The (Real) Championship: Forest Alone at the Top, Derby Hammer Fulham


Nottingham Forest continued their great start yesterday against Reading, winning 4-0. Watford, Norwich and Wolverhampton kept pace, each now just a point off the leaders, with 9 points each. Derby County also won convincingly, beating horrible Fulham 5-1.

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Forest pulled out a great performance against Reading, with Michail Antonio especially starring. Antonio scored Nottingham’s first two, the first off a deep cross, that was lobbed to the back post. Antonio was fading away, but still managed to head the ball over the goalkeepers hands, and down off the crossbar. The second was off a Jack Hunt cross, that just went over Britt Assombalonga’s head. The former Reading midfielder was just behind Assombalonga, and redirected the ball into the goal with an outstretched foot.

Michail then set up Matty Fryatt for Forest’s third. His inswinging cross found Fryatt just 6 yards out of goal, and left the English forward little work to head the ball home. Assombalonga got one himself, after a corner rolled around in front of goal. A melee of players blocked anyone from clearing the ball out, and Britt got to the spot first, tapping the ball into the net.

Michail Antonio put up a fantastic performance against his former team, Reading, on Saturday. Antonio scored a brace, and set up a third goal, helping Forest to a 4-0 win.

Assombalong, Antonio and Fryatt lead Forest’s scoring charts this season, with 4, 3 and 2 goals, respectively. Forest took the top spot on Tuesday, after shocking then leaders Bournemouth 2-1. Forest hasn’t been in the first division since the 90’s, and want to make it back to the Premiership this season.

Watford kept pace with the leaders, beating Leeds United 4-1. Watford made the Promotion Playoff Final in dramatic style two years ago, beating Leicester 3-2 on aggregate. Watford was tied 2-2 on aggregate, and needed a goal to go through. Leicester earned a penalty in extra time, but Manuel Almunia, Watford’s keeper, saved both the penalty and the rebound. Watford went down the field and scored, winning the playoff semi-final.

Watford beat Leeds 4-1 on Saturday, convincingly responding to Forest’s strong win over Reading.

Gianfranco Zola’s team couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity and fell 1-0 to Crystal Palace in the Playoff final. They then finished 13th in the Championship last season, and Zola was dismissed. Watford will be looking to bounce back this season, and make it back to the Premier League. They scored the second most goals in the division, two seasons ago, and started out last season strong, but consistency will be key for them.

Norwich and Wolverhampton both won 1-0, over Ipswich and Cardiff respectively, to keep up with Forest. Norwich couldn’t stave off relegation last season, but have looked strong so far, beating Watford and Blackburn. Wolves beat them on the opening weekend, 1-0, and have beaten Cardiff and Fulham 1-0 since. Their only loss came against Rotherham United, also, 1-0.

Derby had the strongest showing of the weekend, beating the dismal Fulham 5-1. Derby lost, shockingly, to Charlton Athletic 3-2, on Tuesday. The Rams bounced back, strong; Christ Martin got a brace, and Will Hughes came off the bench to set up Derby’s last two goals.

Felix Magath is coming under fire after Fulham have failed to get any points out of their first four games. But Magath must be given time to let the youth, who he has thrown his lot in with, develop.

Felix Magath has been placing much of his faith this season in Fulham’s strong youth system. Patrick Roberts, Moussa Dembele, Cauley Woodrow, Sean Kavanagh, Cameron Burgess and Jesse Joronen have all moved through Fulham’s youth teams, and have featured for the first team so far. It should be no surprise that a team with an average age of 23 is going to struggle for a time. Fulham fans need to be patient, and let the young players develop.

Fulham might be relegated, but that is a price that needs to be paid. Roberts, Dembele, Woodrow and the others are great talents, and Magath isn’t playing them because there isn’t anyone else. Yes, many players left Fulham over the summer, but the owners bought Ross McCormack, who scored 28 for Leeds last season, for 11 million pounds. The money is there; but Magath is thinking long-term, and knows that these young players need first team action.

Even though relegation will hurt these young players, it will make them grow, and Fulham will soon have a great core of players, like Southampton grew. But the fans have to show patience and understanding; this year won’t be fun, but if you wait it out, then the days will get much, much better.

You can find the full list of scores here, and the full table here. Again, I will stress that right now, the table is entirely unclear; just focus on your team’s individual game, and not their table position.

  1. Forest: 10 pts, +7 GD
  2. Watford: 9 pts, +5 GD
  3. Norwich: 9 pts, +5 GD
  4. Wolverhampton: 9 pts, +2 GD
  5. Charlton Athletic: 8 pts, +2 GD
  6. Sheffield: 8 pts, +2 GD

You can follow me, James Sutherland, @thepitchview, and don’t forget to follow We Are Hooligans @WeRHooligansFS. Check back next time for wrap up of the (real) Championship action.