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Welcome back to the madhouse. Last season brought us a terrifically successful Belgian overhaul of East Lancashire, a Made In Yorkshire revival, and an underdog story delivered with strength and skill. As Burnley, Sheffield United, and Luton Town now prepare for their Premier League seasons, the question now becomes, what is in store for the EFL Championship 2023/24?
The EFL Championship outrights odds suggest that we should be expecting a very short stay for at least one or two, or maybe even three, of our newcomers. 2022/23 Premier League clubs Leicester City, Southampton, and Leeds United lead the way in terms of EFL Championship promotion odds.
There is time enough to dig into the individual cases, but recent history suggests that there should indeed be confidence in those relegated sides. There have been five instant promotions from the last twelve relegated clubs, at least one a year since 2019/20. Only four of the twelve finished outside of the top six in that time as well.
Two of those four are last year’s underperformers, Watford and Norwich City. Both clubs have taken a big turn in direction over the summer, and both sit in the wake of the relegated teams in the EFL Championship promotion odds alongside Michael Carrick’s Middlesbrough.
The EFL Championship relegation odds are headed by clubs who are relatively small fish in the Championship pond, Rotherham and Plymouth. The Millers finally managed to stop the dizzying roundabout of constant promotions and relegations by hanging around in the Championship for another season. The Pilgrims amassed a huge 101 points in League One last term, but the layers don’t believe that means a comfortable time in the higher division for the Devonian outfit. Other contenders for a fall through the trapdoor, according to the bookies, are Gareth Ainsworth’s QPR, Cardiff City, and the Yorkshire pair of Huddersfield and Sheffield Wednesday.
Meanwhile, no player has won back-to-back EFL Championship Golden Boots since Sylvan Ebanks-Blake in 2008/9. Chuba Akpom will have the opportunity to aim for this in 2023/24, the previous five winners all were promoted or moved into the Premier League, but Akpom looks as though he will continue as Middlesbrough’s main goal threat this term.
Akpom, however, does not head up the Golden Boot odds. 36-year-old Jamie Vardy, and, actually, both of his Leicester teammates, Kelechi Iheanacho and Patson Daka, take up a lot of the book at the top end. With the other major player in the EFL Championship top scorer odds being highly speculated Swansea forward Joel Piroe, it is an intriguing market at this stage.
Indeed, everything about the EFL Championship outrights at this stage is intriguing. There are so many big clubs, traditional clubs with great fanbases, in the division this term. With the likes of Ipswich Town returning to the league, Blackburn Rovers hoping to go at least one position better than last term, Sunderland continuing to excite, and Coventry City having to bounce back from Wembley heartbreak, the storylines are endless.
The value is also out there. Luton was promoted at a big price last term, Sunderland and Coventry were a good Top 6 price, and Chuba Akpom came from nowhere to dominate the scoring charts. Who can upset the bookmakers in 2023/24?
With a plethora of EFL Championship outright odds markets available, take advantage of Paddy Power’s sign-up offer linked below, back any of the selections with £10, and get £50 in free football bet builders:
Championship promotion odds
The ultimate aim of all 24 Championship clubs this season is to achieve promotion to the Premier League. Of course, only two clubs can fill the automatic promotion slots, and the bad news for many is that recent seasons have demonstrated that ‘the most unpredictable league in the world’ has become a bit more of a closed shop at the very top.
The last three Championship winners have been clubs that were relegated from the Premier League in the previous season. Indeed, five of the last twelve relegated clubs have bounced straight back into the Premier League.
Parachute payments are a controversial topic that is still under analysis following the recent review of the game, but the impact of them cannot be denied and needs consideration when examining the EFL Championship promotion odds. Clubs receiving parachute payments have been promoted every year since 2016, it has been two parachute payment clubs a season since 2019.
There are five clubs that are in receipt of parachute payments in the Championship this year. The three relegated clubs (Southampton, Leeds, and Leicester) and Watford and Norwich are in their second year of parachute payments.
If one is to look for an automatic promotion outside of the parachute payment clubs then there are a couple of things to consider. The most recent clubs to achieve this were Leeds under Marcelo Bielsa, Norwich under Daniel Farke, Sheff Utd under Chris Wilder, Wolves under Nuno, and Brighton under Chris Hughton.
There are some aspects of these clubs that can be identified as helping factors to their success. Leeds had a proven, elite manager, and probably Wolves did as well. Sheffield United had shown signs of constant improvement under Wilder and Norwich had just received two seasons’ worth of parachute payments.
