible manner over the course of the 90 minutes in their 2019-20 Championship season-opener at Ashton Gate.
Indeed, in a dominant display that reflected the team’s tough character and strong mentality, Leeds sent out a strong message to the other promotion-chasing teams that they are ready to battle it out for the Championship’s ultimate prize – promotion to the Premier League.
Bielsa’s side caught the game by the scruff of the neck right from the very start as the Whites controlled possession with authority, never really allowing the Robins to get into their rhythm. They even managed to carve out some impressive chances of their own.
Pablo Hernandez’s wonder goal midway through the first-half followed by goals from Patrick Bamford and Jack Harrison in the second half was enough to seal all three points for the West Yorkshire giants, as Andreas Weimann’s deflected near-post strike eleven minutes from time proved to be just a mere consolation.
On a matchday where all the newly-relegated teams from the Premier League – Fulham, Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town, suffered shock defeats, the fans at Elland Road have every reason to be happy with the fact that Leeds managed to overcome the jitters in their opening fixture.
Looking back at how things went for the Whites over the course of the ninety minutes at Ashton Gate, Marcelo Bielsa should have plenty of positives to take from his team’s victory and he is supposed to be the happiest of the lot given that all his hard work in stitching the team together during the pre-season seemed to have paid rich dividends.
With that in mind, let us analyse Leeds’ performance in detail and jot down a few talking points from their 3-1 victory over Bristol City.
1. Old is Gold – Pablo Hernandez is simply the best
Cometh the hour, cometh the man – it was none other than the 34-year-old Pablo Hernandez, who lit up the scenes at Ashton Gate with some eye-catching moments of individual brilliance to play a starring role in what was an excellent team performance.
The fans would probably have feared that this season would be the beginning of Hernandez’s decline given his advancing years, but the Spaniard once again reminded everybody of the old cliche, ‘age is nothing but just a number’.
Hernandez’s excellent close control and skilful turn to shift the ball on to his stronger foot, followed by an incredible curling strike into the top corner of David Bentley’s goal opened the scoring for the Whites in the first half, leaving many to wonder as to how the 34-year-old continues to produce such mesmerizing moments even at this age.
That, however, was just the beginning, as Hernandez continued to create problems for the Robins’ backline with his pace, guile, skills and subtle movement. He was once again in the thick of things in the second half, with the Spaniard setting up the second goal on a platter for Patrick Bamford.
Indeed, the season-opener was a reminder that Hernandez will need to play a key role once again this season if Leeds are to get over the promotion line.
2. Ben White’s impressive debut
Debates on how Leeds United would cope with the absence of Pontus Jansson at the heart of the defence have been raging in the media ever since the Swedish international switched to Brentford earlier in the summer.
Well, those talks are expected to cool down now given that debutant Ben White showed in the 3-1 victory that he is certainly capable of filling in Jansson’s shoes at the back despite his obvious lack of experience.
The critics might still argue that it is just the start of the season but the 21-year-old Brighton loanee did put up a strong performance in his first game for the Whites.
Deployed at the heart of the backline alongside the experienced Liam Cooper, White showed plenty of composure on the ball and in all honesty, his passing was comparable to a central midfielder.
The youngster registered a total of 65 passes at an accuracy rate of 84.5%, including 6 successful long balls, 3 aerial duels, 1 tackle, 1 interception and 3 clearances, figures which are a testament to his fine start at Elland Road.
3. A confidence booster for Patrick Bamford
If there was anybody in Leeds’ ranks who needed a goal to regain confidence, it had to be Patrick Bamford.
The former Middlesbrough man had netted only 9 goals in the Championship last season and never managed to nail down a regular starting role due to recurrent injuries, but with previous season’s top-scorer Kemar Roofe departing the club, Leeds desperately needed Bamford to deliver the goods this term.
And the elegant playmaking forward produced a fine performance up top in the 3-1 victory to begin his campaign on a positive note. His passing was slick, movement subtle, and he grabbed his scoring opportunity with both hands when Hernandez set it up for him with a fine piece of skill in the second half.
The fans will be hoping that this performance wasn’t a mere flash in the pan, and Bamford certainly needs to build on this start and make a habit of finding the net every week.
4. Bielsa’s persistence with his midfield trio
Bielsa, apparently, wasn’t too keen to experiment heavily with his team dynamics in the season-opener and the Argentine went into the game with his preferred 4-1-4-1 system.
While the likes of Bamford, Hernandez and Harrison stole the show with their goals, central midfielders Mateusz Klich, Adam Forshaw and Kalvin Phillips were also equal to the task and made a key contribution in the victory.
Despite a few moments of sloppiness, Phillips was an influential, robust and an authoritative presence in his deep role in the midfield as a shield for the rearguard.
The 23-year-old not only won possession back, but also retained the ball at his feet to set the tempo of the game and stamped his authority in the air. He also unleashed some wonderful long passes to turn defence into attack in the blink of an eye.
Klich and Forshaw, who operated in a more advanced role, also contributed equally to both the defence and the attack, also linking up very well with each other to carve out a few chances. In fact, it was Klich’s shot that led to Harrison’s goal in the second half.
5. A few question marks
While Leeds definitely have plenty of positives to take from a few individual performances and good team performance in their season-opener at Ashton Gate, Bielsa would probably have noted down that a few players at the back need to pull up their socks. And goalkeeper Kiko Casilla is certainly one of them.
It would be unfair to say that the Spaniard was outrightly poor on Sunday but he never really looked in complete control of the proceedings inside his penalty area, with his improper decision making threatening to put the team in trouble on a number of occasions.
Casilla made some good interventions but he sometimes came out of his zone and got nowhere close to the ball, signs which probably won’t go down too well with the manager. He was beaten at the near post for the goal he conceded, which isn’t a pleasant sight for any goalkeeper, although there was a slight deflection.
With Bailey Peacock-Farrell now out of the frame, Leeds will need the former Real Madrid star to raise his game and prove his worth between the sticks.
Casilla wasn’t the only one who showed some signs of early-season rustiness, as full-backs Stuart Dallas and Barry Douglas looked shaky on a number of occasions.
If their performance on Sunday was anything to go by, Bielsa would probably want the likes of Luke Ayling Ayling and Ezgjan Alioski to be available as soon as possible.
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