Teams are often accused of raising their game against quality opponents, only to throw points away against beatable opposition. Barnsley were last season’s main offenders in this department, winning 32 points against teams in the top half, but only 22 against teams in the bottom half.
Ashton Gate was the place to see goals last season. A total of 72 were scored. Matches included 4-2 and 5-3 home wins over Preston North End and Barnsley but also saw 6-0 and 5-2 defeats at the hands of Cardiff City and Doncaster Rovers.
Despite a good start, Burnley were unable to maintain their momentum and eventually conceded 82 goals in their only Premier League campaign. Only Derby County (89) have conceded more goals in a 38-game Premier league season. Some work for Brian Laws to do at the back, then.
Of the sides that didn’t get promoted, Cardiff managed the most away wins (10). One of these was a 6-0 demolition of Bristol City, the biggest away win in the Championship since Southampton beat Wolves at Molineux by the same score in March 2007. City also hit the woodwork on 27 occasions, more than any other Championship side last season.
Coventry are nothing if not tediously predictable. In the last four seasons the Sky Blues have collected 54, 54, 53 and 56 points. At home they have won 8 matches in each of the last three seasons, scoring 27, 26 and 25 goals in the process. Coventry have also failed to achieve a positive goal difference in any of the last six seasons.
Palace neither soared to dizzying statistical heights nor stooped to depressing mathematical lows, but in Alan Lee they did have a player who was substituted 22 times. No Championship played was replaced more often, though Radoslaw Majewski and Paul Anderson of Nottingham Forest both were substituted as often.
42 players were used by Derby manager Nigel Clough last season, more than any other Championship side. Only 5 outfield players started more than 30 games and just one, Robbie Savage, managed to appear in every league game.
Rovers’ were last season’s nice guys, committing just 405 fouls (8.8 per game) and receiving only 39 yellow cards. Perhaps the loss of Ritchie Wellens had something to do with it…
Since 13th December 2008 Hull City have won just 7 of 60 league matches. In that time they’ve scored 49 goals and conceded 114. If any team need to remember how to win it’s the Tigers.
Roy Keane’s side drew more matches than any other Championship side last season, 20 in all. 11 of them finished 1-1, a feat only ‘bettered’ by Crystal Palace for whom 12 games finished one each. Eight draws came in Ipswich’s dismal start to the season -14 matches without a win would prove to be the longest such run of the Championship campaign. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Ipswich only won half of the matches in which they kept a clean sheet, a Championship low in 2009/10.
United finally achieved promotion from League One at the third attempt despite only winning seven on their final 19 league games. In fact if the season had started on 1st February, Leeds would have finished 10th. Leeds will need to recover their form from 2009 (P46 W32 D8 L6 F83 A31 Pts104) to ensure they make an impact in the Championship.
No side was safer with a one-goal lead than Leicester in 2009/10. City won 14 games by a single goal, more than any other Championship side. More worryingly, they failed to win a single away match by more than a one goal last season.
Gordon Strachan’s side might be favourites for the title, but they’ll need to do much better against sides in the top 10 to merit that backing. Last season Boro’ won just two of their 20 matches against teams that finished above them, and won only two points against the top six all season.
The Lions recovered from 9th position on Boxing Day 2009 to almost snatch an automatic promotion place to the Championship. In the second half of the season Millwall won 52 points, losing only 3 games and conceding just 15 goals. Few should be looking forward to a trip to the New Den.
Another side in the winning habit is Norwich. Their 29 wins in 2009/10 was the highest win total in League One since Luton Town’s promotion in 2004/05. By comparison, Leicester managed 27 wins when they ran away with League One in 2008/09.
Billy Davies’ side were ruthless at home, especially against sides in the bottom half. Forest won 11 of their 12 home matches against sides who finished in the wrong half of the table, scoring 29 and conceding just 7. These wins contributed to Forest’s 19 matches without defeat (a run which coincided with 12 successive home wins and 8 consecutive home clean sheets), the longest such sequence since Reading’s 33-match unbeaten run in 2005/06. Forest also had the season’s longest undefeated away run (13 matches).
Pompey only won 18 points at home last season, the lowest total in the Premier League last season. Portsmouth also lost the most games by a single goal (13) and suffered more 1-0 defeats (7) than any other Premier league club.
Preston North End
Preston fans haven’t seen their side relegated in 18 seasons. PNE are the Championship’s longest serving tenants and have failed to gain promotion through the play-offs four times in the last 10 years, twice having made it to the final.
Queens Park Rangers
Between 30th September and 5th April QPR didn’t manage a single clean sheet in 17 away games, the worst such run since Colchester United and Southampton both conceded goals in 21 consecutive away matches in 2007/08. During QPR’s barren away spell they failed to score on 9 occasions. Whatever else Neil Warnock needs to improve, Rangers’ away form certainly needs some work.
The Royals were last season’s late bloomers, winning 40 points from their final 20 games having taken just 23 points from their first 26 matches. If they continue in that sort of form the will be in danger of breaking their own Championship points record (106).
The Iron conceded 84 goals last season, the most for a side avoiding relegation from the Championship since Barnsley’s net rippled 85 times in 2006/07. On 13 occasions (11 away from home) Scunthorpe conceded 3 or more goals. Thanks to their lax defending Scunthorpe matches averaged 3.17 goals per game, the highest in the Championship. Conceding 11 penalties (another Championship high) and having 7 players dismissed (a record shared with QPR) can’t have helped much.
Kevin Blackwell’s men committed 627 fouls and received 86 yellow cards, the former was the highest foul count in the Championship in 2009/10.
With just 40 goals to their name, Swansea’s strike record was the worst in the Championship. Just 7.43% of Swansea’s attempts on goal found the net, the lowest chance conversion rate in the division. Matches at The Liberty Stadium averaged a measly 1.43 goals per game.
Hornets fans should know better than to leave a game early, 16 goals (12.4%) in Watford matches last season came in the last 5 minutes.