The Championship can be a bit of a roller-coaster. From top to second, back to top then down to third in the space of two weeks. It’s close up the top and there is undoubtedly some decent football being played. Leeds United’s weekend off gave our rivals an opportunity to steal a march and without exception they took it; Sheffield United and Norwich both won four nil and West Brom beat their local rivals Aston Villa two nil. Such empathic victories for our rivals makes you question where we stack up against them, especially given our recent form. Are we the best team in the Championship?
There is good evidence to suggest that overall we are the best team in the league. Not individually, but as a collective group. Our style of play at our best is the most effective in the league, we take care of the ball better than anyone, we have the most possession and second best passing accuracy. We are the best side when it comes to limiting the opposition, we concede the fewest shooting opportunities per game in the league, we have all season. We are the only side to be in single figures in that respect.
We are not doing any of this through last gasp efforts in the final third, we are second from bottom in terms of shots blocked and bottom for crosses blocked but second for passes blocked and first for tackles per game. That suggests that more often than not we are winning the ball back further up the pitch and are not having to resort so much to last ditch blocks.
We are top for shots per game, our style of play it isn’t just passing for the sake of it, we are creating shooting chances. Clearly there is an issue either in our shot selection or our accuracy, as we don’t convert a high percentage of those chances, but that’s an individual thing not a team thing. We are third however for shots on target per game so there is a degree of accuracy although Norwich are top with less shots per game and they have scored more goals.
We are first for short passes per game, but also only twenty-first for long balls per game but joint second for crosses, so it seems we do move the ball to the flanks quickly to create opportunities but we don’t loft it forward for the sake of it. Leeds, Norwich and Sheffield United have been the most attractive sides to watch this season, not much in it but our style is the most attractive and we have done it all season. Norwich have been less consistent but certainly more clinical. West Brom similarly but they have premiership class finishers. Sheff Utd have ridden Billy Sharp's superb season.
What has let us down more often than not are individuals, there has rarely been anything wrong with our approach play, our football most of the time has been very good, defensively largely solid, but individuals have been our downfall, sending offs, poor chance conversion, poor goalkeeping and just plain bad luck (Three deflected shots falling exactly where the opposition would want for example and a wonder strike from Adam Reach), its rarely been a flaw in our play, it’s just been down to individual quality or luck.
So are we the best team? At the moment our league position would suggest not, but one team has been in the playoffs all season, one team has spent the most time in the top two, it’s Leeds United.
Content by Cjay from our Are we the best team? discussion thread.
Are Leeds United the best team in the Championship?