The EFL Championship 2019/20 season got underway in dramatic fashion – with Luton and Middlesbrough sharing six goals in a 3-3 thriller, including a missed Boro penalty, that did nothing but set the tone for not just the weekend, but the season ahead in, arguably, the most, pound for pound, competitive domestic division in the world.
Welcome to the madness of the Championship.
Once Derby County had secured their 1-2 victory over Huddersfield Town on Monday night, all teams had played their first game of the season. Whilst the table is meaningless right now, there were still plenty of pointers and things to be gleaned from the first set of games – here, we take a look at some of the biggest aspects to be taken from the first round of games in the Championship.
ON ANY GIVEN DAY……..
In our Championship preview piece, we commented that such is the competitive nature of the Championship, that on any given day, any team can beat any opponent – no matter the size, stature, reputation or name of the clubs involved. The first round of Championship results proved just that.
Barnsley, promoted from Division One, faced up to Fulham, relegated from the Premier League and big spenders over the summer, whilst retaining many of their Premier League squad – and sent them back to London with a defeat. Wigan Athletic hosted Cardiff City…were 1-0 down, missed a penalty – but still came back to win 3-2 and send Neil Warnock’s men home with a loss. The loss by Huddersfield to Derby meant all three relegated Premier League clubs suffered an opening round loss.
Not just that, but with Charlton winning away at Blackburn, it meant all three promoted clubs went unbeaten on the opening weekend.
QPR raised a few eyebrows by beating Stoke City away, whilst much fancied Brentford also suffered a home loss to Birmingham City – all of these results absolute coupon busters for the thousands of footie fans finally able to have a little flutter on English domestic football again.
LEEDS UNITED MAKE A STATEMENT OF INTENT
The Sunday Championship game was a tasty looking fixture at Ashton Gate, where Bristol City, many peoples tip for a play off berth, welcomed Leeds United – pre season favourites to win the Championship. It looked to be a close, exciting game on paper – but Leeds delivered a virtuoso performance, winning 1-3 – with the final scoreline looking every inch as comfortable for Leeds as the game was. The game was over by the time Andreas Weimann netted for the Robins in the 79th minute – goals from Jack Harrison, Patrick Bamford and initially from the uber impressive Pablo Hernandez had given Leeds a 3-0 lead they fully deserved. The result will have delighted the Leeds massive and manager Marcelo Bielsa in itself – but the performance will be of even more delight for all at Elland Road – the other 19 Championship teams put very much on notice that on this performance, Leeds already look the team to beat. Early days of course….but they could not have done much more than they did.
AWAY DAY DELIGHT FOR TRAVELLING FANS
Of the twelve Championship games across the four opening weekend days worth of fixtures, only four ended up as home wins. Only the Luton v Middlesbrough game was drawn – meaning seven teams enjoyed away day victories – giving their travelling fans plenty to celebrate on their journeys home. Goals were not at a premium either – every team bar two (Fulham and Preston North End) got on the scoresheet, with 37 goals scored across the 12 games – an average of just over 3 goals per game.
A SIGN OF THINGS TO COME
Magnificent individual and team goals, superb performances, thrilling games, dramatic action and results that Mystic Meg couldn’t see coming….that’s the Championship. This was just the first weekend’s worth of games…but this is how the Championship rolls every week. This division may not have the riches of its illustrious higher level flight, where all teams ultimately want to be, but when you can throw a blanket, pretty much, over all 24 teams and not know from one week to the next what’s going to happen, its a huge reason why many fans up and down the country, love the excitement and unpredictability of the Championship – and maybe prefer being there (money apart!) than scrabbling around for 36 odd points in the top flight. In ground atmospheres are electric as fans know that every result and scoreline is possible whichever two teams are playing. Premier League for dough…but, for us, its the Championship for show!
2019/20 CHAMPIONSHIP – RESULTS FROM THE FIRST WEEKEND
- Luton Town 3 – 3 Middlesbrough
- Barnsley 1 – 0 Fulham
- Blackburn Rovers 1 – 2 Charlton Athletic
- Brentford 0 – 1 Birmingham City
- Millwall 1 – 0 Preston North End
- Reading 1 – 3 Sheffield Wednesday
- Stoke City 1 – 2 Queens Park Rangers
- Swansea City 2 – 1 Hull City
- Wigan Athletic 3 – 2 Cardiff City
- Nottingham Forest 1 – 2 West Bromwich Albion
- Bristol City 1 – 3 Leeds United
- Huddersfield Town 1 – 2 Derby County