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The best thing about the Premier League this season is the Championship

It’s obvious what the best thing about this Premier League season has been so far.

The Championship.

Norwich’s fantastically unlikely win over Man City reinforced a prevalent theme that has underpinned the embryonic stages of the 2019/20 campaign.

Those who sparkled in the second tier of English football last season, have starred in the top flight this term.


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You know him now

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You know him now

Teemu Pukki is the most prominent example.

The 29-year-old Finn was signed on a free in 2018 having re-energised his career with Brondby after a disastrous spell at Celtic.

Many questioned the Canaries’ recruitment but Pukki justified the decision ten-fold as he scored 29 goals to propel Norwich to the title.

The 2018/19 Championship Player of the Season has somehow managed to increase his strike rate since promotion, bagging six goals in five games.

Team-mates Todd Cantwell and Emi Buendia have entertained too.

The former has scored two goals and two assists while the supremely talented Argentine is only bettered by Kevin De Bruyne is terms of league assists at this stage.

Golden Boot contender?

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Golden Boot contender?

Then there’s Chelsea.

Frank Lampard’s managerial debut in the top flight has enthralled with frequent goals at both ends.

Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount have been the Blues’ standout performers.

Chelsea’s No9 scored 25 Championship goals for Aston Villa last season, contributing significantly to their promotion.

Now he’s level with Sergio Aguero as the Premier League’s top scorer.

As for Mount, he was arguably Derby’s best player in 2018/19.

Such has been the 20-year-old midfielder’s form at the start of this season, Gareth Southgate was persuaded to use him in England’s two most recent qualifiers.

Both Mount and Lampard have traded Pride Park for Stamford Bridge and, so far, the pair’s understanding has translated to the higher standard.

Pace to burn

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Pace to burn

Dan James has gone from promising prospect for Championship mid-tablers Swansea to the most exciting attacking outlet for the world-famous Man United.

The Welshman’s goals are evidence that a club of United’s stature are able to use the Championship as a measuring stick for talent.

Pukki, Buendia, Abraham, Mount, James — the list of the Championship’s best players of 2018/19 reads like a who’s who of the Premier League 2019/20.

And that’s not including those who have impressed in a less outlandish manner, such as Oliver Norwood, John McGinn, Tyrone Mings, Harry Wilson, Neal Maupay and Adam Webster.

We see you, Ollie

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We see you, Ollie

So what’s the conclusion; the Championship is getting closer in standard to the Premier League?

It depends how you look at it.

The three promoted teams have had their moments but all reside in the bottom half after five games: Norwich (13th), Sheffield United (15th), Aston Villa (17th).

No team has conceded more goals than Daniel Farke’s side while Dean Smith’s troops are the joint-lowest scorers in the league.

However, in terms of quality, there isn’t much between the bottom ten teams in the Premier League and the top six sides in the Championship.

And the fact the likes of Abraham, Mount and James are excelling for ‘big six’ teams shows the value of the second tier.

Telepathy

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Telepathy

Wolves are something of an anomaly but last season they showed what an ambitious promoted team can achieve.

Simultaneously, Fulham showed how an ambitious promoted team can crash and burn.

It’s too early to say what position Norwich, Sheffield United and Aston Villa will be in come May but in the Canaries’ enterprise and the Blades’ unique tactics (overlapping centre-backs) the value added to the league by these teams is already considerable.

It’s notable how many of this season’s most eye-catching performers cut their teeth in the Championship last term.

Another understated player who is definitely Premier League standard

Getty Images - Getty
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Another understated player who is definitely Premier League standard

The Championship is a gruelling 46-game campaign contested between relatively even teams — even champions Norwich dropped points in 41% of the games.

This environment coupled with the trickle down from the money in the Premier League, has made England’s second flight the best in the world in terms of standard and entertainment.

And it’s demonstrating it can be an efficient proving ground for budding talent worthy of the best league in the world.


NEXT: Adel Taarabt is back breaking hearts and ankles in the Champions League, but not as you knew him

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