Peach’s Championship Round-up – GW 20

It's been another standard gameweek in the Championship. Justin Peach of the Second Tier Podcasts joins us with another round-up as he deciphers all the key action and talking points...

Justin Peach

A Championship weekend with just one 0-0 draw? Oh, we are being treated!

With Millwall-Hull serving up the only goalless game, we had plenty to digest as the table grew ever tighter.

After this weekend’s results, it meant the gap between Reading in 12th and West Brom in 22nd was just six points, which could easily swing once again as we approach a busy week of games.

And plenty of teams have hit a patch of inconsistency, which is why the Championship is as competitive as ever.

So here’s a short round-up of some key points and some players who dazzled during the latest game week…

Pulsating top-of-the-table clash

If there was ever a reason to ensure Sky Sports continues to have a full serving of EFL action, it was the Sheffield United-Burnley game.

The top-of-the-table clash did not disappoint as it served up seven goals of the highest order.

Burnley edged the first half and it felt like they were cruising after an impressive display saw them head into the interval 2-1 up.

Manuel Benson was once again in scintillating form and Sheffield United were shaken by the Clarets’ first-half intensity.

Then the second half was breathtaking if you even managed to breathe!

It was so one-sided it was bordering on unfair, but the credit to the Blades who put Burnley to the sword.

Aggression, intensity, physicality. It was all present as Paul Heckingbottom’s side made their experience and physical advantage count as they peppered the team top of the league.

It told us plenty as well. Burnley have more work to do if they are to maintain their promotion push and Sheffield United should not be written off.

Preston find themselves in playoff contention

With a bonkers game in Yorkshire, it would be easy to forget Preston moving into play-off contention.

Ryan Lowe’s side moved into the top six having won their last three games and have been well worth their push.

It feels almost surprising to run your eyes down the league and find North End in the top six as they haven’t yet pulled up any trees.

Perhaps a testament to Lowe achieving more than many thought after a below-par summer transfer window and strange start.

There are issues – such as scoring goals – but they create chances regularly and have a young side that can grow into the season and, should Lowe get some backing in January, they could be a dark horse for the playoffs.

QPR hit a bump

Since Michael Beale turned the Wolves job down, QPR’s form has dropped.

Granted, they beat Wigan shortly after in what was an uninspiring display.

However, they have now failed to score in their last three games and with injuries mounting up, Beale will be hoping to get to the World Cup break at least within punching distance of the top six.

It’s important to point out that QPR have over-achieved so far this season and they will improve as the months’ progress.

But this run of form highlights the shortcomings within the squad and the need to recruit several new faces to bolster the squad to ensure they can sustain a promotion push.

If not, it’s hard to see them pushing on this season.

Star performers:

Oli McBurnie

This man was possessed against Burnley and a key reason as to why they overcame their 2-1 deficit.

Firstly, he scored the equaliser just three minutes into the second half which is a huge help. But his work off the ball will be overshadowed by the fact he grabbed two goals and an assist.

He was aggressive, he drove with the ball into good areas, he rattled an inexperienced Burnley backline and made their lives so uncomfortable which allowed Ndiaye to thrive.

He’s the perfect strike partner and well on his way to being in contention for the Championship golden boot having scored his 8th and 9th goals of the season so far.

Tom Lockyer

When you talk about bodies on the line, it can be quite hard to picture.

However, Lockyer gave the perfect ‘bodies on the line’ performance in Luton’s 1-0 win over Blackpool.

Luton were not at their best and had to weather a number of attacks from Blackpool with them having Lockyer to thank for helping them onto three points.

The Welsh international won four headers and made 16 clearances in a man-of-the-match display.

Not only that, but he cleared two shots off the line, one with his groin ensuring his teammates all owe him a drink after almost carrying the side to three points.

Kyle Bartley

Talk about redemption.

Bartley has come under some heavy criticism from West Brom supporters after a series of lacklustre displays but the experienced defender was back to his best in the win over QPR.

The Baggies were rigid and difficult to break down with Bartley being the centre of that using his experienced and leadership to keep his team organised.

Not only that, but he scored the winner and kept a second clean sheet in a row which will no doubt boost the confidence of himself, his teammates and supporters.

He’s always been a reliable performer and can easily get back to his best under a coach who enjoys the defensive side of the game.

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