CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM OF THE SEASON (TO DATE)

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CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM OF THE SEASON (TO DATE)

Postby Sven » Tue Mar 24, 2020 1:59 am

No Cardiff City or West Brom men, the lone Swansea City star and Leeds United curiously ignored - the Championship team of the season




Tuesday 22nd March 2020


By Glen Williams


The best XI of the second tier has been compiled and there are some notable absences from the side


With the Championship suspended for the foreseeable future, it seems a good time to reflect on the campaign so far.

For Swansea City, they started off like a train, even enjoying some time at the top of the table during the early part of the season.

They have dropped off somewhat since then, but remain in the play-off hunt thanks to some gritty performances and timely results.

For Cardiff City, it has been something of a rollercoaster.

A lacklustre start following Premier League relegation saw Neil Warnock depart in November after a little over three years at the club.

Neil Harris took over and has steered the Bluebirds up the table and they now sit just two points off the top six, however much credit has been lumped on the stellar displays of Lee Tomlin.


There are nine games remaining but the coronavirus outbreak has put everything on hold until at least April 30 - and it could go way beyond that, with debates and negotiations to go on for the weeks and months ahead.

But, using player ratings from WhoScored - who use truck loads of data from Opta to rank each individual performance - we have compiled the best XI for the big chunk of the term we have already played.

Honourable mentions to Sean Morrison, who misses out by one hundredth of a mark, Dion Sanderson, who misses out by two hundredths and Joe Ralls and Lee Tomlin, who are omitted over six hundredths and eight hundredths respectively.

For the Swans, one player earns his place in the side, but Andre Ayew is just one hundredth of a mark of being named up top!

The two teams who have seemingly run away with the league - Leeds United and West Brom - are curiously overlooked in the large part. Just one Whites player makes the XI, while the Baggies are ignored altogether.

Marcelo Bielsa's Pablo Hernandez and Kalvin Phillips have courted much praise this term but don't make the cut.

Here, in a traditional 4-4-2, are the pick of the lot.

IN GOAL

Marek Rodak (Fulham, 6.8/10)

The Slovakia keeper has been with Fulham for seven years but has only caught the eye this season, really.

He spent the previous two campaigns on loan at Rotherham United, where he won promotion in 2018 and the player-of-the-year award despite the club being relegated in 2019.

The 23-year-old leapfrogged Marcus Bettinelli as first choice in October and has been a key man for Scott Parker ever since.


AT THE BACK

Matty Cash (Nottingham Forest, 7.2)

The 22-year-old has been converted to right-back by Sabri Lamouchi, but has not lost any of his attacking threat.

Cash has contributed three goals and four assists and has been a mainstay for the impressive Forest this season.

NottinghamshireLive reported earlier this week: “Prior to the start of the season Cash was valued at £3.6m, but that figure has increased by a half and now stands at £5.4m.

“Cash was the reportedly being targeted by other clubs during the January transfer window, with Everton, West Ham, Southampton and AC Milan credited with an interest in the Nigel Doughty academy graduate.

“He signed a new contract at the City Ground in November which runs until the summer of 2023, and looks set to be a key for the Reds for the foreseeable future.”



Kristian Pedersen (Birmingham City, 7.2)

Signed by Garry Monk from Union Berlin for an undisclosed fee in 2018, the 25-year-old has been a solid performer for the Blues this season.

It is at left-back in a flat back four where we have seen him at his best this season, though, and as such Premier League outfit Watford reportedly came sniffing..

BirminghamLive report: “The resulting displays prompted interest from top-flight Watford in the January transfer window.

“Pedersen, who claimed he was aware of such interest from the Hornets, says he hopes to be playing among the elite of English football sometime soon as he hopes to continue pushing for a place in Denmark’s international set-up.”



Shaun Hutchinson (Millwall, 7.4)

A Millwall stalwart who was brought in by Bluebirds boss Neil Harris in 2016, when the player was released by Fulham.

The 29-year-old has chipped in with five goals this season – but it’s been his work at the back that has earned him the lion's share of praise.

“Hutch is a player we’ve seen over the years. You come in and realise he’s better on the ball than we thought he was, more mobile than we thought he was," Lions boss Gary Rowett said.

