Second-tier promises to be as tight as ever
We saw Wolves and Cardiff gain access to the Premier League promised land last season when finishing first and second in the Championship. Both clubs secured automatic promotion and were eventually joined by Fulham who beat Aston Villa 1-0 in the play-off final.
All three clubs fully deserved their shot at the big league with Wolves deserving champions, Cardiff battling to hold onto the silver medal and The Cottagers beating Derby and Fulham in the play-offs without conceding a goal.
It was back to the drawing board for Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and Derby who came agonisingly close but ended short after failing to avoid the lottery of play-off football. All three are expected to come again and feature near the head of the betting for this season’s title.
Bookmakers have acted fast in putting together their thoughts on how the 2018/19 race will go and have Stoke chalked up as favourites to bounce back at the first time of asking by lifting the trophy. The Potters boast a talented squad despite finishing second-bottom of the division and have, at this stage, an opportunity to improve and come back stronger than before.
If spending the cash they’ll receive from the Premier League wisely in this summer’s transfer market they’ll be in with a big shout but manager Gary Rowett looks set to lose out on England goalkeeper Jack Butland who has been linked to a number of the country’s major clubs including Liverpool and Man Utd. They’ll be well compensated for their talented shot-stopper.
Rowett has recent experience of life at this level and that will give him the edge over some of his main rivals, allowing the team to hit the ground running. Favourite with all major firms but Bet Victor are happy to offer a little more and their 8/1 price tag is the best backers will find at the time of writing. We expect movement on that as they lose certain players and bring in new faces. 3/1 on promotion.
Join Betfred today and get £30 in free bets + 30 free spins
Swansea the challengers
Their main challengers for the gold medal are expected to be another team who recently parachuted down from the top division – Swansea City. The Welsh club ended 18th last season with a final tally of eight wins, nine draws and 21 defeats bringing an end to their time at the head table.
Southampton and safety was just three points better off at the finish line but five defeats in their last five games mean they only had themselves to blame and will miss out on a derby with Cardiff next term.
The Jacks are yet to sort out the club’s vacant manager’s position at the time of writing but whoever they bring in will have a busy summer on his hands, seeing the departure of some big names and working to replace them with fresh faces capable of cutting it in this league. An important few months for Swansea that’ll define how their season goes. Betfred trade 8/1 on Swansea winning the league or 3/1 on them gaining promotion.
If odds compilers are to be believed the relegated teams will complete a clean-sweep with West Brom third favourite at 17/2. The Baggies will be happy to put what was a nightmare season behind them and look to the future after ending bottom of the Premier, winning only six of 38 games and conceding no less than 56 goals. Three of those wins came in the last five games but they finished five points behind Southampton.
Former West Brom player Darren Moore, who played over 100 times for the club and a couple for national side Jamaica, was appointed manager at The Hawthorns in May and hopes to be an inspiration to all. The 44-year-old former defender won half of his six games in temporary charge last season and that was enough to impress the board who acted swiftly to give the newbie the best chance of competing in the coming year.
Moore was also named manager of the month for April but it’s how his transfers go during the off-season that’ll decide how the Championship campaign works out. Another team with a crucial period ahead and they have been linked to bringing Danny Ings in on loan to help boost their chances.
Other teams in the running to win the title are Aston Villa at 10/1, Middlesbrough 10/1, Brentford 20/1, Derby 20/1 and Sheffield United at an eye-catching 25/1.