With another international break at the top of the English Football League, we felt it was time to update our monthly power rankings in the Championship.
All clubs have played 11 matches on the season – five matches since our September Power Rankings – so we are just about a quarter through the season. And while some clubs have rounded into shape, others seem to still be finding their way through the early part of the schedule.
These rankings are updated as of matches played through 5 October, with action resuming after the break on 18 October. The change in rankings is based only on the five league matches played since our September rankings, which may have been skewed a bit by some lofty preseason expectations for some clubs. We feel that the rankings have started to better reflect the clubs, at least so far this season, but should not be deemed as predictive as where we think the clubs will end up at the end of the season.
We’ll cover a handful of clubs after the rankings, but here’s where we have the league after two months of play:
Note: Records presented as W-D-L
|2||West Bromwich Albion||6-4-1||2||—||1|
|3||Preston North End||6-3-2||6||3↑||3|
|6||Queens Park Rangers||6-1-4||7||1↑||9|
Climbing the Rankings
Our biggest gainer during the month was Nottingham Forest, who rode a 4-1-0 record from the middle of the pack to the top of the rankings and just behind West Bromwich Albion on the league table. While it hasn’t exactly been a murderer’s row of opponents – their opponents averaged 17th place in this month’s rankings, with Swansea City being the highest at 10. Still, they were the only club to win four times over the past month, and are currently tied for second (with three other clubs) with only nine goals allowed. The schedule over the next month is pretty favorable for Forest, and they should be favored in each of their next four matches against Wigan Athletic, Hull City, Reading, and Luton Town, leading to a match with our next big mover this month.
Derby County had the second largest climb this month, moving up seven spots after an undefeated month (2-3-0). Nothing was particularly remarkable about their month – their two wins were against clubs below them in the rankings, and a near win against bottom club Barnsley turned to a draw in the 94th minute – but they have turned it around after a poor start to the season. For a club that played in the playoff finals last season, the slow start was a little unexpected, but they appear to have turned it around, at least for now. I expect the strong play to continue for the next few weeks, as they don’t meet a club in the top five of our rankings until a 9 November match against Nottingham Forest. If they can garner seven or eight points by that match, they could find themselves back in the top six and playing for the playoffs again.
Not Good to Be Number 1
Our preseason number 1, Leeds United, lost twice during the month, and they were unexpected losses. First, they lost to Charlton Athletic, who has surprised on the young season after their promotion from League One after last season. Then, just before the break, they lost to Millwall, unable to hold on after going down a man 14 minutes into the match. Granted, both those losses were on the road, and they bookended a win against table-leading West Brom, but we have been disappointed in their recent performance for sure.
The club that knocked Leeds off the top spot on 31 August – Swansea City – had an even rougher go of it this month, as evidenced by their huge tumble down the rankings. The month was bookended by a couple of losses. The first loss wasn’t nearly as troubling, losing 1-0 to Nottingham Forest at home. But they closed the month with a loss, also at home, to formerly winless Stoke City. The Swans started the match out well enough, with Dede Ayew scoring in the first minute. But Stoke was able to equalize in the first half, and then managed to find a goal at the end of regulation in the second half, leaving with a 2-1 victory. Maybe the Swans can petition to play all their matches on the road for the time being, as Liberty Stadium has not been friendly to them this month, with all three visitors scoring in the last five minutes to either win or force the draw – as was the case for Reading in Swansea City’s other home match this month. The Swans are still in the playoff zone in the league table, and if they can turn things around, they should climb back up our power rankings as well, but not if they continue to lose to last place clubs.
Until next time…