WLB Season Preview 2019/20 | Championship: Specials

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EFL fan Tom Love (@TomLove_18) has scoured the dozens of Championship specials markets and shared his best bets ahead of the 2019/20 big kick-off.

Birmingham to be the Lowest Scoring Team (14/1 William Hill)

One team I’m quite pessimistic about in the Championship this season is Birmingham. Garry Monk did a great job but he’s now departed and his number two Pep Clotet is at the helm. Clotet has only had one full managerial job in England (with Oxford) and that was unsuccessful, so there’s still a lot of question marks surrounding him.

What’s more, the Blues have sold on key asset Che Adams and so far failed to replace him. There are well documented monetary problems at St Andrew’s and it wouldn’t surprise me if they don’t spend any of that Adams money. It leaves them light up front. Lukas Jutkiewicz is still at the club – he had a good partnership with Adams – and although he’s a big threat in the air, he’s not always been a regular and reliable goalscorer.

They’ve interestingly brought ex-Arsenal youth product Dan Crowley in from Willem II in Holland and they’ll be pinning their hopes on him being the creative fulcrum of a squad that is seriously lacking attackers. In central midfield and defence they look well stacked, at least enough to probably stay up, but at the other end of the pitch it’s a different story.

14/1 quotes (William Hill) on the Blues to be the Lowest Scoring Team in the division therefore makes great appeal in what is always a competitive league.

Stoke to be the Top Midlands Club (3/1 Bet365)

2018/19 ante-post favourites Stoke will be looking to right the wrongs of last season and they look in a much better place to do so, whilst also being an inflated price in many of the positive markets compared to 12 months ago.

Nathan Jones now has his feet firmly under the table at the Bet365 Stadium after taking over from the disappointing Gary Rowett tenure. The Potters needed this summer break more than most and I feel Jones has had a good few months to implement his ideas and philosophy, which can only be of benefit to Stoke this season.

Defensively they were sound under Jones’ watch, keeping plenty of clean sheets towards the back end of the season. They lacked goals though and it was no surprise to see City finish with the most draws in the division.

I think Stoke will be a different beast this year; they’ve even improved their backline bringing in Tommy Smith – who has recent promotion history with Huddersfield – and the same can be said for Liam Lindsay who was one of the best centre-halves in League One last term, not to mention the duo already in situ in Ryan Shawcross and Bruno Martins-Indi.

Stephen Ward also adds depth and experience to fight with highly thought-of youth product Tom Edwards at right-back. Adam Davies also comes in from the Tykes between the sticks after an impressive campaign to give competition to England international Jack Butland.

In midfield they have the choice of tenacious Peter Etebo and Joe Allen or the passing supreme Ryan Woods. Then behind the frontline, in what looks like it could be a 4-2-3-1 formation they have the option of Nick Powell, James McClean, Sam Clucas, Thibaut Verlinden, Jordan Cousins and Julien Ngoy. Spearheading the attack they have alternative threats in Lee Gregory, Sam Vokes, Benik Afobe, Mame Biram Diouf and Bojan.

It’s a star studded squad and the strength in depth is excellent. They have a progressive manager who has had a transfer window to himself and the Bet365-backed club have put their money where their mouth is.

Bet365 themselves have the Potters at 3/1 to be the Top Midlands Club. To claim such an award they would have to finish above West Brom, Nottingham Forest, Derby and Birmingham.

I’ve made my thoughts clear on the latter, and the middle two in Forest and Derby are going through managerial change and I don’t see either challenging given the players that have left. The same can be said for West Brom who have lost a few key players, namely Jay Rodriguez and Dwight Gayle. I have to say I’m not sold on Slaven Bilic either.

I’d have Stoke as favourites in this market so there looks to be a bit of value in the 3/1 quotes.

Best Bets

Championship 2019/20 – Birmingham to be the Lowest Scoring Team (14/1 William Hill)

Championship 2019/20 – Stoke to be Top Midlands Club (3/1 Bet365)

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