Here, for the third month running, is a screenshot taken from the BBC website showing the top of the Championship, the second tier of English football. Like the previous two examples this one shows Leeds United (the team I have followed since the 1960s) top of the table and Norwich in second place.
I wanted another up-to-date graphic, a visual reminder of Leeds leading the Championship right now, in the middle of February 2019. I do not expect the team to be top tonight. Leeds do not play again until next weekend, and both Norwich and Sheffield United can overtake them in their fixtures later today. If Norwich avoid defeat at Bolton they will do so, and so will Sheffield United if they win at home to Reading.
Leeds are top this morning because the mid-week results went better than I dared to hope: a home win against Swansea while Norwich were losing at Preston. Leeds started the game 2 points behind Norwich in second place, with an inferior goal difference. With 5 minutes to go the teams were level on goal difference. Leeds were 2-0 up and Norwich were 3-0 down but late goals (a penalty by Swansea and a consolation for Norwich) left us with final scores of 2-1 and 3-1. Norwich, now a point behind Leeds, still have a superior goal difference.
Back in December I reflected on goal difference in this piece (the first to feature a screenshot from the BBC website). At the time the Championship was evenly split: half of the teams had a positive goal difference and half had a negative goal difference. In the Premier League only 6 of the 20 teams had a positive goal difference. There is now an anomaly at the top of the Championship. As the graphic above shows, the goal difference for the top 4 teams is in reverse order. You might expect the team at the top to have a better goal difference than everyone else but that is not the case. West Brom (4th in the table) have the best goal difference (+22), followed by the team in 3rd place (Sheffield United, +20), then Norwich in 2nd (+19) and then Leeds (top of the table but with a goal difference of +17).
Last month’s graphic showing the top of the Championship was in this piece about 2 points per game. It noted that, up to January 2019, no teams in the division were averaging 2 points per game. That is still the case. If Leeds had won their next two fixtures, they would have managed it (60 points from 30 games) but that didn’t happen: Norwich won 3-1 at Elland Road earlier this month (on Saturday 2 February).
Leeds currently have 61 points from 32 games and would have to win the next three fixtures to average 2 points per game (70 points from 35 games). The rest of this piece lists how many successive games each of the Championship’s Top 7 teams would need to win to average 2 points per game. There are not enough games left in the season for Birmingham, in 8th place, to average 2 points per game.
- Leeds would have to win 3 successive games to average 2 points per game (70 points from 35 games).
- Norwich would have to win 4 successive games to average 2 points per game (72 points from 36 games).
- Sheffield United would have to win 6 successive games to average 2 points per game (76 points from 38 games).
- West Brom would have to win 8 successive games to average 2 points per game (78 points from 39 games).
- Bristol City would have to win 9 successive games to average 2 points per game (80 points from 40 games).
- Middlesbrough would have to win 11 successive games to average 2 points per game (84 points from 42 games).
- Derby would have to win 11 successive games to average 2 points per game (84 points from 42 games).
Without a Leeds game to follow this weekend, this is the sort of thing that is occupying my mind.