Championship at halfway: West Brom soaring with Leeds in close company

West Brom’s Kyle Edwards celebrates, Leeds’ Kalvin Phillips, Derby’s Wayne Rooney, Jarrod Bowen of Hull, Stoke manager Michael O’Neill, Andre Ayew of Swansea City and Aleksandar Mitrovic of Fulham. Threatening to runaway with things are West Brom and Leeds. this point last season nine points separated the highest six but Slaven Bilic’s free-scoring Albion – only Manchester City have more league goals across England’s top five tiers – have established considerably more breathing space at the summit. Bilic has made his first taste of managing within the so-called madhouse look easy, such a lot in order that his side have soared to the 50-point mark without appearing to figure up an excessive amount of of a sweat, and therefore the sense is there’s many oomph to return.

West Brom are eight points more happy than they were last campaign while Leeds are only some extent worse off. Not that they ought to be worried, with Ben White’s form within the division’s best defence and therefore the stealth of Kalvin Phillips major boons. Leeds might be forgiven for not getting too giddy – they imploded towards the top of last season and this month had to accept some extent after leading a 10-man Cardiff by three goals at Elland Road. Whether Marcelo Bielsa’s stubbornness over Eddie Nketiah comes back to bite remains to be seen; the Arsenal striker is yet to start out a league match since joining on loan in August.

Beneath the highest two things are splendidly congested between a flurry of teams with clear imperfections, with seven points separating third-placed Sheffield Wednesday and Queens Park Rangers in 14th. For Wednesday, who have made impressive strides since Garry Monk took charge in September, the elephant within the room is that the EFL misconduct charge over the sale of Hillsborough, with their fate within the hands of an independent disciplinary commission. Fulham, propelled by the division’s 17-goal leading scorer, Aleksandar Mitrovic, are fourth, level on points with a vibrant Preston, while a slick Brentford are primed for a tilt at the play-offs after tightening up at the rear. Not goodbye ago Tony Mowbray was feeling the warmth at Blackburn but they’re one among the shape teams and unbeaten in seven games. Ini dia agen sbobet terbaik di Indonesia.

A youthful Swansea have blown hot and cold under Steve Cooper but remain within the mix, largely because of André Ayew. The Ghanaian is that the club’s highest earner, taking home around £80,000 every week but the striker has proved a priceless commodity, hitting double figures in goals to stay them within the hunt. Across the Severn Bridge, Bristol City have wobbled in recent weeks and crave to feature that sort of firepower in January. Sabri Lamouchi appeared to have sussed out the way to return Nottingham Forest to the large time but a so-far dreadful December – played four, won none – has caused panic and that they got to ease the goalscoring burden on Lewis Grabban.

Jaw-dropping sport moments of 2019: Hysteria at Anfield and in Amsterdam

I left Anfield around midnight, at which point it had been clear football was getting to fill subsequent 24 hours. within the lobby of my Manchester airport hotel everyone was still talking about football. a couple of short, adrenaline-churned hours later everyone at breakfast was talking about football. In departures and security everyone was talking about football. In Amsterdam the passport queue was filled with Tottenham fans and various red-eyed media types, all on an equivalent midweek weekender, all talking about football.

It was a special feeling round the Johan Cruyff Arena. this is often an enormous concrete shell of a ground. If Anfield was warm and persuasive the Cruyff felt overwhelming. Ajax supporters had found out a loud, slightly hostile fan park outside. There was a fug of sweet smoke and a drunken crush round the stairwells and stadium bars. agen sbobet 888 online

Getting in was terrible. The admin system had crashed. No lunch, no water, four hours’ sleep: this felt sort of a day taking a wrong turn. Upstairs there was an extra shemozzle over access. because the game began, charged with filing 900 words on the ultimate kick, I crammed myself into a concrete ledge without power or wifi right up within the gods, the players a group of moving shapes miles below.

Spurs were already without Harry Kane. After four minutes they were 2-0 down on aggregate, Matthijs de Ligt heading during a corner. With 36 minutes gone it had been 3-0, Hakim Ziyech smashing an attempt into the corner. And at that moment this was just about over, a re-entry into the everyday after the wildness of Anfield. Ajax celebrated the instant, a team savouring the high. Spurs looked spent, cooked, done.

Somehow they only kept coming. the primary goal of the second-half comeback was a thing of beauty, a blitzkrieg down the centre launched by Danny Rose’s nutmeg and speared long pass. Dele Alli played a stunning touch to Lucas Moura, who scored. Four minutes later Moura did something brilliant together with his feet during a tiny space during a crowded area. it had been 3-2 and Spurs were playing through a sort of rage.

Jan Vertonghen hit the bar with four minutes left and you’ll see the waves of fear rolling round the ground. Everyone knew what was coming. Into the 96th minute, Moura took a stunning, easy little flick from Alli and just tucked the ball into the corner with thrilling ease.

At the ultimate whistle the Spurs players didn’t really know what to try to to. They leapt and clutched one another. Mauricio Pochettino was suddenly there, punching the air with both fists. Anfield had felt sort of a universal effort, something the whole stadium dredged out of itself. This was more distinct, a display of will from the players that was easier to face and admire, but no less moving for that.

Barcelona had simply collapsed the night before. Ajax played their part in Amsterdam, a brilliantly constructed team reaching their own two-season high therein half.

The night led to more confusion, with a struggle to flee the out-of-town megadrome. a multitude of absent taxis was followed by an extended walk into town and a rather messy stroll through the canal bars of a city that wasn’t getting to sleep.

It is easy to become a touch jaded by European club football, this Gazprom-fest, this endlessly excitable arm of massive Entertainment. But this was something else, a bit of extended sporting theatre that also feels a touch raw and undigested, as if some small a part of it’ll just keep it up flickering away on an endless replay at the rear of your head. Nothing quite this much fun has ever happened before during this competition. it’s going to never happen again. Which is, all things considered, probably for the simplest.