Sky Bet Championship: The best XI of players from the 2019/20 season so far

The best XI of the Sky Bet Championship season so far

With the Sky Bet Championship season set to resume this week, we pick the best XI of players who have stood out in their position.

Following the announcement that all leagues around Europe would stop play in March, we've not seen any action in England's four divisions over the past three months.


Sky Bet Championship: Top Performers Series


However, the Premier League and Sky Bet Championship return this week with nine games remaining of the campaign.

The action gets underway on Saturday with a huge clash between Fulham and Brentford, while title hopefuls Leeds travel to Cardiff on Sunday.

To welcome in the return of domestic football, we pick out our Championship Team of the Season (so far).

Goalkeeper

Freddie Woodman

GK: Freddie Woodman (Swansea)

There's a number of contenders to take the top spot but Freddie Woodman ticks all the boxes.

His efforts have helped to significantly lower the number of goals that Swansea should have conceded. His three penalties saved is also a division high this season.

Woodman's decision-making puts him at a 90% success rate for runs out while he sits outside the top-ten for goals conceded from outside the box.

The distribution puts him among the divisional leaders and the fact he's only 23 years old just adds to the impact he has made during his time at the club.

In the short-term, should the season resume, the stopper could help the Swans to achieve a Premier League return while the long-term vision will surely revolve around securing the number one spot at his parent club Newcastle.

He looks a strong contender for Team of the Season if we reach gameweek 46, such is the strength of his showings over the previous 37 fixtures.

No goalkeeper is perfect but Woodman, an England international at various youth levels, has the potential to go to the very top. He's a star of England's second tier.

Defence

Matty Cash has been a star for Nottingham Forest
  • RB: Matty Cash
  • CB: Ben White
  • CB: Tim Ream
  • LB: Kristian Pedersen

It's a tough situation closing such a strong list down to just four players but with the names listed here we can create a defence that boasts key abilities across the line.

The centre-back pairing is where the most debate can be had but the certainty for inclusion is Ben White. The Leeds man, on-loan from Brighton, is the best defender in the league.

He has everything required for a modern centre-back. He can carry the ball and pick out team mates with short or long passes. A defender who can create attack and be comfortable in possession significantly increases their value in the transfer market.

White is also in the perfect environment at Leeds, working under the guidance of Marcelo Bielsa. The former Argentina coach wants his defenders to be able to carry the ball out for the back and the 22-year-old ticks all the boxes.

Alongside him is the biggest challenge. Do you go for a player, such as Tim Ream, who will compliment his ability to pass, or do we bring in someone to cover for the lack of aerial presence, a Shaun Hutchinson or Patrick Bauer?

I'd have a strong argument for Hutchinson if that's what we were after but the stats show that if you want to play out from the back you must have both central defenders being comfortable passing the ball.

Therefore, for this team, we're going for Ream to work alongside White and be that sort of centre-back partnership.

That's not to say they won't do their defensive duties, as the interceptions and other main categories show, but this team has the 'modern' approach and we'll pass our way to the top.

Cashing in at right-back is Nottingham Forest's Matty Cash who leads the way when it comes to total tackles made. He was a target for Premier League and Serie A clubs in January and it's clear to see that he is top level talent.

On the opposite flank is Kristian Pedersen. The Birmingham defender's interceptions and tackles statistics put him among the very best in the division.

Solid full-back choices, with ball-playing centre-backs, creates an ideal defence for the way the league currently is.

Midfield

Kalvin Phillips has been a star for Leeds
  • CM: Kalvin Phillips
  • CM: John Swift
  • AM: Eberechi Eze

There's a number of strong choices to make the midfield trio in this team but the three here have stood out in various areas.

The first name is Kalvin Phillips. The Leeds man stakes claim to being the best midfielder in the division and his rumoured involvement with the England team highlights the talent.

He's made the defensive midfield role his own. His ability to read the game is reflected in the interceptions while the number of tackles is beneficial to the back line.

It's shown at points this season that Leeds are a much weaker side without him. He's a unique player and it was reportedly one of the conditions behind Bielsa staying at the club when discussions took place last summer.

Alongside him is Reading's John Swift. His overall game should make him a Premier League target when the transfer window opens.

The stats highlight distribution but he's hit double figures for assists. A total involvement in 15 Championship goals for the Royals during the 2019/20 campaign.

He wouldn't be looked upon as someone to provide the defensive support in the way that Phillips does, but the tackles and interceptions standing at above 1.0 a game is a positive.

Swift is the playmaker of the three in this side. His list of strengths significantly outweighs the weaknesses.

At the tip of the midfield is Eberechi Eze. For this team, he'll be required to play a central role and the 12 goals and eight assists makes it difficult not to include him.

With Swift and Phillips behind, Eze will have the freedom to drive forward and focus solely on his attacking duties.

The ability to dribble and drive forward has been a major contributing factor in the number of goals he had involvement in.

Eze is a player with all the characteristics of being a fan-favourite. His speed and advancing dribbles go alongside an ability to keep hold of the ball which leads to fouls against, particularly as he looks to cut inside to beat a defender.

In terms of this side, a midfield with this strength would drive a team to the title.

Forwards

Brentford celebrate Ollie Watkins' late winner against Middlesbrough
  • RW: Matheus Pereira
  • ST: Aleksandar Mitrovic
  • LW: Ollie Watkins

What's clear from this season is that Aleksandar Mitrovic and Ollie Watkins would nail down their spots in any Championship XI.

It'd be interesting to see how the duo would work together, but based on the main statistics and their records this season, they would be certainties if it came to picking any two from this division.

Watkins' high number of shots on target combined with a fantastic conversion rate demonstrates his danger in the 18-yard box. Of course, that's alongside the 22 goals on his tally.

What's been impressive is that he's demonstrated an ability to play in any of the three front positions.

When Neal Maupay was at Brentford, Watkins would play as a winger but since the Frenchman departed for Brighton in the summer he has made the striker role his own.

In Mitrovic, it caused little surprise to see him hit the ground running once again in the Championship.

He arrived as a loan striker in the January window during Fulham's last campaign in this league and his goals proved crucial in them achieving promotion by winning the play-off final.

It's pretty much guaranteed that every Championship Team of the Season, whenever the season reaches its conclusion, will have Mitrovic involved.

West Brom enjoyed a prolific striking pair last season with Jay Rodriguez and Dwight Gayle both surpassing the 20-goal mark over the 2018/19 campaign.

It's completely hypothetical of course. However, there's little argument against saying that a duo of Mitrovic and Watkins would surely score more.

Completing the forward line is West Brom star Matheus Pereira. He's posted 25 shots on target this season but the eye-catching side of his game, or one of many, is the assists.

Pereira, on-loan from Sporting, has posted a remarkable 16 assists so far. The 23-year-old has also scored six goals of his own.


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