The new English domestic football season kicks off this weekend with what is certain to be 10 months of fantastic quality football, excitement, passion, drama & all off that will combine to give millions of football fans great pleasure & entertainment.
The Premier League action starts in 2 weeks time but this coming weekend is all about the tens of managers, the hundreds of players & millions of fans that make up the 72 teams in the football league & it is their big chance to shine in the spotlight.
English football is the most competitive in the world & that is certainly the case within the Championship, League 1 & League 2 as every year it becomes an ever increasingly difficult task to assess the leagues with confidence & deciding who will win the leagues, who will be promoted & who will be relegated can almost be described as mission impossible for punters.
While the task of finding the league winner is tough, we at http://www.bettingpreview.co.uk/blog/ have had a good look at the betting markets for the Championship, League 1 & League 2 and here are our own independent views on the teams we feel are worth following & who offer betting value at this stage:
Ante-post views for the Championship:-
Now usually I sit down to look at the ante-post markets for the Championship at this stage of the season & I normally find myself thinking that the Championship just looks almost impossibly competitive with as many as 10 teams looking to have a fair & reasonable chance of winning The Championship but that doesn’t look the case at all this year with all the bookmakers agreed that there are are 2 clear standout contenders for the prize.
This season the ante-post market for the Championship appears to completely evolve around expectations that West Ham United & Leicester City will be the two major contenders this year & both share favouritism in the betting markets in & around the 5/1 mark with the rest some distance back at anything from 12/1 upwards.
So the key questions to this season in the Championship is do West Ham United & Leicester City both deserve favourite status & if so which one of those two big clubs will take the prize this season.
My answer to the first part is yes I completely believe that both Sam Allardyce’s West Ham United & Sven Goran Eriksson’s Leicester City have everything in place to be the powerhouses in the Championship & I totally understand the reaction of the bookmakers to make them both clear contenders for the Championship.
Last season was a complete disaster for West Ham United, there is no other way to describe with such incredible levels of negativity & depression surrounding the club after their pathetic performances as a club during a season that resulted in a tame & lifeless relegation from the Premier League to the Championship.
Based on the negativity that surrounded West Ham United, it may seem dangerous to assume that things will automatically be different this season because teams have got relegated before from the Premier League & continued to drop through the leagues but quite simply I don’t see that happening with West Ham United because they have finally made a proper managerial appointment with Sam Allardyce installed into the very hot-seat at West Ham United.
Gianfranco Zola was popular as manager at West Ham but ultimately lacked the experience to handle the pressure & failed while Avram Grant was just a disaster from day one, the fans never really supported him, the negativity around him was a huge factor in the negativity surrounding the club & ultimately Avram Grant was again found to be out of his depth at this level.
So now West Ham United find themselves as a club in need of strong leadership, experienced management & proven ability to generate team spirit & belief and now finally in Sam Allardyce they should have the right man for the job & a manager who can handle everything that comes with being at West Ham United.
The signings of Kevin Nolan & Matty Taylor, two players who excelled & mader their names under Sam Allardyce, really do give West Ham a big boost of experience & quality, combine that with an already talented squad and with more signings sure to come, West Ham United look a really solid bet to have a serious shot at the Championship title & very, very strong contenders to gain automatic promotion back to the Premier League.
In the case of Leicester City then Sven Goran Eriksson & the club’s owners look totally & utterly determined to get the club back into the Premier League with a relentless, intensely active transfer policy that has to be seen to believed at this level.
Quite simply Leicester City have so far endeavoured to go heavy & go big into the transfer market with big wages & big fees invested to capture the likes of Matt Mills, John Pantsil, David Nugent, Kasper Schmeichel, Sean St Ledger, Michael Johnson, Paul Konchesky all of whom who are experienced, quality players with the promise of more big moves to come to make Leicester City’s squad stronger & superior to probably every other side in the Championship apart from West Ham United.
The risk with Leicester City is that Sven Goran Eriksson has to find a way for all of these new players to settle together & it may start slowly for them but the players are so good & so experienced that Sven Goran Eriksson will surely make it work & when that happens it will make Leicester City very hard to stop this season & like West Ham United they look serious title & promotion contenders.
Of course the Championship is a league that consists of 24 clubs & has always proven to be a fiercely competitive league so it cannot be simply dismissed as a two horse race with huge clubs such as Nottingham Forest, Leeds United, Cardiff City, Birmingham City, Reading, Ipswich, Southampton & Burnley all determined to have a real go at reaching the promise land of the Premier League & the tremendous riches that will bring.
All of those clubs mentioned with give it their very best shot & have talent within their squads to push but at the same time they all have big questions to answer first with Steve Maclaren having to prove himself at Nottingham Forest, Chris Hughton charged with turning around relegated Birmingham City under limited finances, Malkay Mackay taking over at Cardiff City with a small squad lacking numbers, Reading & Burnley looking likely to lose their better players with Ipswich & Southampton look like clubs in early stages of progression.
The teams who want to win the Championship & gain promotion will have to show immense commitment, belief, quality, determination & a willingness to compete solidly for 10 long, hard months so it will be a serious test of managers & players and as things stand right now West Ham United & Leicester City do look the two best placed teams to have an all out fight for the title.
So West Ham United & Leicester City do look absolute standout contenders for the Championship title & it will be a major shock if either of those two fail to win promotion, the financial strength of Leicester City & their ability to keep strengthening what is already a very strong squad makes Leicester City seriously appealing & very hard to dismiss over the course of the season but I just believe that Sam Allardyce’s proven experience in this type of scenario could be the decisive factor this season as he will have a quality squad at his disposal at West Ham United & the East London club get my vote but it will most probably be quite close.
