The Championship: Mid-Season Betting Report

-

Which clubs will win promotion to the Premier League in 2014? Today Championship analyst Tim Simon takes a look at the key Championship betting markets heading into the second half of the season.

The battle to reach the promised land of the Premier League has reached its halfway stage and for the teams that have got themselves into a good position at the top of the Championship table, now comes the real test – staying there.

The script for teams at the other end of the table reads completely differently. Several teams are already scrapping for points in order to get above the dreaded relegation line before the 3rd May, in a bid to play Championship football next season.

There are certainly some clear indications as to where teams are likely to finish at the end of the season. But who will reach the Premier League and who will drop out of the second tier of English football? Here are some tips on where to place your money.

To Win The Championship

Leicester

The Foxes are currently top of the table; four points clear of their nearest rivals and are understandably favourites to stay there. Nigel Pearson’s men have shown the most consistency this season by far, winning 16 of their 24 games.

Most importantly, they have played as a team, without any real stand-out individual performances, something which is incredibly important if you are to be successful in this tremendously difficult league. From the sturdy Wes Morgan at the back, to the elegance of Anthony Knockaert in midfield to the clinical David Nugent up front, they appear to possess the perfect blend and rightly sit at the summit of the Championship.

QPR

Despite winning just one of their last four games, Harry Redknapp’s QPR will definitely be there or thereabouts come May. They have conceded just 14 goals in 24 games so far but the real issue has been at the other end of the pitch. It appears in making the Hoops’ backline so sturdy that Redknapp has over-compensated slightly because they have only managed to score 26 goals at the other end, with only seven teams in the league scoring less.

But with a wealth of Premier League class such as Charlie Austin, Richard Dunne and Benoit Assou-Ekotto in their squad, there is no doubt QPR are major contenders to take the Championship crown.

Burnley

The story of this season so far has been the rise of Burnley. The Clarets sit in second-place, four points behind leaders Leicester and in Danny Ings they have one of the most in-form forwards in the Championship. Only Leeds striker Ross McCormack (17) and Blackburn’s Jordan Rhodes (16) have scored more than Ings’ 15 and Burnley will need him to keep up both his goal-scoring record and his phenomenal understanding with strike-partner Sam Vokes if they are to remain in the promotion hunt.

Many expected Sean Dyche’s men to have dropped off the pace already because of a lack of squad depth but they have so far proven their doubters wrong.

Value Bet: Derby

Steve McClaren’s Derby represent fantastic value to take the Championship title, especially if you take their recent form into account. Although their loss to Wigan last week brought their nine-match unbeaten run to an end, they are still extremely strong contenders at the top end of the league.

McClaren knows his strongest team and has a great mix of mentally-strong experience and exuberant youth. With a couple more quality signings, which would bulk up their squad even further, they will definitely have enough to make it to the Premier League.

TeamOpening OddsBest OddsBookmaker
Leicester 15.00 2.50
QPR 7.50 3.25
Derby 34.00 6.50
Burnley 81.00 11.00

To Win Promotion

Nottingham Forest

Forest destroyed West Ham 5-0 in the FA Cup on Sunday, a result which must surely make the rest of the Championship take notice. They have been going about their business steadily so far this season and at the moment, they comfortably sit in 5th place in the league, seven points off the automatic promotion spots.

Any promotion campaign tends to have a defining and memorable result in it and the drubbing of West Ham could be the one that kick-starts a winning streak for Forest that pushes them into automatic promotion contention.

Value Bets: Wigan and Brighton

Wigan and Brighton represent good value for punters looking to have a gamble. Now Wigan are out of the Europa League, they can fully focus on their league form which suffered heavily due to their foreign excursions. The five-match unbeaten run in the league since Uwe Rosler replaced the sacked Owen Coyle as manager suggests that the FA Cup holders will be strong contenders in the hunt for the play-offs very soon.

Meanwhile, Oscar Garcia’s Brighton have been in-and-around the places just outside the play-offs for a long time now. They have managed a hefty early-season injury-list well and now their key players have returned, they will fancy themselves to find some form and reach the play-offs for a second-year running.

TeamOpening OddsBest OddsBookmaker
Nottingham F 5.00 4.50
Wigan 5.50 9.00
Brighton 6.00 10.00
Leeds 8.00 10.00
Reading 4.00 10.00
Ipswich 8.00 11.00

 

To Suffer Relegation

Yeovil, Barnsley and Doncaster

Things do not look good for Yeovil or Barnsley. Both teams lie five points from safety but what is more worrying is that there is a gap building between the bottom five or six and everyone else in the league, making it much tougher for them to get out of trouble.

Meanwhile, Doncaster have not won in seven matches and have slipped into the bottom three, manager Paul Dickov has a huge test on his hands to turn their fortunes around. You get the feeling that the January transfer window will be vital to all three of their seasons.

Sheffield Wednesday

The Owls didn’t win a single league game until the 2nd November, but a recent upturn in form, following the departure of former boss Dave Jones, has seen them climb out of the bottom three.

They will be glad to have renewed Connor Wickham’s loan deal until the end of January but they will surely be hoping to extend it further. The on-loan Sunderland striker has scored six goals in eight games since moving to the club in November.

Value Bet: Millwall

Without doubt, Millwall have got themselves into a dogfight. After sacking manager Steve Lomas, they have shown few signs of improving and have sunk to 21st in the league table as a result.

The 4-1 loss to League Two side Southend in the FA Cup was definitely a new low for the club as they look to remain a Championship club for a fifth straight year. They appointed the eccentric Ian Holloway on Monday in a bid to get out of trouble.

TeamOpening OddsBest OddsBookmaker
Yeovil 2.10 1.35
Barnsley 3.60 1.36
Doncaster 3.50 1.83
Millwall 5.50 3.25
Sheffield Wed 7.00 3.80
Charlton 9.00 5.50

 

Upcoming Key Fixtures

Leicester v Derby – January 10th 2014

This Midlands derby on Friday night takes on extra significance given both teams’ league positions. The promotion rivals face-off at the King Power Stadium, with Leicester looking to move a mighty 10 points clear of Derby whilst the Rams will be hoping to close the gap on the league leaders to just four. It promises to be a classic.

QPR v Burnley – February 1st 2014

Whatever happens in the next month, this match promises to be crucial in the race for promotion. Should Burnley get a result here, they will have to be taken seriously but if QPR get the result, it would put a major dent in the Clarets’ promotion hopes. This will be a big day for QPR striker Charlie Austin, who made his name as a Burnley player.

Leicester v QPR – April 19th 2014

The two favourites for the Championship title face-off in the fourth to last game of the season, in what could be a promotion or title decider. It will definitely be an entertaining Easter in Leicester.

Nottingham Forest v Brighton – May 3rd 2014

The final game of the season always guarantees thrills and spills. Both Nottingham Forest and Brighton will be hoping to end the season in the play-off places at least and they meet on the final day at the City Ground. It is sure to be a nail-biting encounter.

 

 

Looking for betting tips for The Championship? Check our Championship Betting Tips Board right throughout the season for all our community's tips for The Championship.

 

 

Follow Tim on Twitter: @TimSimon90

A passionate football fan working as a football analyst for Opta Sports. Also a freelance football writer working for a number of websites, including Squawka football and Goal UK.