SkyBet Championship Outrights, Betting Tips, Predictions & Odds
The 2017/18 Championship season is nearly here and it promises to be another competitive campaign. Newcastle and Brighton were the dominant forces last time around but things could well be much tighter this year with a large number of clubs harbouring Premier League dreams. Aston Villa and Middlesbrough are the bookies favourites but Sunderland and Hull will also want to be in the mix having dropped out of the top flight last term.
The likes of Leeds, Norwich and Derby are also hopeful with young managers at the helm while big-spending Wolves are another team to look out for. At the other end, newly promoted Bolton and Millwall will be hoping to steer clear of relegation trouble while last season’s League One champions Sheffield United have loftier ambitions and are gearing up for a resumption of hostilities with Steel City rivals Wednesday, another of the promotion hopefuls.
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SkyBet Championship Winners Prediction
You’ll struggle to find any side available at shorter than 7/1 to win this season’s Championship which is an indication of how open the field is. It could be a campaign when no one side or group of teams, breaks clear of the rest but one team that might be capable of doing that is Fulham. Having endured a torrid time of it, since dropping out of the top flight, they finally came good last season under Slavisa Jokanovic, a manager who knows how to get out of this league, having guided Watford to automatic promotion as recently as 2015.
The Serb has gradually got Fulham playing his way and they seemed to get better and better as last season progressed to ultimately secure a play-off place. In terms of the quality of their football and attacking threat, certainly in the second half of last term, they were the most impressive Championship side and finished up with the joint best goal tally in the division.
The fear was that they could lose key players this summer, but their star midfielder and new captain Tom Cairney has just signed a new long-term contract extension. They have some exciting young talent too that will only get better, particularly 17 year old full-back Ryan Sessegnon, who along with fellow England U19 international Tayo Edun has also extended his current deal this summer despite Premier League interest.
The Londoners could perhaps do with a few new faces to bolster their squad but they usually use the loan market well and at odds as long as 9/1, backing Fulham to win the Championship could be worth a flutter.
SkyBet Championship Promotion Betting Tips
Aston Villa are the favourites to win the title with some bookies. That may come as a surprise given their 13th place finish last season and given they showed no signs of playing title-winning football at any point last term, it’s hard to see them dominating the division from the off.
However something would also have to go very wrong for Villa not to be strongly in the promotion frame. Although he has never won the Championship as a manager, Steve Bruce knows better than anyone what it takes to get out of this league having won promotion four times in the past. While he’s still trying to find the right balance to this Villa team, most of the ingredients required for a promotion push are in place.
Villa’s defence was among the best in the division last term and will only be bolstered by the arrival of John Terry, who will add genuine leadership from the back. Up top, Jonathan Kodjia offers guaranteed goals and Scott Hogan could do likewise if he can rediscover his best form. In terms of personnel, at this level at least, the midfield isn’t short on quality either and if Bruce can get the shape right, Villa should have a much stronger season this time around and odds of 12/5 for them to secure promotion look generous.
When you look at most of the sides perceived to be in the mix for promotion, you quickly realise there are big question-marks against most of them. Numerous sides are starting the campaign with new managers, many of whom have no experience in this league. Meanwhile other teams have either lost key players or in the case of Leeds, lost the manager that helped revitalise them last term.
However with Sheffield Wednesday, there is absolutely no reason to doubt their top six credentials. They’ve managed that in the last two seasons with essentially the same squad and the same manager in Carlos Carvalhal. With consistency and stability, very much the buzz-words at Hillsborough this summer, they should be strong challengers again and following two agonising play-off defeats, they are well equipped to go one better this term.
Wednesday have been strong at home throughout their two years under Carvalhal and they ground out some impressive wins on the road last season thanks to some well-organised defensive performances. Up top, they have arguably the strongest forward-line in the division with talisman Fernando Forestieri, Steven Fletcher, Sam Winnall and Gary Hooper joined by main summer signing Jordan Rhodes, a prolific scorer at this level.
They can be backed at 7/2 to win promotion and odds as long as 11/8 to finish in the top six which look to offer value.
Why not the recently relegated sides?
This isn’t the strongest group of sides to have come down from the Premier League. Sunderland were dreadful last season under David Moyes and they’d have gone down with far fewer than the fairly pitiful 24 points they managed were it not for the goals of Jermaine Defoe, who has since left the club. Simon Grayson has been appointed their new boss and has done great things at Preston in recent years but with summer spending yet to top £1million despite the big money sale of Jordan Pickford, it’s hard to see the Mackems bouncing back up.
