Dark Horse Chronicles – Birmingham City

This week’s Darkhorse Chronicles takes us back to the EFL Championship where we take a look at Birmingham City, a club that’s shown substantial improvement over last season. They finished last season in 19th place and so far they’ve made a substantial improvement this season where they reside in 10th.

Birmingham City’s last outing in the Premier League was in 2007-2008 although they were unable to stave off relegation. They were 1 point short of staying up, had they managed 1 more point it would have been Fulham sent down instead of them. Their goal difference was 6 better than Fulham, and stayed up on a 1-0 win over Portsmouth on the final Matchday.

If Birmingham are able to keep up this pace they’d finish with just over 66 points on the season, which would have had them in 11th place last season. This would be a nice change for the Blues, who have finish consecutive seasons in 19th place. This would also have them on pace for 57 goals and 49 concessions, finishing the season +8 on goal differential. If their end result is anywhere near our projections it’s a dramatic improvement. In 2016-2017, Birmingham scored 45 and conceded 64 for a goal differential of -19 which while not ideal by any means, was the better of the years. 2017-2018 had the scoring only 38 and conceding 68 for a goal differential of -30. They’ve done pretty well against the top teams in the league so far, with only a loss to Leeds United.

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Dark Horse Chronicles – Borussia Mönchengladbach

After a brief visit to the Premier League, we’re going to take another trip back across the English Channel, this time to Germany. Our Darkhorse of the week is Bundesliga club Borussia Mönchengladbach (Gladbach for short), who get this honor based on their performance this year over last year.

Gladbach is one of the most storied German programs of all time, and during the 1970s Gladbach won 5 Bundesliga titles and finished runner up twice more. During this span they also won the UEFA Cup for the 1974-1975 and 1978-1979 seasons, finishing as runners up two more times. They’ve also had two European Player of the Year selections in Igor Belanov (1986) and Allan Simonsen (1977). They’ve also had players selected as the nationality player of the year (i.e. Kasey Keller, USA Player of the year 1997, 1999, and 2005) on numerous occasions.

More recently, they were relegated from the Bundesliga in 2006-2007, although they won promotion the following season. They’ve stayed in the Bundesliga since and under the Lucien Favre years 2011-2015 (now the Dortmund head coach/manager) the Foals had success until the last portion of his tenure where after a string of successive losses, Favre resigned. Favre’s replacement, Schubert, got the Foals back to the Champions League, however, he too would resign the following season after struggling mightily. Dieter Hecking was appointed as Gladbach’s newest manager in January 2017.

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Dark Horse Chronicles – Chelsea

After a two-week hiatus we make our way back to the Premier League. This week’s Darkhorse is Chelsea, who I’m sure will have many of you perplexed. However, I would like to remind you that Chelsea’s recent form has been less than stellar. In the 2017-2018 series they finished 5th placed almost 30 points beneath eventual-winners Manchester City. In the 2015-2016 Chelsea barely made the top half finishing in 10th place finishing 31 points below Leicester City’s win. Chelsea has made it a habit of seemingly coming from nowhere and taking the win, as they showed with their 10th to 1st place 2016-2017 before falling again. Chelsea’s recent form has indicated that every 4-5 years they manage a title, so we are getting close to their return to form.

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Dark Horse Chronicles – Sheffield United

We’re going to another Championship side this week in Sheffield United. We did one of their rivals, Sheff Wed, last week so it seems only fitting to cover the other side of the rivalry also. Plus, Sheff United have been performing above expectations also!
Sheff United has had a very similar spell of dominance, after being promoted from League One for the 2017-2018 season where they secured a 10th place finish. Currently, they are first in the Championship. Based on the season they’ve had so far, if they are able to keep this form up, they’d finish with around 96 points, which should basically assure them Premier League football next year. This means that they, like Sheff Wed, would have increased their points total by almost 30 points year over year. They are on pace to score about 80 goals, to concede about roughly ending the year with an +30 goal differential. They’ve had 3 losses so far this season, one to a top 5 team — and the other 2 to midtable teams.

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Bonus: Catching up with Our Dark Horses Thus Far

Here’s how our Darkhorse Teams have fared since we featured them! La Liga: Celta Vigo – Currently, Celta Vigo is suffering from a winless streak in their last 5 games, including a loss to Girona (15th) and to Sevilla (1st). Despite their poor form in the last 5 games, salvaging only 3 points from their … Read moreBonus: Catching up with Our Dark Horses Thus Far

Dark Horse Chronicles – Sheffield Wednesday

This week we’re taking a step back from the Premier League and looking at a Championship side, Sheffield Wednesday.
Sheffield Wednesday (Sheff Wed) is a unique case, because unlike all the other clubs we’ve featured, they have no transfer activity.  In fact, the only transfers into the club’s first team (aside from youth promotions) were two loans; one from Tottenham, Josh Onomah, and Chelsea’s Michael Hector.
If they are able to maintain the pace they are currently on (12/46 games played) they would be on track to outpace their points total from last year by close to 30 points. Last year they finished with 57 points (15th place), but are so far on track to attain 73 points which would have put them in 7th place.
What has changed?

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