As usual, the Championship gets an earlier start than the Premier League, so the league will come into focus pretty soon. The first game of the new campaign is on Friday, August 5th when Fulham take on Newcastle. Taking the drop from the Premier League last season along with Newcastle was Aston Villa and Norwich, so will any of those three be able to make an immediate return to the top flight? There will be hesitations there perhaps around Aston Villa, although they are trading at a quote of 9/1 to win the Championship, but it is Newcastle who are going as 2/1 outright favourites to top the second tier next season.
As many players as Newcastle can hold on to, the better they will be from their drop last season. Of course changes need to happen, particularly at the back, but with the expertise there of Rafa Benitez who has stuck with the club, there is optimism abound that they will be playing in the top flight again next season. It’s hard to argue that and they are worth a punt at 21/20 with online betting site Boylesports for a Top 2 Finish. What of Aston Villa and Norwich though? This is a big drop for both, but Norwich should be fairly well equipped to make it back up.
The Canaries put together a good campaign in the 2014/15 season to earn promotion, coming through the play offs, so they know what this is all about. After season after season of struggling at the foot of the top flight, how will stand up to be one of the perceived better teams taking on the challenge at the top of the second tier. There was frankly, so many issues with Aston Villa last season that their path back to the top may be a lot more difficult than that of Newcastle and Norwich.
But of course there are other good options around on those who missed out on a place in the top flight last season. Brighton would have to be at the top of the main contenders there. They were in brilliant form for most of the season, but narrowly missed out on goal difference on earning the second automatic spot and then lost out surprisingly in the play offs. If they can take what they did last season and build on it, namely a very good attack, they should be in the mix for at least another shot at promotion through the play offs.
Derby are likely going to be there or thereabouts in the title race. They looked for the most part that they were really going to challenge for an automatic promotion spot, but their challenge fell away really over January and most of February. They couldn’t stick the pace and then slipped out of the play offs when more was expected of them. The Championship can be a quickly fluctuating league and there are pieces in place at the likes of Ipswich, Brentford and even QPR that could click well enough, if added to from last season to make an assault on promotion.
Remember though that you can back a team to win promotion, which isn’t the same as backing them to win the league outright. You have good variety in markets here with Promotion, To Win The Play Offs and Top Two Finish.
Championship Winner Odds
Newcastle 7/4, Aston Villa 8/1, Norwich 9/1, Derby 12/1, Brighton 14/1, Wolves 14/1, Sheffield Wednesday 16/1, 33/1 bar
Championship Top 2 Finish Odds
Newcastle 21/20, Aston Villa 4/1, Norwich 10/3, Derby 11/2, Brighton 6/1, Sheffield Wednesday 7/1, Wolves 6/1, Cardiff 12/1, QPR 12/1, Fulham 14/1, Ipswich 14/1, Wigan 18/1, Brentford 18/1, bar 22/1
Championship Promotion Odds
Newcastle 8/15, Aston Villa 2/1, Norwich 11/4, Derby 10/3, Brighton 4/1, Sheffield Wednesday 9/2, Wolves 9/2, QPR 8/1, Fulham 8/1, Ipswich 91/, Cardiff 10/1, 12/1 bar
So the new season all starts with Newcastle’s first steps in trying to get back to the top flight. They travel to Craven Cottage on Friday, August 5th for a game which they are a quote of 6/5 to win. Then comes a big fixture list on Saturday 6th including a mouthwatering clash between Derby and Brighton. The Rams are a 7/6 quote to put the win on the board there with Brighton out at 14/5. It could be a great start and confidence booster for the Seagulls to land a win there. Having lost three of the last four seasons in the play-offs, you wonder if they can take that step further this season and winning games like this could answer that.
Then on Sunday, August 7th you have a couple more matches with QPR v Leeds and a hugely entertaining affair of Sheffield Wednesday v Aston Villa. Will the Villains be able to get off to a winning start in the Championship? They are 9/4 to win at Hillsborough, but Sheffield Wednesday were brilliant on home turf in last season’s campaign and they may be the best value to back at a quote of 13/9 to take the three points.
Championship Fixtures Opening weekend
Fulham v Newcastle United
Birmingham City v Cardiff City
Blackburn Rovers v Norwich City
Bristol City v Wigan Athletic
Derby County v Brighton and Hove Albion
Huddersfield Town v Brentford
Ipswich Town v Barnsley
Nottingham Forest v Burton Albion
Reading v Preston North End
Rotherham United v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Queens Park Rangers v Leeds United
Sheffield Wednesday v Aston Villa
Rounding out at the other end of the season, you have Aston Villa v Brighton on the final day, which could be a cracker if they are both in the promotion hunt. Other feature games there would be Norwich v QPR and a tasty clash between Nottingham Forest and Ipswich.
Final day fixtures:
Aston Villa v Brighton
Brentford v Blackburn Rovers
Bristol City v Birmingham City
Burton Albion v Reading
Huddersfield Town v Cardiff City
Newcastle United v Barnsley
Norwich City v Queens Park Rangers
Nottingham Forest v Ipswich Town
Rotherham United v Derby County
Sheffield Wednesday v Fulham
Wigan Athletic v Leeds United
Wolverhampton v Preston North End
Championship 2016/17 Relegation
As usual with the start of a new reason you are looking at the newly promoted clubs in a division to be the favourites to take the drop. In the Championships this season you have Burton as the 10/11 odds on favourites to go straight back down to League One. Sat at the 2/1 mark is Rotherham and Barnsley while Blackburn may not be too far out of the woods this term sat at 4/1 along with Preston North End.
Championship History and Stats
The Champions was first born in the 2004/05 season and it kicked off with a real bang, raking in the attendances in its inaugural season. The division has always had 24 teams competing and it’s Sunderland who have been the most successful side in the short history of the Championship having won the title on two occasions. That of course meant that there was a relegation there as well.
There have only been three winners of the Championship who have taken the title with over 100 points, that was Reading in 2006, Newcastle in 2010 and Leicester in 2014. Hull have been promoted from the Championship three times before, twice through the play offs and once through an automatic promotion spot back in the 2012/13 season.
Last season in the Championship the 1-1 scoreline was the most frequent result, happening in 15% of all games played, which totals 85. The second most popular result was a 1-0 home win which happened 58 times and then happening 57 times each was a 2-1 home win and a 0-0 draw. The most popular away win scoreline was 2-1 which happened 45 times (8%).
Championship 2016/17 Predictions
The Championship can be a volatile old place and therefore the 2/1 shot on Newcastle winning the league isn’t all that appealing to kick things off with. Brighton don’t have the appeal either after their near misses in the play offs in recent times and Aston Villa will have to do a lot of work to prove that they are going to do anything. Norwich have big appeal therefore at a 10/1 each way punt to go out and win the Championships and you can dial that back a bit with a 5/2 quote on them to earn promotion. Derby are generally pretty steady performers are a worth a punt at 3/1 in the Championship Promotion market too.