EFL fan Tom Love (@TomLove_18) has scoured the dozens of Championship specials markets and shared his best bets ahead of the 2020/21 big kick-off.
WLB Season Preview 2020/21 | Championship: Specials
Swansea to finish in the top-six (3/1 Unibet)
It took a remarkable turn of events for Swansea to end up in the play- offs last season. Steve Cooper’s men had the slimmest of chances on the final day of the season, needing a sizeable win at Reading, along with other results going their way, and that proved the case. It did mean The Swans had to face a strong Brentford side in the semi-finals, nevertheless, City competed admirably in two hard-fought contests.
It's a relatively young squad Cooper possesses but he will be accustomed to that given his previous role at England and with Liverpool youth setups. His time with the national team means he has close ties to some of the players that were part of that 2017 U17’s World Cup winning squad.
Last term Cooper utilised the loan market expertly, bringing in the likes of Freddie Woodman, Marc Guehi, Connor Gallagher and Rhian Brewster who all shone in their time in South Wales.
Woodman and Guehi have returned for another year whilst Morgan Gibbs-White has joined from Wolves on a temporary basis and is expected to play in a more advanced role than he did for the Old Gold. Another benefit for Cooper is the excellent crop of youngsters coming through the academy system at the Liberty.
Defenders Joe Rodon and Ben Cabango have shown they are more than comfortable at this level whilst Yan Dhanda and Jordon Garrick may look to make more of an impact this season.
It’s their midfield I really like though, especially the classy Matt Grimes who can dictate play better than most in the middle of the park. Jay Fulton and George Byers add steel and energy whilst new signing Korey Smith will bring even more reassurance on the ball and a good delivery.
The experience in the side comes from the ever-reliable attacking duo Wayne Routledge and Andre Ayew. Jamal Lowe has come in to add more of an attacking threat from wide positions. Cooper will no doubt be after a replacement for Brewster at the top of the pitch but I have faith in him bringing in a quality frontman before the close of the transfer window.
At the end of the day, Swansea did finish in the top-six last season, even by the narrowest of margins, but their young players will have benefitted from the experience and trust the softly-spoken gaffer to have a few tricks up his sleeve in the January window if the squad needs beefing up. Quotes of 3/1 (Unibet) look generous for the well-run club to repeat the feat and earn a play-off spot at the very least.
Brentford to win Outright and Ivan Toney to be Top Goalscorer (40/1 SkyBet)
One market that doesn’t get too much attention is the Outright Winner and Top Goalscorer double and it’s understandable because of the wealth of permutations that come with it. However, this is often reflected in the odds.
Brentford had a great season last time around but just failed at the end. It would’ve taken something special to oust Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds at the top of the table but with El Loco and co no longer in the division it looks a much more balanced league in 2020/21.
It’s been year-on-year progression for the Bees and their smart recruitment drive means that losing key players from the previous campaign means less than you might think.
I can remember writing the Championship's Top Goalscorer piece last season and at the time of publication Neal Maupay was linked with a move away – he duly left about a week or so after. It was clear to me that they would move Ollie Watkins, who had been playing as a wide forward, inside to take the number nine mantle.
I put Watkins up at 40/1 each-way and he finished just one goal behind Aleksander Mitrovic in that market after a terrific season. The likelihood is the man who cost them less than £2m will be heading to a Premier League side for a bumper fee after one prolific campaign and make the Londoners a cool £20m profit. Brentford, that.
Said Benrahma was another player who shone, and it would be a surprise if he didn’t make a move to a top division for around the same money. He mocked the Championship last season. But trust the busy Bees to have a replacement lined up for the Algerian, whether that be in-house with the talented Halil Dervisoglu who signed from Sparta Rotterdam in January, Tariqe Fosu, or perhaps someone they’d be happy to pay a fee for elsewhere.
Watkins' replacement has already arrived at the brand-spanking new Brentford Community Stadium and that man is Ivan Toney. Toney arrives from another clever recruiting team, Peterborough United.
Posh knew they had a gem and the bargain fee of £650,000 has been made to look a real snip after he bagged 40 goals in 76 games for the London Road outfit who then sold him on for £5m rising to £10m with various add-ons.
I talked about Toney in last year’s League One Top Goalscorer preview and we cashed in a lovely 16/1 winner backing him to smash the top gong. Funnily enough, Peterborough have replaced Toney with the other player I put up in Jonson Clarke-Harris. They’re two clubs who epitomise savvy transfer activity.
This season Toney has gone straight in at the top of the market with prices as short as 8/1 for the former Newcastle man to finish top of the tree. I’m not sure quotes so short make appeal but he is up there on merit, for a team that always creates plenty of good goalscoring chances.
Brentford are chalked up just half a point bigger than favourites Norwich at 7/1 to win the league. I fancy the Bees to challenge once again, particularly with their strong backline that Thomas Frank has done a great job at solidifying. Should the capital club be in the running for the title as bookies predict, you’d think Toney would’ve contributed a great deal in terms of goals.
SkyBet are offering a tasty 40/1 on Brentford winning the Championship and Toney being the league’s Top Goalscorer and at that price I think it’s got to be worth a few quid for interest.