The Championship is often described as one of the toughest football leagues in the world, any team can beat any team, and any team has a chance of winning the division. This season is no different with a side who are unbeaten in 21 games are not even leading division.
That team is Brighton, and their story is not unlike Chelsea but in the other direction. As most football fans continue to predict a Chelsea turnaround that has yet to arrive, many who follow something other than the EPL in UK Football will have thought Brighton would have lost by now. They haven’t, but their lack of turning 10 draws from 21 games into more wins has cost them first place, and others are catching up too. At almost the halfway point of the season, and just before the bumper Xmas-January football festival, it’s a great unexpected place for Brighton to be in. If the EPL is good enough for Bournemouth, then the Seagulls will be most welcome, and a great derby between them and Crystal Palace awaits. In a great piece of timing they welcome table toppers Middlesbrough for a top of the table clash.
Elsewhere , in a rarity, Ipswich Town are the most inform team from the last 6 games, and their visitors Derby County will determine whether Ipswich are genuine promotion or just temporarily avoiding mediocrity.
Brian McDermott returns to Reading following a recent trend of going back to managers who ended up not being that bad after all. That trend has happened through the lower divisions, with League One Burton Albion going back to Nigel Clough. When Clough left Burton last time they were just about guaranteed off a promotion to League Two from Non League for him to go to Derby with a bag full of points. This time around he’ll be building off the excellent start under Jimmy Floyd Hasselbank, and will hopefully get some of the kudos he missed last time.
Elsewhere Bolton still haven’t won a second game, and they have the equal worst form in the last 6 with managerless Fulham and surprisingly top 6 side Burnley. QPR will be ruing Charlie Austin coming into fitness and injuries before the Xmas period. But can’t see anyone paying 10M if they couldn’t in July.
League One Colchester have six straight losses and find themselves second last of 24 teams, but are still 2 short of this season’s record of 8 set by Barnsley. Good times ahead if they can break it, Barnsley have won 3 from 4 since breaking their duck.
Beleaguered Northampton show the best way to avoid off midfield trouble is to keep winning games. They lead the League Two after 5 in a row. Down the bottom, a scary gap has opened up between 3 teams, with the three bottom sides 6 points behind 21st.
BRIGHTON v MIDDLESBROUGH – Top O The Table clash between 2nd and 1st
IPSWICH v DERBY – Another Top 6 clash. Most in form Ipswich v Pre Season favourites Derby
CHAMPIONSHIP BEST BETS
NOTTINGHAM FOREST to beat Milton Keynes
BURNLEY to beat Charlton
BOLTON to beat Fulham
QPR to beat Bristol City
BRENTFORD to beat Huddersfield
$1 for $32
LEAGUE ONE BEST BETS
BURTON to beat Doncaster
MILLWALL to beat Gillingham
PETERBOROUGH to beat Blackpool
CREWE to beat Fleetwood
BRADFORD to beat Chesterfield
$1 for $52
LEAGUE TWO BEST BETS
LEYTON ORIENT to beat Yeovil
BARNET to beat Crawley
OXFORD to beat Wycombe
STEVENAGE to beat Accrington
NORTHAMPTON/DRAW v Portsmouth
$1 for $36