WhichBookie racing analyst Will Smith provides a preview and an ante-post each-way selection for the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday 25th September.
|Fulham||11/2||Outright Winner||Place Bet|
|Bournemouth||10/1||Outright Winner||Place Bet|
|West Brom||11/4||To Be Promoted||Place Bet|
|Blackpool||7/2||To Be Relegated||Place Bet|
|Derby||5/6||To Be Relegated||Place Bet|
|Aleksandar Mitrovic||8/1||Top Goalscorer||Place Bet|
|Bobby Reid||50/1||Top Goalscorer
|Lucas Joao||20/1||Top Goalscorer||Place Bet|
Date of Tips: 05/08/2021
Disclaimer The odds for these selections were correct at the time of publishing (10:11 05/08/2021) but may have changed since. Please check the latest price before placing your bet.
The 2021/22 season of the EFL Championship gets underway tomorrow evening with a cracker of a game. Bournemouth will host West Brom at the Vitality Stadium and both sides will be looking to take away all three points from the match to give their promotion challenges the perfect start. I may be looking more into that fixture tomorrow but for today, I’m going to share my thoughts on some season-long bets for the winner, relegation and top scorer markets.
The trio of Fulham, West Brom and Sheffield United were relegated from the Premier League last season and I think all three have a realistic chance of going back up. It’s never an easy task but several teams have done it and in my opinion, you stand a much better chance if you displayed defensive capabilities in the Premier League and are able to retain that ability and the players to do so for your Championship campaign. We saw that with Newcastle who were relegated in both 2009 and 2016 and both times they bounced straight back up by winning the Championship. Although Newcastle have rarely flourished in the Premier League in the past decade, their experience at the back was vital in their Championship promotion battle and they conceded an average of just 0.76 goals and 0.98 goals per game in those seasons.
Looking at the teams that were relegated from the Premier League last season and Fulham were clearly the more solid of the three at the back. They conceded fewer goals (1.39) on average per game than West Brom (2.0) and Sheff Utd (1.65) and lost the least number of games. Ultimately, they were relegated due to drawing too many matches in the top flight. They picked up points against the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal, Spurs, West Ham and Liverpool, who they also managed to beat away at Anfield back in March. If they can continue to be solid at the back throughout the new season, they have a great chance of heading back up into the Premier League as they should find themselves with more chances in front of goal at this lower level.
One concern with Fulham is that they have lost their manager Scott Parker to Championship rivals Bournemouth and he has been replaced with former Hull City, Watford and Everton manager, Marco Silva. Silva isn’t known for his defensive capabilities and so there is a slight doubt that area of Fulham’s ability could decline this season. However, I’m confident that they will perform in the Championship and I also expect Aleksandar Mitrovic to flourish again as he seems more suited to the Championship rather than the top-flight.
You back Fulham to win the 2021/22 Championship at best odds of 11/2 with Bet365, 888Sport and Unibet.
From the other relegated sides, I believe West Brom have the best chance of achieving promotion this season. Sheffield United were extremely poor in their Premier League campaign and odds of 11/4 for them to head straight back up don’t appeal to me with the Championship being an extremely competitive league. West Brom weren’t much better on paper, winning just 5 matches all season, but they did see out far more games to pick up a single point and I think they’ll do just fine in a league below. Sam Allardyce was unable to keep the Baggies up and now Valérien Ismaël takes the reigns in the coming season who should be the man for the job. The ex-Bayern Munich defender lead Barnsley to a fifth-place finish last season and his experience in the Championship should help West Brom in their promotion campaign. They’re the same odds as Sheff Utd to be promoted at 11/4 and I’d much rather back them to bounce back up.
Another team I fancy to make their way back into the top-flight is Bournemouth who were relegated in the 2019/20 season and finished 6th in the Championship back in May. Only Norwich and Brentford scored more goals than them and they were relatively solid at the back also. A big bonus for Bournemouth is the appointment of Scott Parker from Fulham. Parker should be able to tighten things up at the back even more and if they do so and continue to fire in front of goal, they’ll have a strong chance of getting back into the Premier League and even could challenge Fulham for the title. They’re 10/3 to be promoted and an appealing 10/1 with Unibet to finish top with both bets appealing to me.
|EFL Championship Winner|
|West Brom||To Be Promoted||11/4||Visit|
Hull, Peterborough and Blackpool are the newcomers to the Championship and out of the three, I’d expect Blackpool to struggle the most. It’s a huge step up for them and the squad lacks experience at this level which may very well show early on. They’re 4th favourites to go down at a best price of 7/2 with Mansionbet, 10Bet and SportNation which I think is relatively fair.
Another team that I think could have a dreadful season is Derby and it looks like the bookies agree as they are a very short 5/6 with Bet365 to drop into League One. Their squad is incredibly thin and has been made worse by Wayne Rooney injuring one of his own players in training. Rooney has been in the headlines unfavourably recently which will not help settle the nerves at the club and he hasn’t proven himself at management level yet. I’m not sure he’s the man for the job at Derby this season and I’m relatively confident that he won’t be at the club come the end of the season. Despite the short odds on Derby, I do expect them to be in a relegation battle for the majority of the season.
|EFL Championship Relegation|
|Blackpool||To Be Relegated||7/2||Visit|
|Derby||To Be Relegated||5/6||Visit|
Aleksandar Mitrovic is the bookies joint-favourite to bag the most goals in the Championship this season and providing that he is a regular starter under new manager Marco Silva, he has a great chance of doing so. Mitrovic is one of those players who is a lot more suited to the Championship than the Premier League and will find the ball at his feet much more often in the coming season compared to the last. He is a proven goalscorer at this level having bagged 12 goals in 17 appearances for Fulham in the 2017/18 season and 26 goals in 40 appearances in 2019/20. Providing he starts and stays fit, Mitrovic should be up there as a contender for top scorer and odds of 8/1 with Bet365 are fair in my opinion.
An outsider bet would be on another Fulham player, Bobby Decordova-Reid, who is a big price of 50/1 with Betfred. He got 33 appearances for the Cottagers in the Premier League last season and found the net 5 times. That’s not a stat that may encourage you to back him but Mitrovic only managed 3 goals in 27 appearances and is a much shorter price. Again, it will depend on whether Marco Silva decides to field Mitrovic, Reid or both, but Fulham should produce chances in most games this season and if Reid is on the end of them, he stands a chance of achieving a tally as good as anyone. A safer bet may be to back him each way which would pay out if he finished in the top four of the top scorer table and odds of just shy of 12/1 are available on that bet.
Lastly, Reading forward Lucas Joao is priced at 20/1 with Betfred to finish the season with the most Championship goals. He bagged 19 last season for the Royals and there’s nothing stopping him adding to that tally in the coming season, especially if he stays fit and Reading finish in the top 6.
|EFL Championship Top Scorer|
|Aleksandar Mitrovic||Top Scorer||8/1||Visit|
|Bobby Reid||Top Scorer (E/W)||50/1||Visit|
|Lucas Joao||Top Scorer||20/1||Visit|