Who will challenge Leeds United for automatic promotion from the Championship?
The Championship is one of the most competitive and rigorous domestic football leagues in the world, and the 2017-18 campaign is shaping up to be one of the best in recent years. The second tier of English football is replete with historic and big clubs, and it would take a brave man to predict the winners of the title this season. Leeds United, Sheffield Wednesday, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Middlesbrough all are the in the mix; in fact, even Cardiff City will fancy their chances of automatic promotion given the start they have made.
It’s early days in the 2017-18 Championship season, but the signs are looking very promising for Leeds. Not only have the Whites played the best football in the division so far this season, but they have also been defensively solid. Just three goals conceded in eight league fixtures underline the great partnership Pontus Jansson and Liam Cooper have forged at the back for the West Yorkshire outfit. Then there is Felix Wiedwald, a goalkeeper who has experience of playing top-flight football in Germany with Werder Bremen and who has been brilliant for the Whites so far this season.
Leeds may have lost New Zealand international striker Chris Wood to Premier League club Burnley in the summer transfer window, but they are not missing the 25-year-old at the moment. Pierre-Michel Lasogga, signed on a season-long loan deal from Hamburg in the summer transfer window, has hit the ground running, while there have been goals from players such as Stuart Dallas, Kemar Roofe, Samuel Saiz and Kalvin Phillips. It seems that this season under head coach Thomas Christiansen, who was appointed in his role in the summer following the departure of Garry Monk (who is now in charge of Championship rivals Middlesbrough), the team’s policy is to not to rely on one particular player to score the bulk of the goals but to spread them across several players.
Given the start that Leeds have made and their current league position, it is not hard to understand why they are 8/13 to finish in the top six this season according to the latest Championship betting odds on bet365.com. However, interestingly, it is Wolverhampton Wanderers who are bookmaker’s top favourites to win the Championship title with odds of 5/2 in their favour. Middlesbrough, who got relegated from the Premier League at the end of the 2016-17 campaign, are third favourites with odds of 6/1 despite not having made a great start to the season.
One team that punters could wager some decent money on is Sheffield Wednesday. The Owls have finished in the top six of the Championship for the past two seasons, and they do have the squad and the mentality to launch yet another challenge for the playoffs. Carlos Carvalhal’s side seem to have recovered from their slow start to the season, and it is only a matter of time before they get into their full rhythm. Given the experience that the likes of Barry Bannan, Keiren Westwood, Gary Hooper and Tom Lees have in the Championship, placing a bet on them to finish in the top two would not be a bad idea, especially as the odds are enticing enough at 7/1.