With almost a quarter of the Championship season played, the table is taking shape. Reading lead the way despite a recent dip in form while Watford, Norwich City and Bournemouth are all looking good to return to the Premier League at the first time of asking. Some of the biggest teams in the league – Derby County, Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest – have endured tough starts and could be facing a relegation battle. But which players have stood out in the first few weeks of the season? We’ve picked out six of the best players in the Championship so far who are making the difference for their teams in the 20/21 season.
Best players in the Championship 20/21
Ivan Toney (Brentford)
Replacing Ollie Watkins was always going to be a challenge but Ivan Toney has stepped up to the plate in a big way since his move to Brentford. The former Peterborough United striker has already hit 10 Championship goals so far this season, including braces in successive games against Preston, Coventry and Wednesday.
Brentford paid less than £10 million for Toney but he has made the leap from League One with ease. The Premier League could be next up for the prolific 24-year-old.
Perhaps surprisingly, though, Toney feels like he should have bagged even more goals. “I’m thinking about the chances that I’ve missed previously,” he said in a recent interview. “It’s going to sound crazy, but I feel like I should have around 15.”
If the Bees are going to go one better than last season’s loss to Fulham in the Championship play-off final, Toney is likely to be their main man.
Lucas Joao (Reading)
Table-toppers Reading have lost three in a row but they remain top, indicating just how brilliantly they played in the first few weeks. Much of their success has been built on the fantastic performances of Lucas Joao, who has contributed six goals and three assists in just nine Championship starts this season.
Joao, who only hit six league goals in the entirety of the 2019-20 campaign for the Royals, also hit a hat-trick in the League Cup against Colchester United. The Portuguese striker has only once hit double figures since moving to English football and joining the ranks of fellow Championship football players in 2015 but is on track for his most prolific campaign to date as Reading chase promotion.
Tyrese Campbell (Stoke City)
Stoke fans are getting excited again after a few bad years in the Potteries, with Tyrese Campbell one of the main reasons they are pushing for a play-off place. The 20-year-old has five assists so far this season, the joint-highest in the league with Brentford star Bryan Mbeumo, while he has also scored three times in the Championship, making him one of the best players in the Championship so far in the 20/21 season.
Campbell, the son of former Premier League striker Kevin, broke through with nine league goals last season but he has taken another big step forward this term. Although he was initially considered a central forward, Campbell has been thriving in a wide role.
Adam Armstrong (Blackburn Rovers)
Currently the Championship top scorer with 11 goals from 10 games is Adam Armstrong but Rovers are in mid-table despite having the hottest striker in the league. Armstrong has taken 5.5 shots per game so far this term, far more than anyone else in the division, showing his high level of confidence in front of goal.
At 23, Armstrong continues to develop fast and, having hit 16 league goals last season, he is poised to break his own personal scoring record in the Championship this time out.
With six goals in his past four appearances, the international break came at a bad time for the Newcastle-born forward, but he will be looking to maintain that form in the coming weeks.
Jake Cooper (Millwall)
Millwall don’t tend to be considered among the biggest clubs in the Championship so it may come as a surprise that of the best players of the 20/21 season so far players for the Lions. Millwall are performing above expectations again this season though, with excellent performances from defender Jake Cooper one of the main reasons for their surprise success.
The Lions have one of the stingiest back lines in the league, having conceded only eight times in the Championship this term, with Cooper leading their miserly defence. Tying Cooper down to a long-term contract looks to have been a very smart move by Millwall as the 25-year-old is sure to be in demand if he maintains his strong start to the campaign.
Joao Pedro (Watford)
Most people probably expected the Hornets to lead on the experienced strike duo of Andre Gray and Troy Deeney after their relegation but that has not been the case.
New Watford boss Vladimir Ivic has instead put his faith in Brazilian hotshot Joao Pedro, who has hit four Championship goals from nine starts so far. The teenager will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of countryman Richarlison, who made his name at Vicarage Road before earning a big-money move to Everton.
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