Brighton cruelly lost out on goal difference last season but an impressive follow up has seen Chris Hughton’s team join Newcastle in stretching away from the competition in the opening 16 Championship games.
Early season it is always going to be difficult to determine anything but the past month has maybe seen the shake up of contenders from pretenders.
As early adrenaline disperses, the clubs with real relative quality and strength to their squads, should start and make the advantage tell.
In the summer Brighton resisted all offers for their star players, including Newcastle’s approaches for Anthony Knockaert and Lewis Dunk, with the owners determined to maintain their attempts to get into the Premier League.
The Championship table now looking like this, as the latest international break intervenes (number of points before each club):
37 Newcastle United
The past six matches have seen these four clubs produce the best return:
18 Newcastle (6 wins)
16 Brighton (5 wins, 1 draw)
13 Preston (4 wins, 1 draw, 1 loss)
13 Leeds (4 wins, 1 draw, 1 loss)
As you can see, Newcastle & Brighton showing by far the best form and the next best being two new Championship clubs showing improved displays.
As an aside, with five wins out of five in October, surely Rafa Benitez is a certainty for Championship manager of the month for October, Chris Hughton the only possible rival with four wins and a draw.
It is though interesting to also take a look at the clubs who were measuring up to be Newcastle’s (and Brighton’s) biggest competition this season.
As you can see, none of them have done better than 8 points from the last 18 and all have only won two matches each. Norwich especially look in danger of imploding at the moment after losing their last three games.
Points won and results in last six games:
8 Birmingham (2 wins, 2 draws, 2 losses)
7 Bristol City (2 wins, 1 draw, 3 losses)
7 Sheffield Wednesday (2 wins, 1 draw, 3 losses)
7 Huddersfield (2 wins, 1 draw, 3 losses)
7 Norwich (2 wins, 1 draw, 3 losses)
After a perfect October (and win against Cardiff on Saturday), Newcastle have stretched eight points clear of third and 11 ahead of sixth, maintaining this consistency for the next five or six matches would see United in a seriously good position by Christmas.