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 Photo  by  Badgernet   CC BY 4.0

 
Caption: Who will Emulate Wolves’ Heroics from last Season?

The second tier of English football is without doubt one of the most competitive leagues in the world. Its sheer relentlessness - two games a week - is brutal for the best of squads. Its unpredictability – never before has the phrase any team can beat any other team been so true.  The fact once you are in it, it is one of the hardest leagues in the world to get out of, at least via the exit going up not down. It's little wonder it is the third highest attended league in Europe. Does this unpredictability mean it should be avoided at all costs when it comes to betting then? Not at all. There is real value to be found in the Championship. Here we look at some of the teams set fair to break into the EPL, as well as some outside bets.

 

Fast out the Blocks

The top four teams in the league have been the stand out sides so far. Of those, Leeds and Sheffield United have been the surprise packages. No one expected Marcelo Bielsa to get such a fantastic tune from is Leeds United side. The same side that has had 14 managers in the last 6 years. West Brom and their rookie manager Darren Moore are more than repaying the faith the board put in them, and look like they will make a quick return. Tony Pulis – at the other end of the managerial spectrum, has not quite found his stride at Middlesbrough, but they have drawn at Elland Road and beaten West Brom. Logic, if you can apply that to the Championship, and the depth and quality of both of those squads mean they are the ones that are likely to maintain the pace while the two aforementioned teams have to settle for the play offs.

 

Coming Up on the Rails

Forest and Wednesday are perhaps punching slightly above their weight, and while unlikely to make an impact any higher, will constantly be aware of the threat coming from below. Of those, it will be interesting to see if the loss of Dean Smith to Villa will derail Brentford’s bright start. Thomas Frank, Smith’s assistant for the last two years has stepped into the hotseat. Frank does come with pedigree – he worked with the Danish U16, U17 and U19 sides, and was Manager at Brondby. He knows the players, the team are playing well, particularly at home, and are a good bet for the playoffs.

 

 

 Photo  by  @cfcunofficial (Chelsea Debs) London CC BY 2.0

Caption: Lampard cutting his managerial teeth at Derby

Derby, or Frank Lampard’s Derby as you almost feel obliged to call them, are another team who are looking to stretch their legs and make an impact on the top six. In his first managerial job, the ex Chelsea star has made an impressive start. Crucially he has used the loan system very well, and boasts two of the EPL’s hottest rising stars in Harry Wilson and Mason Mount. He also has bags of Championship nouse and experience with the likes of Waghorn and Nugent. In recent years, Derby have mirrored Lampard’s time at international level – promising so much before just failing to deliver when push came to shove.

 

 

Outside Bets

Another of the relegated teams Stoke had a torrid start to their life in the Championship, but they seem to have steadied the ship. If they can get a run together, they do have the players who can make a difference, and it would not be a surprise to see them in the top six come May. Villa’s life outside the Premiership has been far from rosy. They have poached Smith from Brentford, but whether he will be able to apply his winning formula to what has looked a disjointed Villa side is questionable, certainly in time to make an impact on the right half of the table this season.

 

One bet that looks a real long shot, but comes with mouth-watering odds, is Ipswich Town. Paul Hurst has a track record of turning relegation favourites into promotion contenders. He has brought in a whole new team and it has been far from plain sailing so far. However, things look to have turned around of late, and they have key players who will soon be returning from injury. The Championship has a history of teams making a late break into the play-offs. If Ipswich can manage that this season, it would not be unprecedented, but it will certainly be spectacular.

 

Whatever happens, it will be a long, intense and enjoyable rollercoaster ride over the next 7 months, culminating in that epic showdown at Wembley in the play off final. Don’t forget you can keep up with all the Championship scores, as well as every other game from around the globe, right here on All For Scores. If the Championship is new to you, take our word for it, in terms of excitement, drama – and quality teams and players, it really is hard to beat.

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