“The impact of these payments on the competitive balance of the Championship, and on the sustainability of all other clubs, is a major concern for the EFL,” – Rick Parry, English Football League chiefSource: BBC Sports
Wolves had the benefit of new, wealthy owners and a connection with a super agent, whilst Brighton had their smart recruitment model. Both Leeds and Brighton were also in the play-offs the season before having just missed out on automatic promotion the season before.
Indeed, the previous season’s play-off losers are often a rich seam of subsequent promotions.
Six promotions have come for clubs the year after a play-off failure, this is an even higher rate than relegated clubs. The trick, of course, is identifying which club is able to build on that success from the previous season and not suffer a hangover.
The clubs highlighted in yellow above are the play-off final losers, only Brentford managed to shrug that off and finish in the top six the following season. They were promoted on that occasion.
Maresca’s foxes here for a good time not a long time
Probably the most shocking relegation since Newcastle in 2015 will probably end up with the same result of an instant return to the Premier League. Similarly to that Newcastle predicament, Leicester City have appointed a new manager to guide them to promotion. Where Newcastle went for an experienced hand in Rafael Benitez, Leicester have chosen potential in former Manchester City assistant Enzo Maresca. Maresca had extensive experience of playing in this league with West Brom but is still mostly unproven as a number one.
However, this selection is mainly based on the sheer quality of the playing staff at Maresca’s disposal. Leicester have the most expensively assembled squad to compete in the Championship, however, they have worked to rectify one of their biggest issues by bringing in a new goalkeeper and two central defenders already.
The additions of Mads Hermansen, a Danish goalkeeper in his peak years, recent English international Conor Coady and potential future England international Callum Doyle show that they know what let them down last season and it should give them a solid base.
The rest of the squad, as long as most stay, looks exceptionally strong. James Justin, Ricardo Pereira, Wilfred Ndidi, Boubakary Soumare, and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall are just some of the names that will support a forward line of Jamie Vardy, Kelechi Iheanacho, and Patson Daka.
If Maresca can marshal the troops into a coherent way of playing, keeping the back door shut, especially at set pieces, then Leicester should be in the top two at the end of the season.
⬆️ Leicester City to finish in the Top 2
Ipswich to do the unimaginable
No team has won back-to-back promotions into the Premier League since Southampton in 2011, but Ipswich feel like they have a lot going for them heading into this season.
The main reason that there is confidence around them is the impact that Kieran McKenna has had as manager at Portman Road. The former Man Utd coach has transformed the style of play into a modern, possession-dominant style and they were a dominant force in League One last term.
Whilst they still didn’t actually manage to win that league, they did achieve 98 points and over 100 goals. If it wasn’t for some profligate finishing then they would’ve been more comfortable.
“We’re pushing them with the schedule and pushing them with having to back up the games. I’m confident we’ll be in a strong position when the season starts. – Kieran McKenna on preparing the players for the start of the new seasonSource: East Anglian Daily Times
No one is under any illusion that they will be able to be as dominant in this league, however, McKenna won’t compromise on his principles. They are such a well-oiled machine that, provided that a few more cogs are added, they have that clarity of purpose that will see them shock many of the more recently illustrious clubs in the league.
The key concern about Ipswich at the moment is the lack of a quality centre forward. If this can be addressed in the next few weeks then a promotion push could really be on. However, belief in the coaching staff and the majority of the playing staff, means that they could be one of the teams to gatecrash the parachute payment party.
⬆️ Ipswich Town to finish in the Top 2
Championship Top 6 odds
Whilst the very top of the league has been something of a closed shop of late, there is often at least one surprise in the playoffs. Last year, newly promoted Sunderland reached the top six on a dramatic final day. Coventry and Luton contested the playoff final despite both being decent prices to even make it into the top six.
Recent seasons have seen the likes of Huddersfield and Barnsley gatecrash the post-season as well. However, they are the exception. The majority of the line-up in the top six of the league tends to be the well-budgeted clubs that either just fall short of the automatic promotion race, or recover from a tricky start to finish strongly.
There tends to be a strong correlation between a strong defensive record and finishing in the top six. When looking for teams to make the playoffs it often pays to consider the manager and how well-organised the team will be, Mark Robins at Coventry is a good example of this.
Middlesbrough to be underestimated?
It is a bit of a surprise to see odds-against for Middlesbrough in this market. Michael Carrick’s form since he became Middlesbrough manager, 58 points from 30 matches, would see Boro challenging for the automatic promotion places.
It is true that form dipped towards the end of the season, however, there are understandable reasons why this might be the case. They had put in a lot of effort to chase down the playoffs, and then the automatic promotion spots, and they seemed to tire once the automatic slots were out of reach.
