EFL Championship Season Betting Preview

The EFL Championship is arguably the toughest domestic competition across the entirety of English football. Beginning on 2nd August the season stretches all the way to the Play-Off Final at Wembley Stadium on 25th May.

The EFL Championship

Make no mistake, competing week to week in the Championship is tough. If you want to excel in the league, you’re going to need to overcome a number of obstacles.

Firstly, the season is a slog. Comprising 46 league fixtures, plus additional matches for teams that make the Play-Offs, long-term fitness is key to a successful season. As is grit. The league has a real mixture of teams and playing styles, but almost every game is a battle. Especially with the sides that are newly promoted from League One.

For promotion hopefuls, big match mentality is a must. Last season, Derby finished in 6th place, nine points behind third-placed Leeds. But it was Derby who triumphed in the Play-Off semi-finals. Play-Off winners Aston Villa finished 18 points behind title winners Norwich, but it mattered not during the Play-Offs as they sealed promotion in “Football’s richest game” at Wembley.

Finally, if you want to win the title, you need quality. Because if you do make it to the promised land of the Premier League, you need to have a core of players within your squad with the ability to step up a level and keep you there.  

The contenders for the top?

LEEDS As the highest placed team from last season that remained in the league, Leeds are understandably favourites to top the table. Marcelo Bielsa’s revolution of the former giant continues unabated, with Leeds hoping to return to where they belong – the top flight of English football. Leeds were unlucky to miss out last season in the Play-Offs – they were the best team in the league on the stattos favourtie stat, XG – and will hope to secure an automatic spot this time around.

FULHAM – The Cottagers have made an immediate return to the Championship following their ‘one and done’ stint in the Premier League. Scott Parker took over managerial duties towards the end of the season and helped squeeze a couple of wins out of the side that would finish the campaign with the worst defensive record in the league. While Jean Michaël Seri and Ryan Babel have both left the club and joined Turkish side Galatasaray the club have retained start striker Aleksandar Mitrović who scored 12 goals in 17 appearances the last time the club competed at this level.

Destined for the drop?

CHARLTON – As is the way of things with promotion/relegation, the promoted sides are almost always favoured to drop back down again. In this case, Charlton are no different. Having secured their passage to the Championship via a dramatic last-minute win in the League One Play-Off final against Sunderland, The Addicks also – eventually – signed manager Lee Bowyer to a new contract. Last season’s top scorer Lyle Taylor has also re-signed, but Play-Off hero Patrick Bauer has moved to Preston.

READING – Of the non-promoted sides, The Royals look the most likely to get sucked into a relegation battle. They finished one spot above relegation, in 20th place, for the second campaign in a row and continued the trend of finishing 17th or lower in four of the past five seasons. Last season they managed back-to-back league wins just once – with those victories coming against bottom side Ipswich and Wigan who were dreadful on the road. Manager Jose Gomes has parted ways from six clubs before reaching the 17 games in charge mark. Reading have also done little business outside of signing Charlie Adam. So, all in all, it’s not looking positive.

EFL CHAMPIONSHIP BETTING ODDS

Leeds are favourites to win the title at 9/2 (5.50). Whilst the other main contenders to win the league are Fulham at 7/1 (8.00), Cardiff at 10/1 (11.00) and Stoke at 12/1 (13.00). Charlton are relegation favourites at 11/4 (3.25), closely followed by Barnsley at 5/2 (3.50), Reading at 9/4 (3.75) and QPR at 3/1 (4.00). For a top-six finish, and therefore automatic promotion or a Play-Off spot, you can back West Brom at 11/10 (2.10), Brentford at 3/2 (2.50) and last season’s losing finalists Derby at 9/4 (3.25). Aleksandar Mitrović is favourite to finish top scorer at 6/1 (7.00).  

*Odds subject to change. Odds correct at time of publishing.

Charlton Athletic vs Sunderland AFC: League One Play-off Final Betting Preview

On Sunday, Charlton and Sunderland will face-off at Wembley stadium for promotion to the Championship, in the League One play-off final.

Rewind 13 years to 2006 and this fixture would be taking place in the Premier League. Unfortunately for both clubs, a lot has changed in the intervening years. Sunderland were relegated at the end of 2005/06 and Charlton would follow a year later. Whilst Sunderland would return immediately to the Premier League, and stay there for the next decade, Charlton have not been seen since, going through various promotions and relegations between the Championship and League One.

Charlton Athletic

Following a run that saw just a single loss in their last 15 league games, Charlton secured a third-place finish, entering them into the play-offs for the first time since 1998, when they also met Sunderland in the final.

On paper, Charlton had the easier semi-final fixture, meeting sixth-placed Doncaster Rovers, who finished 15 points behind them and 12 points adrift of fifth-placed Sunderland. They didn’t make easy work of it though, winning the first leg at Keepmoat Stadium 2-1, but losing 3-2 at The Valley. Extra-time and penalties were needed to send them through to the final.

Sunderland AFC

Despite suffering the fewest losses in the league, Sunderland would miss out on an automatic promotion spot due to their league-high 19 draws. Their hopes for automatic promotion were further harmed by an awful run of form in their last nine fixtures, comprising only two wins, four draws and three losses.

It’s not all doom and gloom though for the Black Cats, with the team showing plenty of mental resilience in the play-off semi-finals. They held onto a 1-0 lead in the first leg despite going down to ten men only five minutes after scoring, and at Fratton Park, in the second leg, Jack Ross’ men were able to grind out a 0-0 draw and seal progression into the final.

CHARLTON VS SUNDERLAND: PLAY-OFF FINAL BETTING ODDS

This is the closest matchup of all the play-off finals, with not a lot to choose between the two sides. Sunderland are marginal favourites at 13/9 (2.45) to seal promotion, with Charlton slight outsiders at odds of 13/7 (2.85).

Charlton vs Sunderland: League One Play-off Final Betting Tips

It might seem a little surprising that Charlton, the form team in League One over the last 15 fixtures, aren’t entering this game as favourites. Especially given Sunderland’s poor finish to the season. As ever, context is key. Sunderland’s poor run was against top-half opposition in all but one of their last nine games. And while they haven’t been winning, they’ve not been getting beaten.

Sunderland have edged it over the two fixtures between the sides this season, winning at home and drawing away, and have an experienced squad who shouldn’t wilt under the pressure of the occasion. However, they’ve been leaky of late, with both teams scoring in seven of their last ten fixtures, so we’d opt for Sunderland to win and both teams to score at 39/10 (4.9).

*Odds subject to change. Odds correct at time of going to print.



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