We are in the middle of a bit of a break at the top of English football, with the clubs taking a break from league play since the New Year’s Day matches last Tuesday (though there was FA Cup action over the weekend).
This week’s rankings saw some big moves over last week, with only seven clubs not moving. The “Festive Fixtures” wreaked some havoc on our rankings, with last week’s new #1 club – West Bromwich Albion – already off the top of the rankings after a loss on New Year’s. Furthermore, our rankings compared to the league table have really diverged over the past couple of weeks, something I expect to correct itself over the next couple of weeks as transfers and loans are sorted out during the January transfer period.
Note: Records presented as W-D-L
Through matches played on 1 January 2019
|Rank||Team||Record||Last Week||Change||Table Pos|
|5||Queens Park Rangers||11-6-9||8||3↑||9|
|8||West Bromwich Albion||13-7-6||1||7↓||8|
|20||Preston North End||7-8-11||16||4↓||17|
Beyond the Rankings
The Hottest Clubs in the Championship
After 12 matches, Hull City found themselves at the bottom of the table in 24th place after a 2-2-8 start. It took them another eight matches (3-2-3) to climb out of the relegation zone. In the midst of a eight match unbeaten streak (6-2-0), Hull City is still in the bottom half of the table, though now they lead the second half of the standings. Can they continue on the same type of streak and compete for a playoff spot? This week’s matchup against Sheffield Wednesday will be a great indicator whether or not they can maintain the recent gains.
Joining Hull City in the midst of an eight match unbeaten streak (4-4-0) is Bristol City. While the Robins haven’t been as low in the table as Hull City, they are 18 matches removed from being in position for the playoffs. Also, prior to their current streak, they were coming off a four match losing streak. They are still only in 11th position in the league table (and our rankings), but they are only five points behind Derby County for a spot in the playoffs.
Recent Cool Streaks
Leeds United and Norwich City are still at the top of the league table (though obviously not our rankings). This is because of their own recent cool streaks, which has allowed the clubs below them to close the gap at the top of the table. Leeds United has lost two matches in a row, to the aforementioned Hull City and Nottingham Forest, two clubs they should have at least drawn against based on their earlier performance this season.
Norwich City, on the other hand, is in the midst of a three-match winless streak (0-2-1), with a loss to Derby County sandwiched by draws to Forest and Brentford. For both these top clubs, I don’t expect the poor results to continue based on their previous performance this season, but it will take a few matches for them to show that they are back on the path to dominating the league like they were prior to the holidays.
The Coldest of Streaks
Reading has not won a match since 3 November, going 0-5-5 during the interim. This was expected; I had Reading slated to finish as the 22nd club heading into the season, and they have yet to climb above 19th in the league this season. This is despite scoring the same number goals as higher-ranked Middlesbrough on the season (28) – which is more goals than the rest of the clubs in the bottom six of the league. Unfortunately, Reading has surrendered 41 goals along the way, which hasn’t helped them find any success. They sure are thankful for Ipswich Town to keep them off the bottom.
Wigan Athletic has also been terrible at winning lately. Their last victory closed out November, and they have gone 0-2-5 since. This was after they spent much of the first quarter of the season in the top 10, a position they haven’t held since a loss on Matchday 14 to Millwall, and have tumbled down since. Thus far, the Latics have avoided the relegation zone, and they currently sit four points clear of that dreaded zone. But if they cannot find a way to return to winning, it will only be a matter of time before they are down among the dregs of the league.
Until next time…