It was a fun couple of weeks being in the limelight, but unless you’re actually a fan of a Championship team or have a good reason to follow the competition, it’s time to accept that the Premier League is the greatest football competition in the world and that nothing can exist outside it (except possibly La Liga*). So for anyone who wants to leave, this is your opportunity…
OK, now we’ve got that out of the way we can concentrate on the rest of the season. After two games, the table has a strange sort of familiarity to it: other than Blackpool at the top and Charlton and Brighton at the bottom, this is more or less how the Championship could look at the end of the season. Of course it’s not possible for ten teams for remain unbeaten and you’d expect both Barnsley and Millwall to score at least one goal before the end of the month, just as it’s highly likely that Nottingham Forest will start conceding goals at some point fairly soon.
Last week’s game of the week finished in a 1-1 draw, which propelled Reading up the table and Bolton in the opposite direction despite the Trotters taking the lead thanks to Darren Pratley’s second goal of the season. He’s now scored as many goals as he did last season, but Nick Blackman’s penalty five minutes after the restart meant the spoils were shared.
Due to the demands of the Community Shield we’ve got games on Friday and Saturday this week. Doncaster‘s game against Blackburn has been bought forward to this evening as Donny are playing at Wigan next Tuesday – it’s worth reminding everyone that the Europa League will start eating into Wigan’s schedule in about a month’s time. The early kick off on Saturday is the Yorkshire derby between Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday at Elland Road (Sky Sports 1 12:15pm kick off), which is probably early enough to stop any of the nonsense that happened at Hillsborough last season.
I would have picked Reading’s game with Watford for game of the week, but having the same team in consecutive weeks is boring and because of the way the competition has developed since the start of the month, there’s actually a match between two of the bottom three this weekend.
I mentioned before the season began that I thought that Barnsley might find themselves struggling in 2013/14 but they’ve had about as bad a start as you can get. They’ve not scored in the Championship since Jason Scotland gave them the lead in the last game of the season at Huddersfield and their habit of losing heavily at home hasn’t been broken: in the last calendar year, Barnsley have conceded more than three goals at home on five occasions and lost all of those games.
Their opponents at Oakwell on Saturday – Charlton – are a bit of an enigma at the moment. After an eight game unbeaten run at the end of last season, the Addicks don’t seem to have got the memo that this campaign has actually begun yet. However, losing a couple of games on the trot isn’t exactly out of character for them – the problem Charlton have is that the Tykes will want revenge for the 6-0 mauling at South Yorkshire in April and that last time Charlton won two games in a row at Barnsley was in the mid 1930s.
Also worth keeping an eye on this weekend: Derby v Leicester (East Midlands rivalry, clubs only seperated on goal difference) and Bournemouth v Wigan (cue the old cliches about the how they were two divisions apart last season, but the hosts need to bounce back after being thrashed at Watford last week)
* Personally, I think the Championship has more in common with the Bundesliga (without Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund) than the Premier League.