Before becoming a Sports Journalist for Free Super Tips, Aaron spent three years studying Sports Journalism at the University of Sunderland while taking in the Black Cats' 'glory years' under Martin O'Neill. Now back in Northern Ireland he turns niche stats into predictions for FST, while he's one of the few people on this island who is equally comfortable at Windsor Park and the Aviva.
The last two Championship winners went up looking a cut above the rest of the division. That isn’t likely to be the case this season, with a very tight group of sides pushing for promotion. You can find nine sides who are priced at 5/1 or lower to make it to the Premier League.
Newly relegated duo Stoke and West Brom are sitting high in the betting, as the pair aim for an immediate return to the top flight. Meanwhile, the bookies see at least seven Championship sides who can pose a threat to the newly relegated sides this season.
Also See: Premier League Outright Betting Tips
Championship Winners: Middlesbrough
Middlesbrough started last season as the favourites for the title. Garry Monk couldn’t build on that last term, while Tony Pulis took charge and came up short. They lost out in the play-offs last season, but that wasn’t a side built for Pulis and his style of play. He’s been hard at work to turn things around this time, and they look much better prepared than they did when they were title favourites 12 months ago.
No one expect Pulis to play attractive football, you know what you’re getting with the former West Brom boss. He knows his approach pretty well by this point, and that saw moves made for defensive reinforcements over the summer. Paddy McNair is a versatile option who can provide power in midfield or defence. Aden Flint seems like a great buy, and the centre-half will offer a goal threat from set-plays.
With such a competitive season ahead, any side who can find consistency quickly will expect to be in the mix. Of the many things said about Pulis, consistent is very much one of them. While he style doesn’t produce great comebacks or inventive attacking play, he will have his players up and running pretty quickly, and we expect Boro to be the most stable group among those promotion contenders.
Overall, Middlesbrough have improved on the side which looked good for promotion last term. With defensive solidity and experience now bedded in, it’s hard to look past Boro this term. Pulis may have been joined in the Championship by former clubs West Brom and Stoke, but we see him proving a point against them. We see them topping the pile come the end of the campaign, so Middlesbrough are our tip to finish the season as champions.
Top Scorer: Matej Vydra
We’ve seen a real tug of war in the Championship this season, with Leeds pushing to take Matej Vydra from Derby. Last season’s top scorer was looking for a top flight switch following the Rams’ loss in the play-offs. Leeds were the only side to register serious interest, and the forward’s wage demands ended that deal.
That means Derby have a clinical forward to call upon, and that will be a boost to rookie manager Frank Lampard. The new boss at Pride Park has moved to install a passing style of play. That should see the Rams playing more open football, and their transfer moves so far certainly reflect that.
The additions of Mason Mount and Florian Jozefzoon make Derby even more creative than last season. Given that Vydra had enough chances to take the golden boot last year, he’ll be hoping for better with a more attacking side. We see the Rams having a strong season, and Vydra’s firepower is likely to be a key aspect.
Top Scorer: Leon Clarke
A key part of Sheffield United’s impressive return to the second tier last season was Leon Clarke’s scoring form. The striker hit 19 goals last season, a tally beaten by just two players. That’s a great impact for a forward with a newly promoted side. With the Blades aiming for a top six push this time around, we think they’re going to be looking towards Clarke as a big part of their push for the Premier League.
For a man who finished two goals shy of last season’s top scorer, Clarke is certainly being overpriced for a run at this season’s golden boot. Sheffield United will have improved for their year back in the Championship, while they’ve made signings with an eye on promotion yet again. That should be a boost to Clarke, who with a little more consistency could end up leading the way in the scoring charts. He’s expected to have more competition for a starting berth, and his biggest let-down last season was complacency. With more pressure, he could really kick on in front of goal.
We think the Blades’ forward will impress this year, and we see him as someone worth getting onside in the golden boot race. His price looks tempting, and with most bookies going four places each-way on the top scorer front, he’s certainly worth an each-way bet ahead of the new campaign.
Top Scorer: Danny Graham
The former Swansea and Sunderland striker has seen his former clubs struggle in recent years. However, Danny Graham has had better times, as he’s taken up a starring role for Blackburn. His 17 goals last season fired Rovers back to the Championship, as he became a focal point of Tony Mowbray’s attack.
The former Celtic boss likes an attacking brand of football, and he’ll be relying on Graham to fire them to safety this season. Graham has been impressive at Ewood so far, and with Blackburn boosting their creativity in midfield, he should have a strong season in front of goal. We see Rovers having a solid campaign, and with their attacking presence, Graham seems like a great each way bet with his huge price considered.
He should improve on the 12 goals he scored in 2016/17, when the club dropped out of the Championship in dismal fashion. With a stronger, more attacking side supporting him now, the forward seems like a real dark horse to top the scoring charts.
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