August is just around the corner, meaning we are only a couple of days away from welcoming back the top European football leagues as well as 2nd division leagues, which prove year after year they can be just as exciting as their top division counterparts. A prime example of that is the EFL Championship league which features 24 teams who battle it out in the course of 552 matches in hopes they can prove they belong in the Premier League.
In this article, we will look at how will the 2019/20 season of Championship look like, what do we expect to see happen in the course of 552 matches and who are our favourites to compete for the top 3 finish and the promotion into the EPL.
As far as the format of the league, nothing has changed for the upcoming season, with the only exceptions being 6 new teams that joined the fight for the title. Climbing their way through League One, we have got Luton Town, Barnsley and Charlton Athletic who will test their strength against 2nd division teams. On the other side, we have got Cardiff City, Fulham and Huddersfield, who failed to keep their boat afloat in the EPL last season, meaning they will have to prove their worth once more in 2019/20 should they want to return back to the top flight. On the other side, EFL Championship lost Norwich City, Sheffield United and Aston Villa to EPL and Rotherham United, Bolton Wanderers and Ipswich Town who got demoted into League One.
Despite 6 new teams in the EFL Championship and several managerial changes, which include the departure of Frank Lampard from Derby to Chelsea, the EFL Championship will more or less remain the same, with the same level of excitement and the same old electric atmosphere we are used to seeing in the English football. What has changed, however, is the expectations, the favourites and the underdogs which everyone expects to see relegated this season. While it’s too early to call out a winner, let’s check out who are by our judgement the 4 teams we believe have what it takes to go all the way and join the top flight next season.
The Main Candidates to Promote in Premier League
Currently ranked as the favourites to win the league and promote into the EPL. A fair assessment for a team which ended last season at 3rd place, only 6 points short of reaching the top 2. They were one of the main candidates to promote in Premier League last season, but they failed to do that. Despite a strong performance in the league, Leeds had to admit defeat to Derby in the playoffs following an upset 2:4 defeat which sent them packing with a 3:4 aggregate score. Nonetheless, last season is in the past and Leeds are determined to prove they belong in the Premier League once more. As a preparation for the upcoming season, the Peacocks added some fresh legs to the team, most notably Helder Costa from Wolverhampton. It was also reported their coach Bielsa decided to stay, which is good news for Leeds, who played exceptionally well under him, sadly he will be remembered for the late slump last season, which resulted in Leeds missed out on automatic promotion.
2. FULHAM F.C.
Fulham had a season to forget and will hope a good result in the 2019/20 can help them do just that. As a club who spent big last year, Fulham disappointed in a disastrous way. Not only have they not manage to achieve a mid-table finish, the Lilywhites returned straight back to the Championship after a 19th place finish. However, things are looking up for the team, who have trimmed down their squad and added Ivan Cavaleiro as well as Anthony Knockaert to the team, while Aleksandar Mitrović has decided to stay. Unfortunately, they might lose Ryan Sessegnon to Tottenham, and while that would be a huge loss for them, their chances to promote back into the EPL this season should not be harmed in a great way.
3. CARDIFF CITY
The 3rd favourites to promote, Cardiff City look like a solid team that could live up to the expectations and end up in the top 2. They might not have the best squad, but what they do have is Neil Warnock as their coach, who has done a great job as a coach in the last 3 years. On a different note, Cardiff have sold their striker Kenneth Zohore to West Brom and acquired Aden Flint and Will Vaulks, who are both considered great additions and a strong weapon in Warnock’s hands. Will they live up to the expectations and contest the top 2 spot finish is anyone’s guess, but from the looks of it, Cardiff look like a solid team that should at least reach the playoffs.
4. WEST BROMWICH ALBION
It’s hard to ignore West Brom and their chances to reach the promotion next season. While a great team on the paper, the Baggies main concern is their defence, which was not performing up to par last season and even that is an understatement. West Brom finished at an admirable 4th place last season, however, it’s worth noting that they conceded the most goals out of any team in the top half of the league. With 62 goals to their name, their defence was the only thing that held them back, meanwhile, it was West Brom’s offence which carried all the weight and scored 87 times.
Hoping for better results in 2019/20 season, West Brom assigned former Croatian national team manager Slaven Bilić as their new coach, who they hope will fix their defensive issues and get them back into the EPL. As far as new arrivals go, West Brom signed a few highly offensive players in Kenneth Zohore, Romaine Sawyers and Darnell Furlong. Surprisingly enough the team signed only one centre-back Semi Ajayi, making us wonder what is Slaven Bilic’s plan for the upcoming season and most importantly, how does he plan on fixing the defensive struggles.
Leeds and Fulham are as of now considered the favourites to go all the way, which at first glance is a fair assessment. Both have enough quality in the team to compete for top spots, however, when it comes to predicting which team will come out on top, things get more complicated. Not only have we seen several players arriving and leaving the league, there have been also quite a few changes in coaches, making the 2019/20 edition of EFL Championship not only one of the most unpredictable but at the same time also one of the most exciting to watch, as it seems like the race to the top might not be as straightforward as it may seem.