Latest odds ahead of the new season...
Cardiff head into the new Sky Bet Championship season as 7/1 favourites to bounce back into the Premier League at the first attempt as champions but the odds suggest Derby (8/1), Fulham (9/1), Wigan (9/1) and Norwich (10/1) are the teams most likely to run them close to the title.
Despite propping up the Barclays Premier League table last season, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men are a shorter price than their fellow relegated outfits to earn promotion at 9/4 while Fulham and Norwich can be backed at 3/1 and 100/30 respectively.
Derby, who agonisingly missed out in the Sky Bet Championship play-off final to QPR in May, are 11/4 to go up this time while Wigan, 3/1 in the promotion betting, are fancied to go close after finishing in the top six last time out following a great late-season run of form under Uwe Rosler.
An interesting statistic worth bearing in mind when picking a team to back in the title betting is that the last three winners of the division – Leicester, Cardiff and Reading – have all done so after losing in the play-offs the season before.
Therefore, backing Derby, Wigan or Brighton, a temptingly big price at 20/1, to be crowned champions next May are bets worth obvious consideration.
Reading, Blackburn and Ipswich were the sides unfortunate to miss out on a shot at the play-offs last season so unsurprisingly they are among the shortest priced teams to earn a top-six finish at 9/4, 12/5 and 11/4 respectively.
That said, two sides to finish below this trio last season – Middlesbrough and Watford – are more fancied in this market at 2/1 while they are both live outsiders at 14/1 in the title betting with reasons for thinking both could improve upon their 2013/14 finishing spots.
Nottingham Forest will also be one of the many sides targeting the play-offs at least – they are 5/2 for the top-six - under new boss Stuart Pearce and they too might be worth a shout at 6/1 in the promotion betting.
Bournemouth enjoyed a superb season in the Championship following their promotion from Sky Bet League 1 and although it will be a hard act for them to improve on their 10th-placed finish which saw them lie just eight points off the play-offs in the final standings, the odds suggest Eddie Howe’s men are far from being outsiders, their price to finish in the top six being just 5/2.
During their two years in the Championship following relegation from the Premier League, Bolton haven’t really mounted serious promotion pushes and even flirted with relegation during the first half of last season under Dougie Freedman.
Pessimistic Trotters might be tempted to look at a bottom-three price of 12/1, but given how open the division is, there will surely be many more hopeful fans eyeing up the 13/2 about them returning to the top-flight.
It will be interesting to see how Charlton fare under relatively unknown boss Bob Peeters – they are regarded as unlikely promotion contenders at 16/1 and just 3/1 for relegation.
Birmingham, Millwall and Blackpool all stayed up on the final day and the latter are favourites for relegation this season at 8/13 largely due to their well-publicised struggles in the summer, a period which has seen a number of departures from the club.
Should you believe the negativity to have been misplaced though, you will be well rewarded. Sky Bet’s odds on the Tangerines achieving a top-six finish are 25/1.
The three remaining Championship incumbents all hail from Yorkshire – Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield – and they’ve all been similarly priced up in the promotion and relegation markets.
Leeds are the shortest of the trio at 10/1 to go up, with the Owls and Terriers 11/1 and 16/1 respectively. Wednesday are 6/1 in the top six betting while Leeds are 7/1 and Huddersfield 10/1. Those expecting a gloomy season can back Leeds at 7/2 for relegation, with Huddersfield 100/30 and Wednesday 4/1.
The three promoted teams from League 1 see Wolves priced at at 11/4 for a place in the top six, with Brentford available at 9/2 and the Millers at a very tempting 9/1.
It promises to be another interesting battle in the top goalscorer market.
Blackburn striker Jordan Rhodes is the 7/1 favourite to finish top of the shots and his biggest competition is expected to come from new Fulham signing Ross McCormack, who finished last season as the Sky Bet Championship’s top scorer with 28 goals for Leeds.
Other contenders are returning Watford loanee Matej Vydra, his Hornets team-mate Troy Deeney and Derby forward Chris Martin.
All three players can be backed at 12/1.
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