Promoted: Middlesbrough

After Chris Wilder’s appointment as manager last November, Middlesbrough won as many points as Bournemouth, who went on to finish second in the Championship.

While that tally only places Boro joint-sixth in that time period, it is enough to be confident Wilder has them right on track to significantly challenge this time around.

The 54-year-old required one sighter season at Sheffield United before leading them to automatic promotion at the second time of asking in 2019 to secure his reputation as one of the best English managers going. He has strengthened his squad with Ryan Giles, who looks a tasty prospect at left-wing-back after delivering nine assists in 21 appearances for Cardiff last season.

Even after the exciting signing of Marcus Forss from Brentford, they still lack enough quality strikers – but Wilder has a history of wheeling and dealing in that position to some success, so we can be confident that they will have a suitable No. 9 in place come the end of August.

Top-six finish: Coventry

By most measures, Coventry were a top-six team last season.

Mark Robins’ side had the second-most shots, and ranked fourth for both open play xG and open play xG against. To perform that well and end up 12th with a goal difference of just +1 is somewhat freakish. They were also one of two teams to do the double over champions Fulham.

A big part of their success was Premier League midfielder-in-waiting Callum O’Hare, who looks set to join Burnley. The Sky Blues have a fantastic track record of recruitment in recent years, however, and will back themselves to replace him.

Key striker Viktor Gyokeres looks set to stick around and if he can at least match last season’s goal tally of 17 then this bet will go close.

Relegated: Wigan

Wigan won League One last season despite scoring the ninth-fewest goals and generating the 13th-highest open play xG in the division.

Their solid defence, impressive set-pieces and considerable motivation – fuelled by off-the-field injustices that nearly crippled the club – saw them over the line, but may not be enough to save them this term.

They haven’t yet moved to solve their creativity issues in the transfer market, leaving a hard-working team that could just lack the quality to pack a punch often enough.

The last seven Championship campaigns have seen one promoted team return immediately to League One and Wigan look the likeliest candidates to keep that sequence going.

Top goalscorer: Emil Riis Jakobsen (e/w)

After bagging 20 goals, 17 in the league, for bottom-half Preston in his first season in English football, Riis should take us very close at long odds.

That tally saw the Dane finish eighth on the top scorers’ list and would have got him up to sixth in the two previous campaigns.

Preston should kick on under Ryan Lowe, who wants his team to play front-foot, exciting football, recently remarking that his team now has the quality to put “them on a plate” for his main striker.

Jakobsen can become a talisman for North End. He will play the vast majority of minutes and is on penalty duty, so ticks the boxes we’re looking for in this market.

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