The Championship race is hotting up

With the just 14 games left in this years Championship, Jimmy Moorhouse looks at the contenders for promotion.

This season’s Championship has been one of the most entertaining in recent history, and with several teams vying for the two automatic promotion spots, it could be on course to see a grandstand finish.

The best placed teams to achieve promotion to the Premier League look to any two from Norwich, Leeds or Sheffield United.

However, with the amount of quality in the Championship, expect several twists and turns before the end of the season, and thus it would be unfair to rule out the likes of Middlesbrough and West Brom, who both currently occupy playoff positions.

Norwich city have perhaps been the standout performers so far this season, with the Canaries deservedly in first place with 69 points. Daniel Farke’s men have been extremely consistent, whilst playing some superb football.

A combination of homegrown talents such as Jamal Lewis and Ben Godfrey and players brought in from Germany have led to Norwich quickly rising from playoff hopefuls to title favourites.

Finnish striker Teemu Pukki has led the way for the East Anglia side, scoring an incredible 24 goals, something which is made far more impressive by the fact that Norwich managed to secure his services on a free transfer.

Hot on the Canaries tail are Leeds United, who are seeking a return to the Premier League after a 15-year absence, following their relegation in the 2003/04 season.

Leeds are just two points behind Norwich and following their recent impressive 4-0 victory over fellow promotion hopefuls West Bromwich Albion, they’ve certainly demonstrated their own title credentials.

Kemar Roofe has showed his class for the Yorkshire side, scoring 14 goals, whilst Mateusz Klich and Pablo Hernandez have been impressive in midfield. Marcelo Bielsa was of course a marquee appointment, and so far his side have played some wonderful football, which has seen them maintain a place at the top end of the league for the majority of the season.

Recent form has been rather indifferent for Leeds, as before their 4-0 triumph they had suffered defeat in five of their last ten games, but Bielsa insists that his side still has it what it takes to win the title this season.

If Leeds are to gain promotion, they will have to maintain their current two point lead over arguably this season’s surprise package, Sheffield United.

United have been extremely impressive in the championship since their promotion from League One during the 2016/17 season. Chris Wilder has worked wonders with a relatively small budget by Championship standards.

Billy Sharp has been one of the most clinical strikers in the football league in recent years, and he is just two goals behind Pukki, with an impressive 22 league goals this season.

The blades strength seems to be in their defence and strong midfield, with Jack O’Connell and John Fleck standout performers. United are extremely reliant on Sharp however, and although it looks unlikely, if his form were to drop or if he were to be injured, it’s perhaps difficult to see where the goals will come from.

However, United haven’t come this far by chance, and deservedly occupy third spot in the Championship, with automatic promotion still a very real possibility.

With just eleven games to go, it will be a very interesting conclusion to the Championship season, and it with the likes of Middlesbrough and West Brom still threatening, a grandstand finish to the season seems likely.

Words by Jimmy Moorhouse

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