Boro has been active in the transfer market already, and they are doing interesting business. Their goalkeeping ranks have been completely revamped with the signing of Seny Dieng from QPR, it will be good for Middlesbrough to have a new, permanent goalkeeper to build from. They have also brought in Tom Glover and Jamie Jones as competition.
The forward line has seen renewal with Sammy Silvera, Alex Gilbert, and Morgan Rogers all already signed up. Silvera and Gilbert scored in their most recent pre-season friendly.
The squad is by no means perfect, there are gaps in their best XI in both full-back slots and, importantly, at centre forward. Last year’s hero Chuba Akpom can, of course, play as a #9, but his best displays last year came as a withdrawn forward, so Carrick will be keen to have a new centre forward. If they get one, playoffs should be the least of their targets.
🥈 Middlesbrough to finish in the Top 6
Clear sailing for Sunderland as Louis-Dreyfus captains the ship
It was a surprise for Sunderland to reach the playoffs last season, and probably ahead of their schedule.
However, since Kyril Louis-Dreyfus assumed command of the ship, there have been encouraging signs that Sunderland is steering in the right direction. Indeed, instead of slipping backwards, they have every intention to build on last year’s success and push again.
In Tony Mowbray, they have an excellent manager of young players. He allows them to go out and express themselves and he showed last year that he is able to be tactically flexible to compensate for problems that arise.
Though Sunderland will be without influential loanee Amad Diallo, they are unlikely to be without a centre forward for most of the campaign, which was a real problem in 22/23. Luis Semedo, or Hemir as he is also called, has looked very good in pre-season and, with Ross Stewart still at the club at the time of writing, there should be a player to build an attack around.
More incomings will be expected but with the age profile of the squad being so young, this team will grow together as the season goes on. Expect the likes of Pierre Ekwah and Trai Hume to be amongst the stars of the league this season, with Jobe Bellingham and Chris Rigg adding youthful exuberance off the bench.
🥈 Sunderland to finish in the Top 6
Nigel Pearson’s dark horses finally break free
It is a bit more of a longshot, but Bristol City could finally break their duck of mid-table finishes and get into the playoffs this season. Nigel Pearson has played the long game and worked with this squad over several years to shed the high earners and replace them with mainly Bristol City Academy products. The wage bill has been slashed, but also, a dynamic style of play has been coached into the team.
The confidence ahead of this season will come in a forward line consisting of the exciting talents of Tommy Conway, Anis Mehmeti, and Sam Bell, as well as the experience of Nakhi Wells and Andreas Weimann. The smart additions of Rob Dickie, Haydon Roberts, Ross McCrorie, and Jason Knight, early in the window also inspire confidence of a club that knows what it is doing, and has forward momentum.
There is a big gap to cover to get into the playoff picture, but they could be the breakthrough team of the season.
🥈 Bristol City to finish in the Top 6
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EFL Championship relegation odds
Shock relegations from the Championship are something of a rarity in recent years. Even the big clubs that have gone down to League One, such as Sheffield Wednesday, Derby, and Ipswich, had either been on the slide or had some financial issues. Sunderland’s relegation in 2016/17 was probably the most recent shocking relegation.
Ownership issues, financial mismanagement, and general incompetence in the boardroom are something else to consider when looking for who could be relegated from the Championship. Reading fell victim to a points deduction last year that eventually sealed their fate, Wigan Athletic had a points deduction in 2019, and Derby and Sheffield Wednesday have previously fallen foul of poor decision-making at the top.
QPR to tumble down the divisions
Our first pick for the EFL Championship Relegation odds is QPR. Last season Rangers started at a sprint with Michael Beale in charge, indeed, the Super Hoops hit the top of the table in October.
However, the wheels really came off, and the appointments of Neil Critchley and then Gareth Ainsworth, after Beale went to the Glasgow version of Rangers, couldn’t right the vessel and the club came dangerously close to relegation.
The concern ahead of this season is that the playing squad looks dangerously short on quality. The style is what it is under Ainsworth, and it may be that the players will be effective under it, but there looks to be a lack of game-winners and a lack of depth in the squad.
Much work needs to be done in the transfer market, and, concerningly, there doesn’t seem to be much budget available to work with.
Wycombe came very close to staying up with Ainsworth, there is arguably more quality in this squad than that one, so hope is not lost by any means, but QPR look like a value price to finish in the bottom three.
⬇️ QPR to be relegated from the Championship
No sunshine and rainbows over the holidays for Sheffield Wednesday
There is far too much concern around events at Sheffield Wednesday over the holiday to feel good about their chances in the Championship.
