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The English Premier League is where the big money lies, but for many football fans it’s the Championship that is the most exciting league in the world. That’s because it’s incredibly competitive, and even when the top of the league plays the bottom, you can’t be sure who will emerge victorious. Thrills and spills are guaranteed week after week, but with so many contenders competing for two automatics and one play off ticket for the Premier League, just who will win the Championship in the 2019/20 season? The season is now well under way and trends are emerging, so let’s take a look at six of the contenders to be crowned champions of the Championship.
Let’s start by examining the prospects of the three relegated teams from last season’s Premier League; will they bounce straight back up? Fulham are tipped by many to do that, but in this ultra-competitive league they have endured mixed results so far under the rookie management of Scott Parker. If you still believe that they will finish top, as many do, that means that you can get better odds than you might expect, and you can use a Free Bet on offer via FreeBet Up to have a Fulham flutter without having to risk a penny.
Neil Warnock is the complete opposite of Scott Parker when it comes to managerial experience, and in a managerial career spanning 39 years and counting, he has gained a record seven promotions, including when he led Cardiff to the Premier League two seasons ago. None of that necessarily means that Warnock will finish above Parker’s Fulham next May, however, and it may be that his method of direct football no longer works against teams who favour a more progressive, passing approach to the game. Cardiff City may also be distracted by their ongoing legal battle over the fee payable for Emiliano Sala, the Argentine forward who tragically died in a plane crash just days after signing for the welsh side from French team Nantes.
Huddersfield Town endured a torrid, some would say embarrassing, time in finishing bottom of last season’s Premier League, yet they were still among the favourites to gain promotion this year. They found that the gap in class between the divisions was less than expected, and they continued their losing run into this season, quickly losing manager Jan Siewert his job. It looked as if the Terriers might ‘do a Sunderland’ and suffer two relegations in a row, but Town’s hierarchy have acted swiftly and recruited wisely. New manager Danny Cowley has already improved results, and it’s not too late for Huddersfield to climb the table and push for promotion.
Leeds United looked to be running away with the Championship last season, but as has happened so often before, they fell away and lost in dramatic fashion to Frank Lampard’s Derby County in last season’s playoff semi-final. They could have suffered a hangover from that, but with talismanic manager Marcelo Bielsa remaining at the helm, they started the season strongly once again, and installed themselves as favourites to win the Championship crown. Recent weeks have seen worrying signs of last season’s frailties returning, encapsulated by a loss to Millwall. They have lost key players in Kemar Roofe and Pontus Jansson, and could that cost them promotion once again?
West Bromwich Albion
West Bromwich Albion were the other defeated play off semi-finalists, losing to eventual winners and Midlands rivals Aston Villa. It’s galling for fans of the Baggies to see Villa now playing in the Premier League, but could this be the year that they seal their own return to the big time? On paper, West Bromwich Albion have a fantastic squad, and their strike force of Charlie Austin, Kyle Edwards and Kenneth Zohore looks to have goals in it. Austin has disappointed so far and his tally of a single Championship goal is well below what was expected of him. Nevertheless, his team are looking ominous at the summit of the table, and who would bet against them being in the same position at the end of the season?
The Championship promotion race always throws up an unexpected challenger. Last year it was Sheffield United, could it be Nottingham Forest this year? With just one loss in 11 games they sit second in the Championship table on 22 points, and whilst their odds for promotion are falling, they are still generous compared to some of the teams around them. Forest have not been in the top flight since the last year of the twentieth century, but could this sleeping giant, twice champions of Europe, now be waking up?
Three of these six teams could be celebrating in style at the end of the season, but there are plenty of other contenders too, including a resurgent Swansea City and Preston North End whose start has surprised just about everyone. It’s this uncertainty that makes the Championship such an exciting league to watch and to bet on.