“One-v-one, defensively, he’s probably as good as anyone in the squad. He’s a really good defender, he shows that every day in training. He’s got a great attitude, he’s very popular with the lads as well.”


Luke Ayling (Leeds United, 7.4)

Ayling, with that distinctive pony-tail hairdo, has been used both at right-back and centre-half by Leeds this season.

His solid performances have been recognised, too, having been nominated twice for PFA Championship player of the month.

Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa said: “He’s a player who can go from box to box in a few seconds and it’s easy for him to do it. After he finished defending he thinks immediately to attack.

"He links this distance from defence to attack and it seems like it’s not difficult for him to do it. He does this during all the match and a lot of times.”



IN THE MIDDLE

Jed Wallace (Millwall, 7.4)

Another Harris acquisition at Millwall, the 25-year-old winger has netted 10 times to aid Gary Rowett's play-off push.

The former Portsmouth forward joined from Wolves in 2016, having enjoyed two successful loan spells at The Den before making the deal permanent the following year.


Matt Grimes (Swansea, 7.1)

Joined Swansea City from Exeter in 2015 and has come to the fore as a ball-playing central midfielder under Graham Potter and Steve Cooper.

When the skipper is at it, Swansea are like a well-oiled machine and Grimes is central to that.

He keeps a level head on this relatively youthful side and is a fitting inclusion in this composite XI. The only representation from South Wales.


Eberechi Eze (QPR, 7.5)

One player who has stood out for large parts of the season. A mercurial playmaker and destroyer of defences.

He has attracted the eyes of Premier League clubs, namely Tottenham, in recent months, and rightly so given the consistent level of his performances.

“He’s a very talented boy,” said QPR boss Mark Warburton. “He’s working and learning every single day and long may that continue.”

Football.London add: “The 21-year-old attacking midfielder is extremely comfortable on the ball – and very difficult to get off it when he’s in possession.”


Said Benrahma (Brentford, 7.4)

The 24-year-old winger has been linked with both Leicester and Arsenal this season and it is easy to see why.

He is such a dangerous proposition in front of goal and can create and score in equal measure, a shoo-in to any Championship side.

He has been a major figure in Brentford’s bid for promotion this season and they will have a job on their hands to keep hold of him if they don't get elevated to the top flight.

“I am happy (at Brentford), I play, I score, I win, it’s a good position so I am happy," he said. "For the moment I am here.

“My ambition is to play in the Premier League. That’s my first ambition. It’s the first step and then continue to progress,” he added.

“If I go into the Premier League God willing with Brentford or…. I don’t know but my ambition is Premier League.”



UP FRONT

Ollie Watkins (Brentford, 7.3)

Watkins was converted from winger to centre-forward, following the departure of Neal Maupay to Brighton, and it is fair to say he has grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

The 24-year-old, who arrived for £1.8m from Exeter in 2017, looks an incredibly shrewd signing and another who will not be short of suitors following the season's end.

He has scored 22 goals in 38 appearances this season, spearheading the bright Bees attack.

He said: “(Brentford) tried to sign strikers and it fell through, but everything happens for a reason and I was obviously meant to play this season up front. I’m glad I’ve got the opportunity and I’m really enjoying it.

“I was really close to Dean (Smith), he had great faith in me. He always thought I’d end up as a number nine. This season, everyone was doubting whether I could score that many goals but I back myself: if you get a chance every other game, you are going to score at least 20 goals.”



Lukas Jutkiewicz (Birmingham, 7.3)

A veteran campaigner at this level who continues to show just what he has got in the locker, having scored 13 goals this season

BirminghamLive report: “During interviews, Jutkiewicz claims it’s the result that matters – but he’s counting his goals too, don’t worry about that.

Indeed during his post-match chat with local radio he queried the suggestion he’d got 43 for Blues, contended he is actually on 45, pulled out his phone from his pocket, checked his notes – and conceded the point.

“Jutkiewicz is close to joining an exclusive group of players to have scored 50 times for the club and he’ll know exactly when he does so.”
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CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM OF THE SEASON (TO DATE)

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