Our football writer previews the first round of the English Football League Championship which gets underway on Friday the 3rd of August 2018.
In the blink of an eye, the football season is back! The 2018 Russia World Cup was thoroughly enjoyed but there is just something about club soccer and its rivalries that bring that crazy passion and love for the beautiful game out of all of us.
The English Championship is by far one of the hardest and longest competitions in the world! There’s a total of 24 teams battling it out over 46 games – excluding the play-offs – for a place in England’s top flight. Round one, fight!
Friday 3 August
We begin the new and exciting campaign at the Madejski Stadium – home of Reading FC. The hosts struggled last season and as a result, finished 20th on the standings. The Royals managed just five wins from 23 home matches but should come out firing with a point to prove on Friday night.
Derby – despite their impressive effort – fell short of qualifying for the English Premier League last season, going down 2-1 on aggregate to Fulham in the play-off semi-finals. The last five meetings between these sides have produced 21 goals at 4.2 per game. The Over 2.5 Goals market looks ripe for the picking at 11/10!
Saturday 4 August
Preston missed out on the Championship play-offs last season by just two points but can take a lot from it with a vast improvement throughout the squad and I can see them having another strong run-in for the title.
QPR travelled dismally last term with only three wins from 23 matches and that doesn’t look likely to improve here. The Lilywhites have won the last four meetings against the R’s and are tipped to claim another narrow victory.
Sheffield Wednesday 5/2
Wigan will be hoping to build on last season’s success after winning the English League One. The Latics scored 89 goals in the process and will look to hit the ground running on Saturday afternoon, when they come up against Sheffield Wednesday.
The Owls lacked consistency last season but more than a couple of times they looked like a team capable of challenging for top honours. With that being said, I’m taking Both Teams to Score – Yes – at 9/10.
Brentford, who finished ninth on the table last season, are strong on home soil and will be eager to get the new campaign off to a winning start.
Rotherham were promoted via League One play-offs after finishing fourth on the log. Brentford have won the last the last three meetings between the sides and are tipped to add to that. Get on the home team to win on the (-1) Handicap at 12/10!
Ipswich finished mid-table following a mediocre season but hopefully the upcoming campaign will see them spring to life. Blackburn look like a side on the rise after finishing second in League One. When they won, they won convincingly with style.
The Riversiders were excellent on their travels last term and I expect them to trouble many teams on the road. Take Blackburn to edge the win.
Millwall had a decent 2017/18 season finishing eighth on the standings, just three points off the play-offs. The Lions were strong at home last term but their opponents can match them player-for-player which makes this contest tough to call.
Middlesbrough placed fifth on the table but lost out 1-0 to Aston Villa in the play-off semi-finals. This one should go down to the wire and the draw looks a likely result.
West Brom 9/20
Despite West Brom being relegated from the English Premier League, they will always be a tough team to break down and against weaker teams, they offer good value to make a quick return to the top flight.
Bolton ended the 2017/18 season 21st on the log with just two points separating them from the relegation zone. They only managed one win from 23 travels and I highly doubt they will be able to get a point, let alone three at the Hawthorns. The home win is the way to go.
Although Birmingham finished in the bottom half of the log – 19th – they did fairly well on their ground. Norwich, on the other hand, were one of those teams that were near unpredictable.
However, they did manage to pull the double over the Blues, winning 1-0 at home before ousting them 2-0 in front of their own supporters. Both meetings proved to be dull and I’m expecting a similar showing here. The Under 2.5 Goals market is tipped at 61/100.
Bristol City 31/20
Bristol City started last season like a house on fire but that fire slowly died out. They scored plenty of goals but their poor defending proved costly. Nottingham travelled poorly last season with 13 losses from 23 matches.
Bristol City have won the last four meetings at home against Forrest, scoring eight goals and conceding just twice. Back the home team to come out on top.
Sheffield Utd 5/4
When two sides that play attacking football clash, you are always hoping to be treated to a goal fest. Sheffield had their moments last season where they looked like they would eventually grind out a play-off place but, in the end, settled for 10th position.
Swansea were dreadful on their travels in the Premier League with only two wins and 11 goals scored in 19 games. Nonetheless, this is a new season and they definitely are one of the teams to watch. Both Teams to Score – Yes – is tipped at 17/20.
Sunday 5 August
Stoke City 33/10
Leeds will take on the league-favourites Stoke City in Sunday’s only fixture. The betting suggests a close contest and I believe it as well. The last time these sides clashed was in the 2006/07 season with Stoke City thrashing Leeds home and away – 3-1 and 4-0 respectfully.
I highly doubt we will see as many goals and it’s likely to be a much cagier affair. The Both Teams to Score – No – market should be backed at 19/20.
Monday 6 August
Hull City 33/10
Aston Villa 18/10
Hull City had a nightmare of a season as they struggled to build any momentum but it’s a fresh start come Monday and they will be looking to end the first round’s action off on a positive start.
Aston Villa looked set for a place in the Premier League but Fulham stopped them in their tracks and left them heartbroken after winning the play-off final 1-0. The Villains need to put that behind them and focus on mounting another stellar title challenge, starting with Monday’s blockbuster. Take Aston Villa to start the season with a win.
TREBLE TIPPED @ 15/2
Reading vs Derby Over 2.5 Goals 11/10
Blackburn Win 18/10
West Brom Win 9/20