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English Championship Preview

The English Championship returns this Friday with some enticing odds on offer!
The English Championship returns this Friday with some enticing odds on offer!
Football fans around the globe will rejoice, with another tedious week of pre-season football coming to a close. And while we’re still a week away from the return of the Premier League, its younger sibling, the EFL Championship, returns this coming Friday. The English second tier is a firm favourite amongst punters, mainly due to the incredible value that it offers week in and week out. Speaking of value, let’s see if we can cash in right from the outset, shall we!

Friday 4 August

13/10 Sunderland | Draw 22/10 | Derby 2/1 (20:45)

The Black Cats begin their quest to return to the Premier League with a tie against a Derby County side that managed a ninth-place finish last season. The hosts endured a torrid time in the English top tier last year and have subsequently lost star striker Jermain Defoe, who moved to Bournemouth during the transfer window. Despite losing Defoe, Sunderland still have an extremely talented squad to call upon. I think they will be looking to lay down a marker right from the get-go, which is why I will be backing them to claim the three points here.

19/20 Nottingham Forest | 47/20 | Millwall 26/10 (20:45)

Nottingham Forest will be looking to atone for what was a rather poor showing in the 2016/17 Championship season when they host newly promoted Millwall this Friday evening. The hosts could only muster up a 21st-place finish last season and avoided dropping into the third tier by only two points. Millwall, on the other hand, had a much better campaign in League One, which saw them promoted to the Championship via the play-offs. I’m always a bit nervy about a game between a side who just staved off relegation and one that has just been promoted. As such, I’m going to avoid the outright winner market and tip the Both Teams to Score – No – market which is currently available at 17/20, as neither side was prolific in front of goal last season.

Saturday 5 August

31/20 Wolves | 21/10 | Middlesbrough 7/4 (16:00)

Next up we have the favourites to win the league travelling to the Molineux Stadium to take on Wolverhampton Wanderers. It’s no surprise that the bookies have installed Middlesbrough as favourites to win the league as the men from the North East of England have a solid squad and a plethora of players who have experience in this division. The price of 7/4 seems a gift for the Middlesbrough win here, as the Wolves management haven’t really made any significant improvements to the side that finished 15th last season. Get on the away win!

8/10 Bristol City | 26/10 | Barnsley 31/10 (16:00)

Two sides who finished mid-table in the Championship last season go head-to-head this Saturday. Neither Bristol nor Barnsley impressed on the defensive side last year with the two teams averaging concession rates of a shade under two goals per game. And with both teams not really investing in their defence during the off-season, I think we may see goals here. As such, I’m all over the Totals – Over 2.5 Goals – market which is currently trading at 15/20.

33/20 QPR | 22/10 | Reading 31/20 (16:00)

Reading being favourites away to QPR tells you all you need to know about the hosts. The Londoners endured a dire Championship campaign last year and were lucky to avoid the drop as they finished only two points above safety. They face a tough start this year as Reading will be desperate to build on the third-place finish that they managed last season. QPR seem destined to go the way of Blackburn and Leeds, plummeting into the low football tiers. I can see them getting beaten by a fierce Reading outfit.

19/10 Preston | 43/20 | Sheffield Wednesday 14/10 (16:00)

Preston North End and Sheffield Wednesday are next up to do battle. The visitors enjoyed an immaculate campaign last season, which saw them finish the regular campaign in fourth place. Preston also gave a solid account of themselves in the Championship last term as they secured an 11th-place finish. I’m going to cop out again here and avoid the straight win market as this is a game that I’m really undecided on. Both teams have decent front lines who should be able to bag a plethora of goals this term. I’m going to tip the Totals Over 2.5 Goals – Yes – market.

1/1 Fulham | 49/20 | Norwich 49/20 (16:00)

Saturday’s action continues with a clash between the Cottagers and the Canaries. Fulham enjoyed a solid campaign during the 2016/17 season but were unable to advance through to the final play-off games as they went down to Reading over two legs in the first of the play-off ties. Norwich, on the other hand, missed out on the play-off places by 10 points as they finished the campaign in eighth spot. I’m leaning towards the Fulham win here, they looked really good last season and they’ll be desperate to get their campaign off to a winning start.

13/10 Ipswich Town | 43/20 | Birmingham 2/1 (16:00)

Next up, its Ipswich Town taking on Birmingham. The two sides finshed in the bottom eight last year and will be desperate to avoid slipping into a relegation battle this time around. The main cause for their poor showings was their respective inability to score goals. With neither side really bringing in more firepower, I’m going to be having a strike on the Totals – Under 2.5 Goals – market at 13/20.

16/10 Burton | 21/10 | Cardiff 17/10 (16:00)

Burton will be looking for a much-improved showing this year but they face a tricky tie on the opening weekend with a Cardiff side, who finished eight places above them last season coming to town. The hosts are slight favourites with the bookies, but I honestly think we will see a draw here - Burton drew 13 games last year while Cardiff drew 11. It’s slightly on the speculative side but my gut is telling me to get on the stalemate at a kind 21/10.

21/20 Sheffield United | 24/10 | Brentford 24/10 (16:00)

Sheffield United will mark their return to the Championship when they take on last year’s 10th place finishers, Brentford. The hosts were all-conquering in League One last year, winning the third tier by an astonishing 14 points. This has seen the bookies install them as short favourites here. While United were immaculate last season, the Championship is a massive step up in class and Brentford, who had a solid 2016/17 campaign in England’s second tier, should not be underestimated. It’s slightly left field but my money is on the away side here.

1/1 Aston Villa | 9/4 | Hull City 26/10 (18:30)

Two sides who had many a decent battle in the Premier League half a decade ago square off in Saturday's final fixture, which by all accounts, should be an absolute cracker. Villa have made some brilliant signings during the off season with both John Terry and Christopher Samba moving to England’s second tier. And while Hull have a solid squad that contains a lot of Premier League experience, I just can’t see them getting one over a Villa side who will be challenging for the automatic promotion places this term. The Villa win is my banker for the week – get on at even money.

Sunday 6 August

7/4 Bolton | 43/20 | Leeds 15/10 (17:30)

Bolton and Leeds will bring the curtain down on the opening week of the Championship season when they lock horns at the Macron Stadium in Sunday’s solitary fixture. The hosts will mark their return to England’s second tier as they were the other side who gained promotion from League One. Leeds also enjoyed a rather fruitful 2016/17 campaign, although, they will be bitterly disappointed having missed out on the play-offs by just five points. Like Millwall, I think Bolton may struggle against Championship opposition during the opening few weeks. Leeds really did look good last season and should prove a handful again this term. Get on the visitors at 15/10!

TREBLE @ 8/1
Sunderland Win 13/10
Fulham Win 1/1
Aston Villa Win 1/1

Written by Darry Worthington