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Championship 2017/18 preview: Top tips for all outright markets

01 Aug | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Championship 2017/18 preview: Top tips for all outright markets

We assess the best bets for promotion, relegation and more, as English football's most unpredictable division gets back underway.

Champions

The doom and gloom that consumed Middlesbrough {ODDS:161495722:7/1} throughout a miserable solo Premier League campaign has been eradicated by a progressive summer.

The Teessiders have appointed Garry Monk, and spent £20m on strikers Britt Assombalonga and Ashley Fletcher to complement a defence that conceded just nine goals more than Arsenal last season.

But Fulham may just prove untouchable.

Slavisa Jokanovic’s side {ODDS:161495719:17/2} ended last season in blistering fashion, losing just two of their last 17 league matches to finish as joint-top goalscorers, before missing out to Reading in the play-off semi-finals.

Having, so far, kept hold of several key men, including Ryan Fredericks, Tom Cairney, Sone Aluko, and their boss, the Cottagers will surely be in the mix again.

Promotion

Steve Bruce has led four different promotion campaigns – two apiece with Birmingham and Hull – and it is that, rather than Aston Villa’s underwhelming 2016/17 campaign, that inspires a price of {ODDS:161495744:2/1} for him to repeat the trick.

The challenge for Bruce, though, is producing a side as good as the sum of parts including Terry, Chris Samba, Henri Lansbury, Jack Grealish and Jonathan Kodjia.

Similar questions hover over the star-studded Sheffield Wednesday {ODDS:161495747:100/30}, and Wolves {ODDS:161495752:4/1}.

Carlos Carvalhal’s side have fallen short in the play-offs in two successive years, but another summer recruitment drive for Championship Galacticos – the latest former Premier League player to sign is George Boyd – hints at stagnation rather than energetic progression.

Meanwhile, arguably the league’s biggest subplot is the Jorge Mendes-inspired revolution at Molineux, with the signings of Ruben Neves and Diogo Jota particularly tantalising.

Whether Wolves can hit upon a promotion-winning formula at the first attempt, though, remains the doubt.

All of which leaves Derby {ODDS:161495749:4/1} and Norwich {ODDS:161495746:7/2} as attractive options.

Rams boss Gary Rowett has prioritised building a ‘Championship-ready’ team this season, after years of recruitment the like of which could see Villa and Sheffield Wednesday disappoint this time around.

The sales of Will Hughes and Tom Ince prove that the impressive former Birmingham boss favours resilience over flair, and he may well hit upon a winning method at a club that should have been promoted so often.

New Norwich boss Daniel Farke, meanwhile, follows in David Wagner’s footsteps from Borussia Dortmund II to the Championship, and has a better-looking squad than his compatriot took up last season.

Alex Pritchard, in particular, is a player to watch, and his team have a serious chance.

Play-offs

Fifteen teams are priced at 7/2 or shorter in what is set to be another nonsensically unpredictable scrap for a top-six spot.

Forgive us for not detailing everybody, but – just like last season – there are very few teams who will not have one eye on the play-offs.

Perhaps the task will prove too steep for Burton, Millwall and Bolton. Maybe Barnsley and Ipswich. Other than that, it’s game on.

Hull {ODDS:161495784:2/1} and Sunderland {ODDS:161495785:2/1} appear clubs in crisis but have both made waves in the transfer market and appointed well in the dugout.

Despite the last two losing finalists reaching the top six again the following season, Reading will do well to replace Danny Williams in midfield and are worth swerving at {ODDS:161495788:5/2}, while Leeds {ODDS:161495787:9/4} – despite another busy summer – could find themselves crowded out by too many other decent teams, too.

But we would be foolish to rule out Championship-specialist Neil Warnock and Cardiff at {ODDS:161495791:7/2}. If he can get them going, having spent over £4m this summer, that is a tempting price.

Most of the places, though, are likely to be filled by the above promotion-chasers.

Relegation

Unlike last season – when it was clear that Rotherham were doomed early – there are unlikely to be any calamitous efforts.

Indeed, it’s striking how few of the 24 clubs are inexperienced at this level.

Only Burton {ODDS:161495838:6/4} and Aston Villa have not spent more than one season at this level in the last decade, and the former are understandably favourites to go down this time around.

But while Nigel Clough’s side – along with newly-promoted pair Millwall {ODDS:161495836:9/4} and Bolton {ODDS:161495837:2/1} – are sure to be in the conversation, they look short after last season’s impressive efforts, so there is much better value to be found elsewhere.

QPR {ODDS:161495834:3/1} have been quiet in the transfer market this summer as they continue to count the cost of outlandish attempts to go big under Mark Hughes and Harry Redknapp.

And it is they and Ipswich {ODDS:161495833:100/30} who stand out as vulnerable.

The Championship’s longest-serving club slipped alarmingly from regular play-off hopefuls to 16th last season and with a fee only paid for one player this summer – Joe Garner – a bottom-three finish would come as no surprise.

Top Goalscorer

As easy as it is just to plump for the favourite, Britt Assombalonga {ODDS:173884986:8/1} has everything going for him.

The £14m forward joins one of the league’s best teams in the knowledge that Championship goals come easily to him, and will surely flourish.

Jonathan Kodjia {ODDS:173884985:8/1} was prolific for Aston Villa before injury last season, but may take some time to get back to full fitness, while Chris Wood {ODDS:173884987:9/1} has never had a season like 2016/17 so is difficult to back with confidence at a short price.

Norwich’s Nelson Oliveira {ODDS:173884990:16/1} will spearhead a team full of creativity, while if you’re on the hunt for value, the potentially-lethal Matej Vydra {ODDS:173885007:40/1} has, according to Rowett, come back from his summer break looking sharp.

If he discovers his best form consistently, he is a guarantee to go close.

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