You may remember that last week we brought you our preview of the forthcoming league season in Leagues One and Two, well this week we are moving up to The Championship and the 24 teams that will start the campaign with ambitions to join the big boys in the Premier League the following season.
It promises to be a very exciting year ahead in The Championship with a number of intriguing storylines. Fulham lost manager Scott Parker who has made the switch to rivals Bournemouth over the summer. Marco Silva, the former Watford and Everton manager has been appointed as Parker’s replacement at Craven Cottage.
Valerien Ismael has moved from Barnsley to West Brom after he guided Barnsley to the fringes of the playoff race last season and the Frenchman has already started shaking things up at the club.
It promises to be an intriguing year ahead as teams seek to join the wealthy Premier League via promotion and of course, if you are interested in having a bet on the outcome of the season, them bet365 Sport is a great option given that the site offers a fantastic selection of bets throughout the season on the Championship.
Fans based in the United States can also get excellent betting on soccer from all over the world at BetRivers Sportsbook, which operates in a number of states across the country where sports betting is permitted.
Let’s now begin our preview of the best bets in the Championship this season by looking at how things ended last season across the division.
The Championship – 2020/21 Data
- Champions – Norwich City (97 pts)
- Also Promoted To The Premier League – Watford (91 pts), Brentford (playoffs)
- Lost In Playoffs – Swansea City, Barnsley, Bournemouth
- Relegated From The Championship – Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham United, Wycombe Wanderers
- Promoted From League One – Hull City, Peterborough United, Blackpool
- Relegated From The Premier League – Sheffield United, West Brom, Fulham
The Championship – 2021/22 Season Preview & Tips
There can be a huge gulf between teams in the Championship. It can include teams that were recently in the Premier League and who have generally excellent resources (Swansea City, Fulham, Sheff Utd and West Brom to name but a few) and teams that have spent the majority of their life in the lower leagues (Blackpool, Hull City, Barnsley, Peterborough United).
Add to that the fact that some teams have some notable financial difficulties (Derby County for example) and it all makes for a very interesting season where almost anybody could come through the pack to make a challenge for the two outright promotion spots, as well as the third and final spot available via the playoffs.
Usually, newly relegated teams do well in the Championship, but that is not always the case. Huddersfield struggled last season, while Norwich and Watford regained promotion at the first attempt. A salutary warning for teams that dropped out of the Premier League last season and who want to bounce back at the first attempt.
So who are the teams we think will earn promotion, a playoff spot and who will be relegated? Let’s take a closer look.
- The Championship – Outright Winners – Fulham 11/2
For me, looking at the quality of their squad, their excellent appointment as a new manager following the departure of Scott Parker, plus the fact that they know how to get promoted from this division having done so recently, Fulham look the best bet to land the Championship trophy at the end of the season.
Aleksander Mitrovic will score plenty of goals for them this season and with a number of quality players still at the club, plus some astute signings and a good manager, the side from Craven Cottage will likely be the team to beat for me this season.
I don’t think they will run away with the league title as Norwich did last season, but I do feel they have enough quality to finish top of the pile come May.
The Championship – Promoted – Q.P.R (7/1), Stoke City (9/2)
Joining Fulham in the Premier League next season I think will be two teams that may come from a pack that most people feel stand a better chance of a playoff spot. That said, I have been really impressed with the business that QPR have done this season and having finished last season strongly, I think that if they can iron out a few issues with consistency, then they have the potential to push on hard this year and make a surprise challenge for promotion.
I think Stoke City will be the team to come through the playoffs to clinch promotion. I think Michael O’Neill is a fantastic manager and after a slow start last season stymied their chances of a genuine promotion push, I think he’ll have learned a great deal from that. He’s also had another year to mould his squad and I think this time around, Stoke will be one of the toughest teams to beat in this division and will be one of the best defensively I’m sure.
- The Championship – Playoff Places – Nottingham Forest (2/1), Bournemouth (6/4), West Brom (4/6)
If Stoke City are going to win the playoffs, then who will be the teams that miss out? I think Nottingham Forest are long overdue a run at promotion and I think this time around, they have enough quality to be in the battle for a playoff spot. I also feel Bournemouth and West Brom have so much quality throughout their teams that they should be in with a shout not just of a playoff spot, but also automatic promotion, even if they fall a little short.
I do think the race for the playoffs will be very open however and I can see the likes of Swansea, Cardiff, Middlesbrough, Sheffield United, Reading and Preston all being in the mix as we head to he business end of the season.
- The Championship – Relegated – Derby County (5/6), Peterborough United (3/1), Huddersfield Town (10/3)
Ordinarily, Derby County would be nowhere near this list, but their financial issues and the fact that the club is struggling so severely does make me wonder if they may be hit with a penalty over the course of the season, which will likely be in the form of a points deduction and that could well do for Derby, as it did Sheffield Wednesday last season.
I also feel that Peterborough United will find the step up from League One a very difficult one to make and after struggling last season, I think Huddersfield are also in danger of dropping down another division as they have not really made any progress since last year and I don’t see any real direction at the club at the moment.
I expect Blackpool, Coventry City, Luton and perhaps Millwall to also be involved in the battle to avoid the drop but I feel those teams should have enough to stay up.
- The Championship – Leading Goalscorer – Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham) – 8/1
I mentioned that Aleksander Mitrovic will score plenty of goals for Fulham this season and I think that having grabbed almost 30 goals the last time he played in the Championship, he is a very good pick to replicate that again this season.
Mitrovic is rarely injured and his physical strength, power and nose for a goal make him exceptionally dangerous at this level. I think Championship defences are going to have a tough time dealing with him this season and I expect him to be good for at least 25-30 goals this year.
I can see the likes of Adam Armstrong, Kieffer Moore, Charlie Austin and Rhian Brewster pushing him hard this season, but I still feel Mitrovic is the man to back here.
*All odds shown were correct with bet365 Sport at the time of writing on Wednesday 4th August 2021.