There’s more optimism up the road in Middlesbrough, who are the favourites to win promotion with many bookies, having spent big this summer. However there’s a few reasons why you have to doubt their credentials. Firstly they were also very poor last season in the top flight, finishing with even fewer wins than Sunderland and 12 points from safety. Aitor Karanka the man who guided them to promotion in 2015-16 has gone and there have been many comings and goings on the playing side since then too, so new boss Gary Monk will be under pressure to gel this side together quickly.
His two major acquisitions are also questionable moves. Boro spent a club record £15million fee on Forest forward Britt Assombalonga, which seems a lot of money to pay for an extremely injury-prone player. Close to £10million was also forked out on another forward, Martin Braithwaite of Toulouse. The Danish international has done well in Ligue 1 in recent seasons but is not a prolific scorer and may take time to settle in English football.
As for Hull, they’ve lost a host of key players already this summer with the likes of Harry Maguire, Andrew Robertson, Tom Huddlestone and Curtis Davies all departing and precious little coming in the other way. With the unpopular Assem Allam still owning the club, any positive vibes brought by their survival battle last season, are also likely to have departed. On the face of it, former Russia boss Leonid Slutsky is an odd choice to replace Marco Silva who has perhaps wisely jumped ship and joined Watford.
Championship Relegation Predictions
The relegation battle this season is also likely to be tight. In Rotherham’s absence, there are no obvious no-hopers and even relegation favourites Burton are as long as 2/1 for the drop with some bookies.
One side you do have to fear for is Barnsley, who are also around 2/1 with most bookies to go down. You have to sympathise with Paul Heckingbottom, who was building something pretty special at Oakwell, only for the spine of his young team to be ripped apart over the past two transfer windows. Having already lost promising centre-back Alfie Mawson from his promotion winning side, Conor Hourihane, James Bree and Sam Winnall departed in January and not for huge money. Centre-back Marc Roberts has already left this summer to leave Barnsley looking for their third captain of 2017 and with relatively little of that money being spent on new arrivals, Barnsley’s slump that started in the second half of last season is set to continue.
Some bookies have Bristol City out at 8/1 for the drop but that looks very long given they’ve been involved in the relegation scrap for large chunks of the last two seasons. Inconsistency and defensive problems, which still linger have been responsible for that and boss Lee Johnson still has plenty to prove. What really makes you worry for Bristol City this season is two key departures up top. Tammy Abraham notched 23 Championship goals on loan last season but won’t be back at Ashton Gate this term. Fellow forward Lee Tomlin has also left to join local rivals Cardiff so there’s big pressure on club record signing Famara Diedhiou to fill the void. If the Senegalese striker doesn’t deliver, the Robins will be in real danger of slipping down to League One.
Recently promoted Millwall are another side that could find themselves lacking in the sort of quality needed to beat the drop. They finished 6th in League One last season, a huge 27 points behind champions Sheffield United and although they put in some fine one-off performances, in both the FA Cup and the play-offs, you’d think some investment was needed to give them a fighting chance over the course of a long Championship season. Unfortunately little has been forthcoming, leaving the Lions reliant on a handful of relatively uninspiring free transfers and low profile loan additions. With fellow relegation candidates Burton and Bolton, adding a bit more in terms of Championship experience, they may struggle to stave off an immediate return to the third tier.
Of last season’s top five scorers in the Championship only two will be involved in the division this term in the shape of Aston Villa’s Jonathan Kodjia and Leeds striker Chris Wood. The Kiwi topped the goal-charts last season with 27 but it’s unclear whether new Leeds boss Thomas Christiansen will play to Wood’s strengths in quite the same way. Even if he does, it’d be a huge ask for Wood to repeat what was by far his best season to date in terms of goals.
Kodjia meanwhile managed 19 Championship goals in a Villa side that struggled to create many opportunities for him. That was the same number he’d managed the previous season in an even weaker Bristol City team but things should be better this time around with Villa strong promotion hopefuls. Steve Bruce does have other options up front but Kodjia has already cemented himself as one of the first names on the team-sheet and having shaken off a serious looking injury quicker than expected, he should be ready to go by late August and odds of 9/1 for Kodjia to finish as the Championship’s top scorer look tempting.
Dark Horse – Lasse Vibe
If you fancy a bit of an outside bet, consider putting a few quid on Brentford’s Lasse Vibe at 33/1. The Bees always create plenty of chances and Vibe racked up 15 Championship goals last term despite only being the team’s first-choice striker after the January sale of Scott Hogan. 13 of those goals came from January onwards and he could well pass 20 this season in an attack-minded Brentford side.
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Source: Football News