The Sky Bet Championship season gets underway on Friday night and having already covered the title race and the top goalscorer opportunities for the campaign, there is time to look at some of the other markets before the off.
There are all sorts of markets from finishing positions to promotion and relegation and a whole lot more besides. There are three markets in particular that I like selections in and I’ll begin with the top six.
Top 6 Finish
This is a market which over the last couple of seasons has had some big priced teams land. In each of those campaigns Luton Town have finished in the top six at a big price while Huddersfield, Coventry City and Sunderland have filled those spots in that time while prior to that Barnsley were also in there so it isn’t just the fancied runners which take up all of these spots and I suspect we will see one of the lesser fancied teams gatecrashing it again.
The team I like is Ipswich Town, a team who have been going great guns under Kieran McKenna and who have spent a few quid to ensure that their squad can be expected to kick on again. I do happen to think that this is going to be a stronger Championship at the very top end with the three relegated sides having cash to spend to make a good go at an immediate Premier League return but I don’t really see an improving side among those who were in the division last season who finished in the top 10. Ipswich play great football and are very much a progressive side under a modern coach and all the comparable metrics have them rated much better than Sunderland who finished in the top six last season after coming out of League 1. That makes me think the 11/4 on the Tractor Boys to finish in the top six is well worth taking.
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Top Half Finish
Stretching the field a little further apart and there is one team who is odds against to finish in the top half who really shouldn’t be in my eyes. Bristol City finished four points off the top half last season and two places away from it. I’m certain there are two or three teams who finished in the top 10 last season who won’t be anywhere near it again this year so there will be spots available for the Robins to naturally move themselves up the table.
I thought watching Bristol City last season that they had the makings of a good young squad and they made a couple of good signings in January and have brought a couple more talented players in during the summer and with the experience of last year behind them and some touches of class I do expect a good improvement at Ashton Gate. 6/5 might not be a price for some as a single but if you are forming accumulators and want the bump up bet they can certainly be it.
I’m reluctant to get involved in the relegation market given that I was counting my chips in this market with Huddersfield Town last season before Neil Warnock came along and saved them but two prices just stand out a mile to me and I can’t ignore them. The first of those is Sheffield Wednesday who I saw with my own eyes in their final pre-season friendly last weekend. I’m not really one for taking too much notice of friendlies but I do take more notice of last ones and the Owls offered absolutely nothing in a really disappointing display against Luton. They tick all the boxes for relegation for me. The owner feels like he is moving things into basket case mode, I hate foreign managers in this division because the matches come way too fast for their style and this is a team who three matches ago were humped 4-0 in one of the biggest games in their recent history. There’s way too much going on at Sheffield Wednesday for my liking and I think they could well get it all wrong and depart the division a lot quicker than they came back to it.
The other team I like for the drop are Blackburn Rovers. The feel like the Huddersfield Town of this season. They missed out on the play-offs last season on goal difference but their underlying numbers were nowhere near the top six levels and those sorts of things generally revert to the mean over a period of time. There is no Ben Brereton-Diaz this season and now we know that Thomas Kaminski has gone as well and the status of Jon Dahl Tomasson continues to be a talking point. Blackburn have never really had any money so there isn’t going to be an influx of big money signings between now and the end of August and if they start as badly as they finished last term they could quickly get into a rut they struggle to find the way out of. Blackburn look overpriced for the drop.
Back Ipswich Town Top 6 Finish for a 2/10 stake at 3.75 with Unibet
Back Bristol City Top Half Finish for a 4/10 stake at 2.20 with Sky Bet
Back Sheffield Wednesday to be relegated for a 2/10 stake at 4.50 with Bet365
Back Blackburn Rovers to be relegated for a 1/10 stake at 8.50 with Sky Bet