There’s a changing of the guard at the top of the Championship heading into the new season. Obviously Norwich, Sheffield United and Aston Villa have gained promotion and moved on. They were part of an outstanding top six last term, but things are set to change this time around. West Brom and Derby are both struggling, while the promoted sides aren’t entirely convincing.
All of that has resulted in what could be one of the most open Championship races ever. That’s left plenty of options in the betting markets, so we’re here to provide key statistics and give you our predictions for the upcoming campaign.
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Championship Promotion Key Trends and Statistics
Come May, for three teams the only number that matters is the £200million windfall for Premier League promotion. However, looking at the numbers from years gone by could be crucial for us when it comes to sifting through the contenders. Every season has a host of teams hoping for a top-six finish or better, but who will actually do it?
Starting at the top, just six of the last 19 winners of this division have been priced below 10/1. Meanwhile, only twice has a favourite for the title gone on to win the league. That’s a good sign for us because there’s clearly value in the market beyond the current frontrunners.
Another major factor to consider is that relegated sides are frequently overestimated. Dropping down to this level is hard, leaving teams selling key stars, adjusting to the competition and testing them over a gruelling season. That shows over time, as just eight of the last 30 sides relegated from the Premier League have bounced back.
On average, around one relegated team per season claim promotion the following campaign. Only teams who are ready for the fight at this level can make it. That’s why we’ve seen a trend of sustained success from teams who go up. Of the last 24 teams to go up, seven were in the top six the previous season. Meanwhile, half of the promotion places over the last eight seasons have gone to teams who were in the league’s top 12 a year before.
Last season also gave us an insight into how the league is changing. All of the top six were exceeding the league average for passes per move. That means that the teams who do well in the Championship tend to favour short build-up play and possession. That leaves us looking for a side who have the talent and track record to dominate at this level.
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Winner – Cardiff City
While relegated sides haven’t fared well in recent seasons, Cardiff could change that. After all, they’re the best-adjusted side to take on the Championship. They went up in 2017/18, finishing behind a Wolves side who had a squad better than anything in the league this term.
In last summer’s transfer window they reinforced with talents from the second tier. Signings from Preston, Norwich, Bristol City and QPR were meant to lead their survival push. However, they have set them up well for this campaign. The Bluebirds have improved basically the same team which conceded only 39 goals in this league two seasons ago. That bodes well, as 11 of the last 14 seasons have seen the Championship’s strongest defence gain promotion.
We also have to remember that Cardiff are led by Neil Warnock, who has a record eight promotions to his name in the Football League. That’s the perfect choice to have leading their charge. Warnock has already added to the side this summer with more talent, which has us backing the Bluebirds for the title at 10/1 with bet365.
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Top Two Finish – Leeds
Leeds suffered disappointments in the league campaign and the playoffs last term, but they should challenge again. Seven of the last eight seasons have seen one of the losing playoff contenders go on to win promotion. With West Brom and Derby losing key players and taking risks with new managers, Leeds look the most stable option to continue the streak.
Bielsa will need to find a way around their issues this term. However, the Yorkshire club are risking it all this term. They’ve taken on Helder Costa on loan and agreed to stump up for him next summer, Jack Clarke left and returned for a year-long loan while Marcelo Bielsa is staying for the final year of his contract. Leeds have a lot on the line, but we’re backing them to make the top two at 11/5 with Betfair.
We also think Leeds are well priced to finish as this season’s top Yorkshire club. Their opposition in that market includes Middlesbrough, Huddersfield, Sheffield Wednesday, Hull and Barnsley. We don’t expect any of those three to challenge for automatic promotion this term, making Leeds a tempting 6/4 with bet365 to top their regional rivals.
Top Six Finish – Brentford
After establishing themselves in the second tier, this could finally be Brentford’s year for promotion. They’re a side who frequently sell stars for huge fees and then shop smart with the windfall. However, things seem a little different this time with a push to keep their top names. Splashing out on Pontus Jansson is a clear statement of intent, as he compliments a talented, young squad.
They’ve already been a fixture in the top half, with five straight top 11 finishes. Last season looked set to be the strongest of them until Dean Smith jumped ship to lead Aston Villa to promotion. Brentford could be set for a brilliant season, but a playoff spot must be their minimum aim. We’re backing the Bees for a top-six finish at 2/1 with BetVictor.
You’ve seen our winner predictions, but what about the other end of the table? Click here for all our Championship relegation betting tips and predictions.