Ante Post Betting – Championship Preview Part 1

Championship Betting – Promotion Candidates


We’ve heard the cliché before: the Championship is the hardest league in world football to win. Is the tide changing, however? There was never a blueprint to escape the English second tier, but with Wolves and Fulham last year, and Huddersfield the year before underlining a clear focus on attractive, possession-based football, who is ready to follow the mould this season?

Nottingham Forest have been out of the limelight for some time now; it’s their turn to amount a significant challenge on the Championship title. Priced at 10/1 to win the league and 10/3 to gain promotion, the two-time European Cup winners are the stand-out value bet of the league.

Signings including Joao Carvalho and Diogo Goncalves have bolstered the attacking threat of Aitor Karanka’s side, with the Spaniard already known for his defensive stubbornness in management. Rumours of West Ham’s Sam Byron joining on loan are also gaining traction, with the £25 million already spent on players this summer looking to be increased. Evangelos Marinakis’s investment has built the foundations for a positive Forest season; a playoff place is considered a minimum by some fans.

At 10/1, Lewis Grabban is a good price to win the top goalscorer award in a league he is very comfortable in.

Stoke City are the clear favourites with the bookies at a price of 5/1. Looking to bounce straight back up, the Potters now have Gary Rowett at the helm after he paved the way for Frank Lampard to take over at Derby County. Spending big, also, Stoke have recruited the likes of Benik Afobe, Tom Ince and James McClean to replace the quality left behind by the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri (Liverpool) and Ramadan Sobhi (Huddersfield) who have retained their places at Premier League clubs.

At 8/1, Afobe is the favourite to land the top goalscorer award in the Championship; if Stoke are to gain promotion, Afobe will surely be at the heart of their successes up front.

Under the leadership of Tony Pulis, Middlesborough’s plight for a return to the Premier League looks in good hands. Experience is crucial in the Championship and Pulis has that in bucketloads; winning half his matches after taking over in December last year shows a real understanding of the job in hand. A complete and deep squad, capable of rotation, ‘Boro are a shoe-in to finish in the top six at a good price of Evens.

Darren Moore’s West Brom are an intriguing proposition going into the new campaign. They looked awful in patches during last season’s relegation, however, Moore revitalised his squad into a near impossible survival after claiming 11 points in their final six games.

Losing goalkeeper Ben Foster and centre back Jonny Evans is an obvious problem for the Baggies. Kyle Bartley has been brought in from Swansea, but with a real lack of movement elsewhere in the transfer window WBA could struggle to ‘boing-boing’ back up. Scrapping around the playoff positions is likely, with a price of 4/5 not offering enough value for a top six finish. Laying West Brom to gain promotion at 3.95 can be found on Betfair.

Leeds United, Aston Villa, Derby County and Swansea City head up the ‘best of the rest’, all with aspirations of making the playoff positions come May next year. Derby County look the best set. Frank Lampard has the intelligence to adapt to life in the managerial hot seat and has made some sensible signings to accompany a decent squad. Mason Mount has been loaned from Chelsea; the 19-year-old impressed last year at Vitesse, as well as on an international stage with four years in the England youth set up. Jody Morris is Lampard’s assistant at Derby; the former Chelsea midfielder has spent the last few years scooping awards with Chelsea’s youth set up, this knowledge would have been crucial to bringing Mount to Pride Park.

7/4 for Derby to finish in the top six can’t be ignored. Lampard is the ultimate professional and won’t be phased by the upcoming season.

El Loco – Marco Bielsa – has taken the reins at Leeds. The fiery Argentine is known for his high press style of football and is expected to inject life into a stagnant club. Whether he will be given the time to drill his philosophy into the Leeds players is the biggest question. Patrick Bamford is the standout signing after moving from Middlesborough.

Leeds have finished in the bottom half of the Championship table in six out of the last seven seasons. Backing this trend to continue offers value at 7/4, assuming the Bielsa project fails.

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