What can be learnt from matchday 17 of the Championship?
Derby are living up to their pre-season expectations
The Rams once again lead the Championship promotion race, having defeated fellow Premier League chasers Wolves 5-0 on Saturday. A remarkable result given the strong performances put in by the Wolves defence in the opening stages of the season, but it is the game that has surely cemented Derby’s position as favourites to claim the title after a some early season problems. Despite two of their three total losses coming in the last four games, Steve McClaren has returned stylish football to the iPro Stadium, and goals are being provided from all over the pitch - with leading scorer Chris Martin failing to get on the scoresheet in the 5-0 victory. Their first game after the international break is at promotion rivals Watford, and picking up three points could see the Rams start to separate from the rest of the chasing pack.
Brentford can finally hope for promotion
Two goals from Andre Gray and a Danny Shittu own-goal gave Brentford the result needed to move into the play-off places for the first time since the league has taken shape this season, and to within just four points of leading side Derby. Despite only achieving promotion from League One last season, the Bees have won an incredible tally of eight of their 17 games, and their high-intensity performances have shocked opponents when facing them. They have defeated Derby and Nottingham Forest - two clubs also searching for promotion - and they look well set to continue their run at the close of the international break.
Ipswich have their defence to thank for good form
Ipswich moved into fourth place after a scrappy 1-0 victory at home to Watford on Saturday, with a goal from Tommy Smith rewarding the Tractor Boys with all three points inside the final 10 minutes. Mick McCarthy has done an impressive job at Portman Road, creating a promotion fighting club with little transfer budget, and utilising the strengths of his playing side to the best effect. The most direct team in the Championship, they play football that is tough to enjoy, but just three defeats this season - and the second best defence in the division - proves that the Tractor Boys can seriously fight for the Premier League this term. The goalscoring of Daryl Murphy has helped the club to their position, but it is the defensive partnership of Christophe Berra and Tommy Smith which has lifted the club, netting six goals between them and outperforming all-but a select few of other defenders in the league.
Leeds can finally look upwards after first win in nine
Neil Redfearn set Leeds up for the perfect international break, clinching the first win of his permanent reign at Elland Road against bottom club Blackpool. The performances of Alex Mowatt, Lewis Cook and Liam Cooper have been a revelation since Redfearn’s appointment, and he appears to have revitalised a number of the fatigued foreign stars in the first-team set-up, including Souleymane Doukara and Mirco Antenucci - who both netted goals in the 3-1 victory. Work still needs to be done if the Whites want to have any hope of achieving promotion this season, but the signs are starting to finally looking positive this season - and it may just live up to all the promise it held over the summer.
Uwe Rosler should fear for his Wigan future
Wigan lost their seventh game of the season on Friday night, falling 3-1 to a rejuvenated Bolton side who overtook them in the Championship table. The Latics have suffered following a number of high-profile departures over the summer, and their troubles in front of goal have seen them pick up just 16 points from 17 games - leaving them in the relegation places. Chairman Dave Whelan has backed head coach Uwe Rosler to succeed - with the German coach leading them to the play-off semi-finals last season - but if results do not pick up quickly after the international break he should start to fear for his career at the DW Stadium. The Latics have won just one game in their last 12 fixtures, and a continuing run of form like this could see the side leave the Championship - in the wrong direction.