Examining the shifting sands of the English Championship as Ipswich and Leicester pull ahead while Leeds faces a setback against Sunderland.

As we look at the Winners and Losers from the latest round of English Championship fixtures, we are wondering whether the race for automatic promotion is over already, 21 games into the season.

There was also welcome reprieve for Wayne Rooney while Leeds United suffered the curse of the Black Cats.

Winners of the Round

Ipswich Town’s Resilience

Ipswich Town and Leicester City are pulling away from the rest of the field. The top two have one common trait – consistency. It’s a quality that will stand them in good stead for the race for promotion to the Premier League.

Ipswich Town passed yet another stern test of their promotion credentials with a crucial come-from-behind 2-1 win away at Watford to catapult themselves to the summit of the Championship table, albeit for 24 hours.

As Championship newbies, a trip to Vicarage Road represented a potential banana skin for the Tractor Boys. But as they have done so well all season, Kieran McKenna’s men negotiated yet another tricky assignment with aplomb to keep the naysayers waiting for the “inevitable capitulation.”

Leicester City’s Comeback

Having ceded top spot by dint of inaction, Leicester City were heavily favoured to reclaim leadership of the Championship promotion race when they hosted struggling Millwall.

They did, but not before surviving an early and a late scare.

The Foxes fell behind inside 10 minutes and went into the break still trailing the visitors by the odd goal.

A second-half turnaround saw Enzo Maresca’s men race to a 3-1 lead, but would endure a nervous final moments after Millwall pulled one back in injury time.

They Foxes were made to work for their 3-2 win, but this was one of those fixtures were the result was secondary to the performance.

Separated by just one point, the top two have put a handy 10 and 11-point buffer respectively between themselves and their closest but stuttering pursuers.

Two games before we reach the halfway stage, it’s too early to start talking about the top two as shoo-ins for automatic promotion. Their leads are not unassailable, but very handy nonetheless and the perfect launch pads.

Birmingham City Manager Wayne Rooney win

Birmingham City beat Cardiff City 1-0 to give embattled manager Wayne Rooney only the second win of his St Andrew’s tenure and the first on the road at the 10th time of asking.

Pressure has been mounting on Rooney after results failed to match the optimism engendered by his appointment. The win over the Bluebirds will come as a much-needed reprieve for the former Derby County manager.

Blues fans will be hopping the win is the first of many for their club and the catalyst to a revival.

West Bromwich Albion back in Winning ways

After two successive defeats West Brom returned to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over hapless Rotherham United to consolidate fifth place while closing the gap to Southampton and Leeds United in third and fourth respectively.

The Curse of the Blackcats

With no room for error, Sunderland beat Leeds United 1-0 to retain their occupancy of the final play-off spot on goal difference.

Losers of the Round

Leeds United: The Struggle continues

From Day 1, Leeds United’s promotion challenge has been severely undermined by a maddening tendency to drop points against teams they are, on paper, heavily favoured to beat.

The curse struck again on Tuesday night when Daniel Farke’s men saw their seven-match unbeaten run ended by Sunderland. As a result of that defeat the Whites conceded ground to the top two in the race for automatic promotion.

If Leeds United hope to insert themselves in the automatic  promotion reckoning, then they will need to add ruthlessness to their game and purge themselves of their habit of dropping the ball.

Leeds United: How Do I Love Thee

Saints lack consistency

Southampton could only manage a 1-1 draw at Coventry City.

Just like Leeds United, the Saints’ lack of consistency is the biggest threat  to their promotion ambitions.

After Leeds United had stumbled 24 hours earlier, Southampton had the perfect incentive to win and draw level on points with the Whites.

Instead, for the second successive game they could only manage a draw. As a result, they gained nominal ground on third-placed Leeds United while their lead over fifth-placed West Brom was reduced to four points.

Middlesbrough cropper

Middlesbrough slumped to a third consecutive defeat after coming a cropper at home against Hull City.

Boro are your typical yo-yo side this season, blowing hot and cold. Just when you think they have turned a corner and primed to go on a rum to reignite their play-off hopes, they flatter to deceive.

Quite clearly, Michael Carrick’s men are struggling to rediscover the form and consistency that saw them storm to the play-offs last term.

Sheffield Wednesday surprise win

Sheffield Wednesday’s three-match unbeaten run came to a screeching halt at Carrow Road, where they were beaten 3-1 by Norwich City.

What will the defeat do to the Owls’ confidence? Do they have the temperament to dust themselves down and conjure up another mini-revival?


Although they could only manage a goalless draw against Plymouth Argyle, preserving their four-match unbeaten run and keeping the momentum going is a massive boost for Queens Park Rangers.

The point earned moved them within a point of safety, a big win in the contest of their survival cause.

However, with Huddersfield Town who occupy the final safe spot loosing against West Brom, QPR will see their failure to beat 10-man Plymouth as a big opportunity missed. A win would have taken the Hoops out of the relegation zone, handing themselves a massive psychological boost in the process.

December 2023 Fixtures

Saturday 16th December

Sunday 17th December

Monday 18th December

Sky Bet Championship 2023/24 – Week 21

# Team GP Won Draw Lost GF GA GD Points
1Leicester City21171341142752
2Ipswich Town21163245261951
3Leeds United21125436211541
5West Bromwich Albion21105633211235
7Hull City219663127433
8Preston North End219572733-632
9Blackburn Rovers21101103434031
10Cardiff City219392824430
11Norwich City219393737030
12Watford FC217773026428
14Coventry City216872724326
15Bristol City217592224-226
16Birmingham City217592429-526
17Swansea City216782929025
18Plymouth Argyle2165103133-223
19Stoke City2164112029-922
21Huddersfield Town214982035-1521
22Queens Park Rangers2155111930-1120
23Sheffield Wednesday2134141434-2013
24Rotherham United2127121841-2313

Last updated: December 14, 2023, 16:14 pm

Key: Promotion: 1st, 2nd (Light Blue) | Play Off: 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th (Light Green) | Relegation: 22nd, 23rd, 24th (Light Pink)


I'm Barrie Jarrett, born in Leeds, lived over a decade in South Africa, CEO And Co Founder of Planet Sport Limited and Planet Bet Limited.

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