It still only seems like the 2017/18 football season has just finished. The 2018 FIFA World Cup was a welcome distraction while supporters of sides in the English Football League (EFL) regrouped following another tension-fueled campaign. With several big sides from the Premier League falling into the Championship, the 2018/19 season promises to be as exciting.
When you play a game of cards, you can play terribly and still win. You can have the best poker or blackjack strategy in the world, but your plans can go out of the window with the turn of only one card. It’s the same in the Championship, with most sides in the league capable of beating the other on any given day. It’s what makes wagering on the Championship so unpredictably exciting. However, with a little nous, it’s still possible to pinpoint plenty of profitable opportunities. Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting wagering angles ahead of the 2018/19 EFL Championship season.
The Likely Title Contenders
Parachute payments for the relegated sides from the Premier League now provide such an unfair advantage over the rest of the Championship. With tens of millions of pounds to spend, the newly relegated sides still have the capital to cherry-pick the best players in the Championship, building squads with immense depth. Stoke City stands out as being one of the big contenders for the league title, with new boss Gary Rowett forking out plenty of firepower in the preseason. The likes of Tom Ince and James McClean are seasoned campaigners at the second-tier level and will provide plenty of assists for the likes of Benik Afobe and Mame Biram Diouf, who will create havoc for Championship defenses.
Other intriguing contenders are Nottingham Forest and Leeds. The former has spent big money since another recent takeover, with Lewis Grabban leading the line and former Academy graduate, Michael Dawson, returning home to anchor the back line. Leeds has an enigmatic boss, Marcelo Bielsa, in charge, which will guarantee that there’ll never be a dull game at Elland Road. Bielsa’s high-energy all-out-attack style will see goals most weekends.
Dark Horses for the Playoffs
One side who look well-placed for another tilt at the playoffs is Lee Johnson’s Bristol City. The Robins tailed off toward the back end of last season, cruelly missing out on a top-six finish. However, the City has strengthened well in the summer, with ball-playing defender Adam Webster joining from Ipswich and forward Andreas Weimann signing from Derby. Newly promoted Blackburn recently tore apart Everton in a preseason friendly. The boss Tony Mowbray has retained most of his side, and many promoted sides from League One excel in their first season in the Championship due to that winning momentum, as shown by Sheffield United last term.
It will also be something to see if Alex Neil can take Preston North End one step further from the fringes of the top six into the playoffs. The former Norwich supremo had North End in the seventh spot last term, finishing only two points off in the playoffs. Up-and-coming boss Paul Hurst begins his first season in charge at Ipswich Town after performing miracles at Shrewsbury Town. His high-energy pressing style of play is likely to work well in the Championship, and the Tractor Boys could make a mockery of the bookmakers’ preseason point-of-view, which places them as the third favorites for relegation. Which brings us nicely onto our third and final section.
Who’s for the drop to League One?
It becomes harder each year for sides coming up from League One to stabilize in the Championship due to the money that’s filtering down from the Premier League. Newly promoted Rotherham will have an uphill battle, with a distinct lack of goals probable. Especially since the likes of Jamie Proctor, David Ball and Kyle Vassell have little to no Championship experience.
It will also be something to see if Norwich City progress under Daniel Farke’s second season in charge. The German had a somewhat indifferent first campaign, appearing to struggle to come to terms with the Championship’s rugged style of play. Further signings from Germany this summer suggest Farke is forging ahead with his plans for the squad, but if they still don’t gel, they could be surprise contenders for the drop. It’s also likely to be a long, hard season for the Bolton Wanderers, who have had next to no investment so far this summer and have a squad of players lacking in the spirit given the recent off-field financial problems with the club.