Checking In At The Top Of The Tables Mark December 12, 2014 Leeds United 3 Comments With Leeds pretty firmly established in the middle portion of the League Championship tables for now, there isn’t a great deal of larger meaning in the coming matches. The upcoming fixture with Fulham should be a tight contest and a nice opportunity for the club to climb a little bit in the standings. But with the top of the tables looking extremely close heading toward the new year, here’s a look in at where the top few contenders stand. Derby County Derby County hasn’t exactly been dominant of late, but the club is still putting in a strong bid to earn promotion back to the Premier League for the first time since the end of the 2007/8 season. Naturally, this makes the recent 2-0 win for Leeds over Derby that much more satisfying, but the big picture for Derby is that it’s managed to beat the other contenders when necessary. They won away at Watford and demolished Wolves (who truthfully aren’t contenders, but were once thought to be) in November. They also already boast one win over Bournemouth and a hard-fought draw with Ipswich. In contests with clubs currently in the top-five in the league tables, Derby’s only loss thus far was at Brentford on November 1. Ipswich Town Ipswich has been absent from the Premier League for even longer than Derby, having been relegated in 2002 and not made it back since. One can only imagine how thrilled the club’s supporters are, then, that it’s currently at second in the tables and just a point behind Derby for the overall lead. The trouble for Ipswich has been that it can’t seem to earn three points when the opportunity presents itself. BBC’s league tables show that despite having the second-highest point total, Ipswich has only the fifth-best goal differential (at +12). This translates to a problematic seven draws in just 20 matches played, which probably isn’t a sustainable way for the club to stay in contention. Bournemouth Despite sitting two points back of Derby and one behind Ipswich, there’s an argument to be made that Bournemouth are showing the strongest form in the league of late. Heading into their last match (a 2-1 win against Wolves at Molineux), a Betbright match preview pointed out that Bournemouth have lost only two away games on the entire season. That’s certainly a recipe for success at any level, particularly in a league in which no club has distinguished itself as a strong favourite. Furthermore, a look at Bournemouth’s results shows that the club is actually unbeaten in its last 11 matches (last losing to Derby on September 30). That’s quite a run, and if it didn’t include a few too many draws, Bournemouth would be atop the standings with room to spare. Middlesbrough Even with Bournemouth in the tables and therefore squarely among the contenders at the moment, Middlesbrough has suffered a similar fate to both Bournemouth and Ipswich: too many draws to achieve any real separation from the field. The club hasn’t lost since a late October contest against Wolves, but its real test will come in the next few weeks. Middlesbrough will host Derby on December 13 and travel to play Ipswich the following week in a brief series of matches that will do much to determine the order of these top four contenders heading into January. There’s a great deal of Championship football yet to be played and plenty of time yet for Leeds to force its way into relevance, or at least the top half of the tables. But for now, these look to be the four clubs to keep an eye on with regard to a title and promotion to the Premier League.