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.
We’re approaching the half-way stage in the Championship, and the lead has changed more often than Paul Pogba’s hair. We’re through over 200 matches in this league campaign, and there’s plenty of excitement and drama to come.
With the final international break out of the way, we face a four month run with no breaks from the club game. That includes another frantic festive period, and runs through 20 rounds of fixtures. We can expect new leaders and strugglers throughout, but that doesn’t mean we don’t know that to expect.
The latest odds shouldn’t change too much, now that we’re three months into the campaign. We have a fair idea of the contenders, and which sides to watch for high scoring games. We’re using this break as a chance to an eye across the statistics so far and the main betting markets to lean a little more about the 2018/19 Championship campaign.
Also See: Latest Championship Betting Tips
Title Favourites – Leeds United
Leeds can be found as even-money favourites for promotion, after sticking in and around the top two in the three months of the campaign so far. However, they have fallen from the top of the tree a few times in the run up to Christmas. Can they sustain a challenge? A look at their manager’s history suggest the latter stages could be a different story.
We took a dive into the numbers earlier this season to look at how Bielsa’s sides tend to finish. His Athletic Bilbao side won five of their last 19 matches in 2011/12, and then just two in the final nine the season after. His Marseille side won half as many games in five months after Christmas than they did in the four months before. With a 46 game Championship season, that’s a worrying trend which could open the door to someone else.
Read More: Analysing Bielsa’s Past
Championship Leaders – Norwich City
That leaves Middlesbrough in the mix, they sit at 6/1 in the standings. So far they’ve shown enough to suggest they’re promotion candidates, losing just twice in 17 matches. That’s a record that no other side in the league can better. They’re just two points off Norwich, and after a consistent start. We’re pleased with their displays so far, having tipped them in our pre-season predictions for the Championship.
Championship Relegation – Ipswich and Bolton
Ipswich are already five points shy of second from bottom Bolton. The basement side have won just once in their first 17 games. They have found themselves cut adrift from the rest of the teams above them, having spent the season at the bottom. Paul Lambert has arrived to change things, but there’s clearly not a lot of faith in him turning it around.
The Tractor Boys have really struggled through the first three months of the campaign. That was predicted by the bookies, who had them pegged for the drop since Mick McCarthy left. As much as the Portman Road support would hate to admit it, they haven’t been able to match the results he got with this side.
Bolton are a side strung together with odd signings and free agents, who have had looming financial problems since the summer. A strong start saw them in the top six very early on, but lately they’ve stun down into the bottom two. They’ve won once in 13 matches to land in a precarious position, and they find themselves odds-on for relegation. Despite only being in the bottom three on goal difference, you can find them as big as 13/8 to stay up this season.
Of course, another side has to join that pair. That’s where things seem less certain in the betting. Third from bottom Hull are nearly 4/1 in places to go down, with Reading set at odds-on to go down. They’re level on points with Bolton, but 20th thanks to a solid goal difference. Paul Clement has won just 25.9% of his games with the Royals, which suggests that he’ll struggle to keep them out of the bottom three for long.
Goal High and Goal Shy
West Brom are an interesting side to keep an eye on, having put together one of the best attacking line-ups outside the top flight. They’ve proved themselves going forward this season, hitting 37 goals in their first 17 games – an average of over two per game.
However, that openness has a downside, with only six teams conceding more goals than the Baggies so far this season. Overall, a huge 89% of their home games have seen both teams score. Darren Moore has work to do as he tries to keep them in the race for a top six finish. In the short term, it seems like West Brom games will continue to see goals.
Read More: Both Teams to Score Betting Tips
Relegation favourites Bolton also feature here. They have a poor defence, but also the worst attacking record in the league. The Trotters aren’t one for a both teams to score accumulator, and neither are title hopefuls Middlesbrough. In typical Tony Pulis style, they’ve seen both teams score in 24% of their games so far.
Boro have the meanest defence in the league – letting in just eight goals in their 17 matches this season. Only two other sides – Swansea and Nottingham Forest – have conceded fewer than one goal per game so far. They have all seen a trend of low scoring games, but no one has managed that quite like Boro. Pulis and his team have seen under 2.5 goals in 82% of their matches so far.
Other Stats and Odds
While we made the point about Leeds tiring in the season, they certainly aren’t doing that in matches. In fact, they have the best second-half record of any side in the division. If we only counted scores from half-time to full-time, Leeds would be five points clear, with only two defeats.
That’s key in this league, which sees games left quite close at half-time. Middlesbrough have the best first half record in the league, which has seen them win six of 17 opening halves so far. They are one of the lowest scoring sides in the league, yet their total of 11 goals before half-time is only one short of the league high. Overall, 98 of the 204 matches in the league so far have been level at half-time.
One of the league’s most interesting stories this season has been the struggles of Brentford. The Bees were league leaders at one stage, and they made a blistering start. There were hopes that with the league’s top scorer Neal Maupay among their ranks, that they would climb back into the top six.
While anything is possible in the Championship, many see the seven point gap between them and the play-offs to be too much. They can be found as short as 1/6 to fail to make the play-offs after tumbling down the table. Their appeals to play Premier League football at Griffin Park next season now look a tad premature.
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