There is no doubt about the size of the club and its suitability for the league, but there are concerns about the continued leadership of Dejphon Chansiri. Darren Moore left the club in the summer in circumstances that have never been made entirely clear, with former Watford boss Xisco Munoz being brought in.
Munoz led Watford to the Premier League in his stint there, so there are no black marks from that record, but at the same time, he never managed to fully convince that he had much to do with that success. He was jettisoned very quickly into Watford’s subsequent Premier League season.
There is also a lot of concern about the lack of activity in the transfer market. Only Reece James has been brought in so far, and he was a loan squad member last season. Barry Bannan turns 34 in this Championship season and surely cannot be expected to drag the team over the line alone.
If additional talent isn’t brought in during this transfer window then the current price for Wednesday to finish in the bottom three is simply too big.
⬇️ Sheffield Wednesday to be relegated from the Championship
EFL Championship top scorer odds
Chuba Akpom wasn’t even priced up by most bookmakers for EFL Championship top scorer odds this time last season. The Middlesbrough man had come off another year out on loan at PAOK, a club that he has still played more matches for than any other, and ended the season almost doubling his career tally of league goals.
With this as a precedent, it is difficult to be supremely confident in any top scorer odds, but there are some interesting angles to look at before triangulating onto specific names.
Firstly, it is interesting to note that of all players who have scored 10 or more goals in the Championship since 2020, only 25% have been signed by the club in that year. This is followed by the actual top scorers in the last decade as well with Ivan Toney (Brentford), Teemu Pukki (Norwich), and Andre Gray (Burnley) being the only new arrivals to have topped the charts.
If you are going to finish as top scorer in the Championship though, it helps to play for a team that has done well. No player has topped the scoring charts from a club that finished outside of the top six since Ross McCormack achieved this for Leeds in 2013/14.
The trends also suggest that Championship top scorers tend to be in their prime years. Rickie Lambert was the last player in their 30s to win the Championship Golden Boot in 2011/12, and Jamie Cureton managed it in 2006/7 for Colchester as well. It is no good being too young either, Louis Saha was the last under 23 to win for Fulham in 2000/01 at 22 years old.
Finally, it is also important that the player is the focal point for their team’s goals. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the player has to be the #9, but that he is likely to play a large number of minutes and the team will look to them for goals. Typically, the top scorers score over a third of their team’s goals in a season.
Bearing all of the above in mind then, the selections for EFL Championship Top Scorer are as follows:
Brandon Thomas-Asante to spearhead the Baggies’ attack
The man who is currently looking like the first-choice forward at a relatively well-fancied club and a player who had the highest xG per 90 output of any forward other than Chuba Akpom last season, is Brandon Thomas-Asante, and is as a result our favourite pick for EFL Championship top scorer odds.
Thomas-Asante also hits the mark of being in his prime, he turns 25 in December, and he has been able to have a season to acclimatise to his current club and the league.
Whilst Carlos Corberan wouldn’t be known as the most attacking coach, in his successful season at Huddersfield, he was consistent in playing Danny Ward as his main forward and Ward returned his best-ever season. Thomas-Asante has the pace and power to make a bigger impact than Ward did as well, he has been relatively prolific in his short time at Albion already.
⚽ Brandon Thomas-Asante to be Championship top scorer
Josh Sargent to take on a central role for Norwich
Josh Sargent is another player who ticks a lot of the boxes that we are looking for. He is a bit young, 23 turning 24, but as things stand at Norwich he is set to be the central forward and he has been with the club for two seasons now.
It was widely accepted that Sargent played his best football through the middle of last year for Norwich. With Teemu Pukki having left for the MLS, Sargent may now get a larger percentage of the minutes in that central role and this gives him the platform to improve his goal tally from the 13 he achieved last term.
David Wagner has been very attacking as Norwich’s coach as well, If this continues then plenty of chances could be coming Sargent’s way.
⚽ Josh Sargent to be the Championship top scorer
Tommy Conway to surge Bristol City to the playoffs
The final selection for this market represents the dark horses for the playoffs. Certainly, if Bristol City are able to get there then it feels very likely that Tommy Conway will have to score a lot of goals.
He is only 20, so to win the Golden Boot he will have to break the age trends, but he is a big price and would pay out a place very nicely indeed.
He got 9 Championship goals from less than 2000 minutes last season when he was just finding his feet in the first team. Bristol City’s pre-season has seen Conway bag a hatful already and he looks set to take a key role this term, with Nakhi Wells playing more of a supporting role. Conway is a dynamic player who looks to be able to score all types of goals, he may well outrun his odds here.
⚽ Tommy Conway to be the Championship top scorer
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