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Is this going to be the most open Championship season yet?

Crystal Palace Selhurst Park

As Bolton, Birmingham, Wolves, Forest and co falter; Huddersfield, Brighton, Crystal Palace, Millwall and Burnley overachieve the likes of Hull City, Middlesbrough, Leicester City, Cardiff City and Blackburn Rovers all seem to be on par. So where will this season take us?

Before the start of The Championship season many teams were backed to perform well and make an impact on the league. Lee Clark’s Birmingham City, Bolton Wanderers, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Nottingham Forest were four of such sides who currently find themselves off the pace. Meanwhile the likes of Huddersfield Town and Crystal Palace have really overachieved.

The league has so much depth right now and any number of teams could genuinely consider themselves as promotion candidates and even 15 games into proceedings when a shape should be starting to assemble there is little way of predicting the current campaigns final outcome.

The topsy-turvy nature of the league was highlighted once again last night. Cardiff City started the day top of the league but went down 5-4 to inconsistent Charlton Athletic at The Valley. Crystal Palace are looking like real contenders and their 5-0 thrashing of basement club Ipswich Town was another indication of the success at Selhurst Park.

Leicester City, Middlesbrough, Brighton and Blackpool were all expected to be in contention and indeed they are but this is among a list of potentially 18 teams that you would nod your head and go, yeah they could go up.

At the moment the gap from Blackburn Rovers in 6th down to Birmingham City in 18th is separated by just five points, hardly an insurmountable lead. In that cluster there are of course teams you expect to fall away; Millwall, Watford, Derby County maybe even Burnley yet last season you could have said a similar thing about eventual Championship winners Reading.

In the end last season turned out to be quite disappointing as Southampton, West Ham United and Reading cantered to the top three spots and each earned their rightful spot in the Barclays Premier League.

A lot will of course hinge on January as several teams will hope to hold on to big names coveted by Premier League rivals. Charlie Austin of Burnley, Tom Ince and Matty Phillips of Blackpool, Simon Gillet at Forest and perhaps most importantly Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace.

If either of these players move on it could spell curtains for promotion pushes at the end of the season.

Regardless to say The Championship gets more exciting every year and this season is shaping up early to be one of the best yet. The underachievement of some of the leagues bigger names has allowed some of the emerging forces and steady clubs to make an impression meaning at this moment in time we have potentially an 18 team race for just three promotion spots. Where will we be in another 15 games time?

What do you think of the Championship table after a third of games played?

images: © joncandy, © OliverN5

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