There has now been over a quarter of the Championship season gone, so it’s a good point to review a few things. For this article, I will be looking at the teams that are winning in the aggression stakes based on current data.

However, there will also be room to include plenty of opinion, insight and analysis along the way. This article is not biased towards either big or small clubs, so there should be something for every sort of football fan here.

Now we have that out of the way, let’s get stuck into it…

1. Preston

Preston has been one of the surprise packages of the season so far – and they remain in the top half of the table.

It’s an interesting situation at the club with Simon Grayson leaving in the summer. Some people may have felt that they would decline this season in the aftermath of that, especially considering the risky appointment of Alex Neil.

However, the gamble to appoint the former Norwich manager seems to be working so far. One thing to his advantage is a need to work with the players that he has available – rather than having too much ability to change things due to limited resources. It’s similar to the sort of situation he was in during his time with Hamilton – and the lack of expectations at Preston is also to his advantage.

There are various good things that the Scot has established during his short time with the club such as a strong defence that has conceded just 11 goals this season.

One of the ways that Preston have become hard to beat is due to their aggressive approach which has seen them pick up a league high of 31 yellow cards and two red cards. It’s no real surprise that the club also performs well for both tackles and aerials won.

2. Sunderland

No one is going to deny that Sunderland is a massive club for the Championship.

It’s obvious that comparisons will be made with Newcastle United, who managed to win this league last season. Automatic promotion was the expectation for Newcastle last season though, the situation is somewhat different at Sunderland.

Even The Most optimistic of fans will have been aware that their spell in the Championship could be a lengthy one – and that’s the way it is looking.

The appointment of Simon Grayson in the summer was underwhelming but understandable given his knowledge and experience of the league.

Sunderland have been getting the aggressive side right after picking up 26 yellow cards this season. The club has also performed well for tackles, but their defensive record, in general, has been poor with 25 goals conceded already. The fact that they haven’t lost their last three games is showing some signs of improvement though.

3. Sheffield United

Sheffield United have been another surprise package in the Championship this season – and currently sit third in the table. After being in League One last season it’s been a great start to the season for the club that plays a mixture of direct and short passing football.

The Blades have been an impressive team at home this season and it appears that their aggressive style makes them a tough nut to crack. The stats this season show that they have picked up 26 yellow cards and one red card. Sheffield United also perform well in making interceptions, which is clearly linked to their aggression.

Coming up from League One, it’s understandable that the club may not have the most technical players – and certainly aren’t in the top six for possession or passing accuracy. However, I do expect them to improve in these respects both this season and next. In fact, their midfielder Paul Coutts is one of the most prolific passers in the league this season.

4. Bolton

Bolton knew that the Championship was going to be tough for them this season, but they can’t have imagined that their start to the season would have been as bad as this.

The good news is that there have now been some positive signs of encouragement suggesting that their survival chances may not be completely dead.

The most obvious of those positive signs is the fact that they have now taken four points from their last two games. However, to keep things in perspective it’s worth pointing out that Bolton has still only won one league game so far this season.

Aggression is one thing that they have been getting right though as they have managed 25 yellow cards and one red one so far this season. The club has also performed well for winning aerial duels, so there is still hope that their season can be turned around.

5. Norwich City

Norwich City has gone through a lot of change this summer, so it didn’t come as a massive surprise when they made a slow start to the season.

However, new head coach Daniel Farke recognised that things weren’t quite right at the club – and a turnaround was unlikely unless certain things were tweaked with his team’s approach.

It’s fair to say that things really came to a head after the team lost 4-0 to newly promoted Millwall earlier in the season. On that day, Norwich was bullied by Millwall and their accurate passing had little impact on the London club’s bullish style. Several things changed in the aftermath of that game including the formation and the realisation that possession domination was not necessary.

Those changes have transformed the Canaries into one of the form teams in the Championship. Another crucial thing for them to change was to make sure they aren’t bullied anymore like they were against Millwall.

The team have upped their aggression and that’s had a very positive impact on the team as well. The stats include 23 yellow cards and one red one, the team have also improved dramatically on tackles per game – and the number of shots they concede against opposing teams.

6. Millwall

Millwall may not have adapted to the Championship as well as Sheffield United, but they have still put themselves in an excellent position to survive in the league this season. A lot of their success has been built on a strong home record (one of the six best in the league). The club will want to keep that going to ensure survival is secured with something to spare.

The Lions are also good at getting their tackles in and rank second in the league on that particular stat.

Of course, aggression is a major part of their game – and that makes them incredibly hard to play around. As mentioned in the previous section, even teams such as Norwich have come unstuck due to this.

The key stats include 23 yellow cards and two red ones. In addition to that, Millwall enjoys a foul and rank in the top five for the number they concede per game. Their overall style may not threaten a place in the top six, but it’s a side of their game that works really well for them. Securing Championship football for another season means they can continue to develop their game at this level.


This completes the end of the content section for this article as we looked at the most aggressive teams in the Championship so far this season. If you enjoy Championship content like this, then keep an eye on my profile for all the latest updates.