West Ham United get my recommendation as the main bet but I have huge respect for what Leicester City are likely to offer & so a saver bet on Leicester City also has to form part of the ante-post portfolio, with West Ham United & Leicester City both covered it should give me a huge run for my money this season.
Betting Recommendations for the Championship:
Main Bet:- West Ham United each way for the Championship
Saver Bet:- Leicester City each way
Ante-post views for League 1:-
League 1 is always fiercely competitive & it really is a tough test that any team has to pass & pass well if they are to win the League and that will definitely be the case again this season but I believe one team do look outstanding contenders to take the main prize this time around.
In my opinion Lee Clark’s Huddersfield Town are the strongest looking contenders for League 1 this year after finishing a very good 6th two seasons ago & then improving on that again last year to go very, very close to automatic promotion with a very good points total in 3rd position that probably would have usually seen them promoted in a normal season but the incredible strength of Brighton & Southampton meant they just missed out.
Obviously Lee Clark’s Huddersfield Town do have to prove they can bounce back after their Play-Off Final defeat against Peterborough but I personally don’t see a problem on that front as Lee Clark is a mentally strong, determined character & a very positive man-manager who will be able to again drive his players on & inspire them and for me Huddersfield Town do set a very good standard for everybody else to aim at & I really cannot see them finishing outside the top 3 again this year making them look banker each way material at the very least.
Sheffield Wednesday & Sheffield United are rated by the bookmakers to be the main rivals to Huddersfield Town and clearly the one thing those two big local rivals can count upon is fantastic support in huge numbers but in turn that brings huge pressure & expectations and I personally think those pressures make backing either of the Sheffield clubs a risky proposition at this early stage.
Phil Brown will certainly be endeavouring to get Preston back into the Championship at the first attempt & he has the proven experience to know what will be required but whether he can do enough quick enough with a very limited squad will remain to be seen & again probably best to wait to see how Preston start the season before placing any concrete financial interest in them.
The other team that greatly interests me as a value each way option for League 1 this season is MK Dons who in my opinion have one of the most talented & promising young managers in Karl Robinson & I think he can again inspire what appears to be a talented squad for this level & a squad that can do a good job in what is a wide open league.
The other teams that I believe will have good seasons & be in contention for the play-offs include Notts County, Scunthorpe, Chesterfield, Bournemouth & Charlton and everything looks set for another cracking season in League 1.
Betting Recommendations for League 1:
Main Bet: Huddersfield Town each way for League 1
Saver Bet: MK Dons each way for League 1
Ante-post views for League 2:-
My feelings for League 2 are quite simplistic but entirely accurate as I believe League 2 is & always has been a complete lottery & puzzle that looks almost impossible for punters to solve although this year the bookmakers don’t quite share that view.
I have heard it said that the National Lottery would be entirely appropriate sponsors for League 2 because the chances of correctly & confidently predicting the winners of League 2 before a ball has been kicked are similar to the chances of winning the lottery.
Ok, that is an exaggeration on my part but a valid one as it perfectly portrays the difficulty in deciding which team or group of teams will go well in League 2 this season & fight their way to success through what must be the toughest & most competitive league anywhere, if there is another tougher league to solve then I certainly can’t think of another league like it .
The honest truth with League 2 is that all the teams are capable of beating each other, home or away, and that has always been the case in this incredible league and definitely likely to be the case again this year so the question is how does that reflect in the betting markets for League 2.
The answer to that is the bookmakers have installed Crawley as very clear, outright favourites for League 1 & on the face of it the general price of 3/1 for Crawley to take League 1 does look very, very short for such a competitive league.
The thought of taking 3/1 about a team in the ultra-competitive 24 team League 1 would not have been a thought that I would have welcomed or considered for longer than a few seconds in recent years & the odds seem short but again I do believe the bookmakers are not far wrong in having Crawley so far clear of their rivals.
Crawley are stepping up from dominating Non-League football into the big time of League football & it will be a real challenge for them but they are a seriously well run club with a fantastic budget for League 2 level & most importantly a club with positive momentum of achieving & winning and the confidence gained from that could well be the key to their hopes again this year.
Crawley invested big to get promotion to the football league last season & I am sure they will continue to invest to have a serious go at getting promotion again this season so as this stand right now, Crawley do look the team to beat in League 2 this year.
Of course while Crawley do look a solid bet for League 2, it makes perfect sense in such a fiercely competitive league to add a few more options to the portfolio and in my view the best looking value options are Shrewsbury Town & Accrington Stanley.
Shrewsbury Town had a very good, consistent season last year & went very close to securing automatic promotion, only missing out on the final weekend with that & then unfortunately failing to do themselves justice in the play-offs after that.
Every team that goes through failure in the play-offs has to prove they can bounce back & that will be a test for Shrewsbury Town this season but they proved last year they had a very good, consistent team & as long as they don’t suffer a hangover from the play-offs, then I can see Shrewsbury Town having another cracking season this year & they look excellent each way value.
Accrington Stanley are a general 40/1 shot for League 2 this year & admittedly they may well be a slightly risky proposition but at that price the risk is definitely worth taking about a team who always look to play excellent, attacking football & always look to win games and if they can find consistency in performance & results this year that 40/1 might end up looking absolutely massive come the end of the season.
Betting Recommendations for League 2:-
Main Bet:- Crawley to win League 2
Saver Bets:- Accrington Stanley & Shrewsbury Town each way for League 2
Those are our own independent views on what we believe to be the best value betting options in the Championship, League 1 & League 2 and we hope they provide ideas & indeed betting success for the season ahead.
Whatever ante-post football bets you choose to go for, we of course recommend that you shop around for the best prices & best terms and we at http://www.bettingpreview.co.uk/blog/ of course wish you all the best of luck with your football bets for the season.