Below the Premier League lays a division that has the same competitive nature and maybe even more of a fight than in the top flight, The Championship. There is one thing all teams in this division have in common, that is they all want to play in the Premier league.
There are a few ways to be promoted, one of which is the Championship title. As things currently stand, Wolverhampton are on their way up. With fifteen games remaining they are already twelve points clear of second spot. Of course they are outright favourites at this stage in the season, even more so when you see the odds.
Paddy Power offer 1/200 for Wolves to be promoted. Not great odds however, it appears to be a safe bet if statistics counts for anything. Wolverhampton currently have the best defensive record in the league, and they aren’t doing too bad on the front foot either, scoring 56 goals in 31 league matches.
Since being relegated from the Premier League, Aston Villa have bounced back in extraordinary fashion. Clubs that move down from the Premiership often struggle in the seasons to come. Villa’s 16/17 campaign was nothing special, in fact it was very average.
This season however, they have shown themselves to be the club they used to be. Steve Bruce’s men are currently on route to promotion. Odds for Villa to be promoted this season are 4/5. In the past five games they have picked up maximum points (a better record the league leaders Wolverhampton). I believe we will be seeing the purple side of Birmingham back in the Premier League next season.
The Play Offs
Four spaces below the top two are allocated to the Play Offs. A total of five games, Two semi finals (over two legs) and of course the final itself, hosted at Wembley. At the end of the Championship season, third spot plays sixth and fourth spot plays fifth. League standings mean nothing. A club placing in at sixth could be promoted along with the league winners and runners up, as long as they win the Play Offs.
As things stand, Derby County, Cardiff, Fulham and Bristol City are in the play of spots. As we have seen time and time again, anything is possible between now and the end of the season. Only Eight points separate 6th and 13th, so realistically we could see any team from the top part of the table at Wembley in May.
Cardiff’s brief flirtation in the Premier League was cut short under Ole Gunnar aS they were relegated in the same season. Controversial owner of the club, Vincent Tam will be hoping to rejoin rivals, Swansea back in the Premiership next season, if The Swans don't get relegated that is. You can currently back Cardiff for promotion with Paddy Power at 21/10.
Anther strong candidate for promotion is newly improved side, Bristol City. Clinching onto their play off spot down at sixth, odds currently at 6/1 for promotion. An ambitious but possible task for the team who have never played in the top flight. There is a long way to go until the end of the season nevertheless, having finished seventeenth last league campaign, they continue to surprise the division with results and performances.
A side with a firm threshold on promotion is the once great, Derby County. Gary Rowett’s team are now only one point behind second place Cardiff, with a head to head fixture remaining in March. If Bristol are to return to the Premier League, they will be hoping for a stronger season than their last run in division 1, having only picked up one win the entire season. Paddy Power are offering the same odds for Derby’s promotion as they as with Bristol, 6/1. If you are going to back a side in the play-off spot at this stage, you’d feel most comfortable with Derby, considering they could go up automatically.