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The English Championship gets underway on Friday 4th August when Sunderland entertain Derby and Nottingham Forest host Millwall. A full programme is completed that weekend when Bolton play Leeds on the Sunday afternoon. As usual we will be looking at Championship games throughout the season, aiming to find Betfair Trading angles for you to follow. We will take a look at the top ten teams in the betting and throwing in a couple of outsiders who may “outrun” their odds.
This time last season, Newcastle went off around 6/4 favourites having been heavily backed when Rafa Benitez agreed to stay and on account of his excellent recruitment in putting together a squad packed with potential and experience, a lot of it at a higher level. At the time of writing this article the bookmakers are 7/1 the field and have ten teams at 16/1 or under. That suggests an exciting wide-open campaign ahead with any number of contenders. I personally think one team should be a lot shorter and we will look at that below.
7/1 MIDDLESBROUGH New manager Gary Monk has been quick to add Britt Assombalonga to his side in the hope that the goals will flow for a side that were the lowest scorers in last season’s Premier League. He looks the type to thrive on the service he should get and they will be challenging at the end of the season. Just lack a touch of class for me.
7/1 ASTON VILLA I don’t understand why we can get 7/1 about a side that has been so shrewd in the transfer market. Am I missing something obvious? Steve Bruce has put together a squad with similar attributes to that of Newcastle last year but the punters have seen it differently. John Terry’s experience at this level alongside Chris Samba will be vital and Bruce has added the trusted Elmohamady who he had at Hull, along with a bit of midfield grit in Glenn Whelan from Stoke. If Jonathan Kodjia continues to score goals up front as he did last season, alongside Scott Hogan who scored plenty at Brentford, then they are the team to beat.
9/1 FULHAM It is difficult to know what to make of Fulham, great going forward last season until that deserted them in the play-offs. A small squad so far means they need to recruit and it is a little late to chase after players making it almost as a second thought. A lot will depend on new signings, Djalo, Cisse, Edun and Norwood blending in quickly but they have lost a lot of numbers from the squad of last season and this season may be a re-building one.
10/1 SHEFF WED Many people picked to win the play-offs last season but came up short against local rivals Huddersfield and that may affect them. Carlos Carvalhal has been very quiet over the summer with just George Boyd joining from Burnley. He must stick with the squad that did so well last season but who in all fairness, “bottled it” at the end. New blood would have given them a chance but although they will be tough to beat, play-offs is the best they can hope for.
10/1 WOLVES They have been recruiting well and if their new Portuguese recruits gel early they can get back to the glory days. Ruben Neves is the potential star and the £15m recruit from Porto could be the key to where they finish. They look a little light in front of goal to me and that may ultimately cost them automatic promotion.
10/1 NORWICH The loss of Murphy to Newcastle and Howson to Middlesbrough could well affect the way Norwich perform this season and recent signings do not inspire a bet. A lot could depend on how well the German central defender Marcel Franke fits in but once again I see the problem being where the goals will come from. Mid-table is my estimate this season and 10/1 appears far too short.
14/1 DERBY I am not sure what to make of the team that I support. I was glad to see the appointment of Gary Rowatt and it will take the club in a slightly different direction as seen by the offloading of Ince, Hughes and Christie but what is the aim for the season. Wisdom, Huddlestone and Davies are solid signings at this level but I would like to have seen a real goalscorer added to the squad. They will be harder to beat but potential lack of goals means I cannot back them to win although they should be challenging for promotion.
16/1 LEEDS A real mishmash of nationalities and new faces who will do will to gel together in time to mount a serious promotion challenge. The will again rely on the goals from Chris Wood which may ultimately determine how high they can climb and the fringes of the play-offs is where I see them.
16/1 HULL This is one team I will be keen to take on in early weeks as many of the personnel are so different to last year’s squad. At least eight players who would have been challenging for a starting place have left the club and it is anybody’s guess as to how they will start off. I can only see them struggling and a top half finish may be the best they can expect.
16/1 SUNDERLAND Yet another side who have lost most of their best players and it remains to be seen if new manager Simon Grayson can get enough out of his small squad and add new faces along the way. They struggled for goals even with Defoe and now that he is gone they will surely struggle again. James Vaughan has been brought in to fill that gap and has played for Grayson before but this a step up from his last season at Bury and if he does misfire Sunderland will find it hard.
Of the others……………………………..
NOTTINGHAM FOREST may be overpriced at 40/1. Mark Warburton has plenty of experience at this level and did wonders with Brentford in 2015 before his move to Rangers in Scotland. Forest brought him in with two months left at the end of last season and with a pre-season to build his own team they should improve and despite the loss of Britt Assombalonga to Middlesbough, Warburton has been quick to replace him with another proven goalscorer at this level, in Daryl Murphy from Newcastle. Also keep an eye on promoted 33/1 SHEFFIELD UTD who may surprise a few teams especially if they can add another couple of faces. They looked a decent side last season and will be tough to beat at home and the EVS available to finish top half is worth a small interest.
I think that ASTON VILLA will win the title and WOLVES, MIDDLESBROUGH and DERBY may be challenging for promotion with FOREST to make the play-offs. At the bottom, it looks like BURTON, BOLTON and BARNSLEY are the three most likely for relegation but don’t be surprised if QPR end up in the mix as they look an ordinary squad.
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