It was yet another vintage round of games in the Championship this past weekend, as we had no less than three 4-1s, a 4-2 and a 3-0 in a derby game. The latter of those results was a beating handed out to Brighton and Hove Albion by fierce rivals Crystal Palace, who, inspired by Yannick Bolasie and ably supported with goals from former Seagull Glenn Murray ran riot at Selhurst Park.
Albion weren't helped by a frankly appalling piece of play by defender Lewis Dunk, who mis-controlled a regulation pass along the floor, and then, in trying to win the ball back, almost scythed the aforementioned Bolasie in half earning himself a red card in the process. The game was just eight minutes old.
Part of the reason the Championship is such an entertaining league is that it showcases almost all parts of the ability spectrum. At one end, there are players of immense quality plying their trade in the division, but as a spectator you also feel that you're never too far away from a rudimentary, Dunk-esque error. The result is a hatful of excitement and usually a boat-load of goals which is obviously great. Unless you support Barnsley or Ipswich, two teams who can't even manage a goal a game on average. In which case it's obviously depressing.
On that note, one of the more interesting sideshows in football is the race to be the Championship top scorer, a list currently headed by Burnley's Charlie Austin. Since signing for Swindon from Poole Town, a place he scored a scarcely believable amount of goals while spending his weekdays as a builder (presumably kicking all the bricks into perfect formation when building houses), he's not really stopped hitting the back of the net. Austin is the sort of chap that you can imagine flicking his chewing gum into the bin from about 20 yards without even looking. He's deadly.
Of course, the problem Burnley have is whether or not they can keep him. They're frustratingly inconsistent in the league this season under Sean Dyche, having finished 13th last time out under Eddie Howe, and they seem to have lost quite a few of their best players since a brief outing in the Premier League a few years ago. You can't blame them for agreeing the sale of Jay Rodriguez to Southampton, the offer was huge, but to my mind the south coast club should have signed Austin. With players like Lallana and Ramirez to support him, the transition to the top flight (never an easy one for strikers from lower down the food chain) would be greatly eased and I'd have fancied him to really hit the ground running.
So what makes Austin such a good striker? Well, he has an unbelievably potent right foot, is good in the air and does all the basic things like closing down, gambling and near post runs very well, making him dangerous from set pieces. A strong player, he rarely gets knocked off the ball, his penalty-taking is superb and his workrate is excellent.
In short, he has just about everything except, from what I can see, a left foot. Hey, no-one's perfect. At the age of just 23 it can't be too long before he does make that leap into the top-flight and I fancy him to be able to get goals in the Premier League too, something that many Championship marksmen have failed at over the years. Austin is different.
This weekend the Clarets head to the City Ground to face also-inconsistent-but-still-quite-good-at-times Nottingham Forest, in what is quite a difficult match to call. Burnley have won two of the last three at Forest though and did the double over them last season. What's more, Forest generally concede at least a goal a game at home in the league this season and have only kept two clean sheets in their last ten games. On the other hand, Burnley's defending away from home is largely terrible and they're likely to concede as well. My bet? Back both teams to score at 1.75/7.