‘The most wonderful time of the year’: ten takeaways from the festive fixtures in the EFL

‘The most wonderful time of the year’: ten takeaways from the festive fixtures in the EFL

#1 There really is no stopping Vincent Kompany’s Burnley. The Clarets racked up three more wins over the festive period; taking them five points clear of Sheffield United and 14 points clear of Blackburn in 3rd. There may be twenty games left in the Championship season, but it feels like the Turf Moor club are as good as up already.

#2 Away from Burnley, Middlesbrough and West Brom are fast becoming the ones to watch in the Championship. Boro have gone from 21st to 5th under Michael Carrick. They’ve won seven of his ten games in charge, including six of the last seven. The Teesiders also possess the top scorer in the Championship. Chuba Akpom has taken his tally for the season to 13; nine of which have come since Carrick took the reins. Meanwhile, West Brom have won eight of Carlos Corberan’s first ten games at the helm; keeping seven clean sheets in the process. Despite their dreadful start to the season, the Baggies are now just one point off the play-off places.

#3 Rob Edwards is another new manager who has made a positive start to life at his new club. Luton are the fourth Championship team to win all three of their games over the holiday season. After losing Edwards’ first game in charge to Middlesbrough, the Hatters have picked up impressive wins over Norwich, QPR and Huddersfield. Nathan who?

#4 At the other end of the spectrum, Birmingham and Wigan suffered three defeats over Christmas and New Year. While John Eustace’s Blues still have a sufficient gap between themselves and the bottom three, Kolo Toure’s Wigan are bottom of the league. Since drawing the Ivorian’s first game in charge, Wigan have lost their last four league games.

#5 In League One, those people waiting for Plymouth Argyle to ‘fall away’ will have to wait a little longer. Argyle’s 100% record over the festive period has seen them move six points clear of the previous leaders, Ipswich Town. Kieran McKenna’s side beat Oxford 3-0 on Boxing Day, but they’ve since been held by Portsmouth and Lincoln.

#6 Sheffield Wednesday followed up three draws in a row before Christmas with three wins in a row after Christmas; the last of which was a 5-0 thumping of Cambridge United. Darren Moore’s men, who are unbeaten in 13 league games, sit 2nd; sandwiched between Plymouth and Ipswich.

#7 Bristol Rovers’ forward Aaron Collins became the first player in the EFL (and the Premier League) to complete the ‘double double’. Collins has scored 13 goals and provided ten assists in his 25 third tier appearances so far this season.

#8 After a wonderful start to the season, Christmas hasn’t been ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ for Leyton Orient. The O’s failed to score in and failed to win any of their games over the holidays. Subsequently, their lead at the top of League Two has been cut to just two points by Stevanage. That being said, Richie Wellens’ side are still 14 points clear of 4th-place Carlisle.

#9 There’s no getting away from it – we were concerned about Sutton United. We were worried that Matt Gray’s men were suffering from ‘second season syndrome’ after an excellent first campaign as an EFL club. However, Sutton are now 12th (above the likes of Stockport County and AFC Wimbledon) after picking up nine points from their last three games. With David Ajiboye returning to the club, we would be foolish to rule out another dart at the play-offs.

#10 Finally, at the foot of League Two, Gillingham are five points from safety after a run of four defeats in a row. The ‘new era’ started with a typically hapless performance at home to Colchester United on Boxing Day, before two improved performances in the defeats to Sutton and Stevenage. New owner Brad Gallinson has assured Gills fans that a number of new players will be following Tom Nicholls in through the door at Priestfield. Whether it turns out to be two or three players or six or seven players, it’s clear that Neil Harris needs help – and fast.

(Photo Creds – Nathan Rogers)