It’s mid August and everyone’s played at least twice.
Eleven clubs without a win, there are ten sides that are unbeaten and unlike League One, everyone’s scored or conceded at least one goal.
Last weekend’s game of the week was the first time Derby had been beaten at home by Leeds by more than one goal since March 1998, when the Rams were stuffed 5-0 in a Premier League game:
It’s hard to know how to interpret that result at the moment. We’re two games in and Leeds are either destined for the Premier League or it’s a repeat of last season’s fast start – United were top of the table until late September before dropping out of the top six altogether a month later. Derby scraped a late victory at Reading on the opening weekend before their heaviest home defeat since the end of March – against Sunderland, who were relegated.
Arguably the simplest interpretation is that Marcelo Bielsa is a better manager than Frank Lampard. Let’s see where we are at Valentine’s Day: I’ve added a reminder to my online calendar.
The game of the week is at Portman Road, where Ipswich entertain Aston Villa in a bottom six/top six match. The hosts have only won one of their last ten home games in the competition and haven’t beaten Villa in a league game since September 1984. Without counting the playoff win at Middlesbrough at the end of last season, Steve Bruce’s side have won half of their last ten aways: I find myself wondering if it’s Villa’s turn to score a few goals this weekend…
In the League Cup, only seven teams were eliminated at the first hurdle including last season’s semi finalists Bristol City. Four clubs needed penalties to win their ties including Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest, who beat a pair of League Two sides (Notts County and Bury respectively) on spot kicks after being behind on three occasions (Boro) and for 88 minutes plus playing for most of the game with ten men (Forest).
This weekend’s televised games are Birmingham v Swansea (Friday, Sky Sports Football/Main Event, 7:45pm kick off) and Preston v Stoke (Saturday, Sky Sports Football/Main Event, 5:30pm). The first was clearly chosen for the Garry Monk angle and is the first time the clubs have met in a League game at St Andrew’s (I refuse to call it the new name) since December 2008; the first competitive meeting between Preston and Stoke was in the inaugural season of the Football League – on 6th October 1889 the Lillywhites thrashed Stoke 7-0 and went on to win the first ever league title by eleven points, the equivalent of 17 points these days.
There’s a full midweek programme next week, which means that next week I’ll be able to bring you some very early performance analysis. Not sure when that’ll be though, due to a Bank Holiday commitment…