Who are our Top Tips for The Championship, League One and League Two This Season?
While most Premier League teams are enjoying their final week of preparation ahead of the new season starting next weekend (apart from Manchester City and Chelsea who meet at Wembley on Sunday for the Community Shield), the 72 teams in the Football League’s three divisions, The Championship, League One and League Two get their arduous 46-game season underway this weekend.
All teams are in action across the weekend in all three divisions and it is promising to be an exciting season regardless of which division your favourites are playing in.
As always, the start of the football season is always a massive weekend for fans across the UK and it is always one of the biggest for betting too, with many fans placing their bets on the teams that they think will win their league, be promoted, or suffer relegation.
So what we have done is previewed each of the three divisions, the games coming up across the weekend and given you our tips for the winner of each of the games being played this weekend, as well as our views on who will be promoted and who is most likely to suffer relegation at the end of the season.
As always, the odds are provided by bet365 Sport, our first choice for sports betting, and were correct at the time of writing, but may have changed subsequently since the article was first written.
- 1st and 2nd Place teams promoted to the Premier League.
- 3rd to 6th contest the playoffs, with one team promoted via the playoffs.
- 22nd, 23rd and 24th placed teams relegated to League One
Championship Fixtures – Sat 4th August 3pm Kick Off Unless Stated
- Reading v Derby County (Fri 3rd Aug – 8pm)
- Birmingham City v Norwich City
- Brentford v Rotherham United
- Bristol City v Nottingham Forest
- Ipswich Town v Blackburn Rovers
- Millwall v Middlesbrough
- Preston North End v Queens Park Rangers
- West Brom v Bolton Wanderers
- Wigan Athletic v Sheffield Wednesday
- Sheffield United v Swansea City (Sat 4th Aug – 5.30pm)
- Leeds United v Stoke City (Sun 5th Aug – 4.30pm)
- Hull City v Aston Villa (Mon 6th Aug – 7.45pm)
One to Watch – Leeds United
The appointment of Bielsa, one of the most divisive but highly respected figures in world football, as Leeds boss could be a masterstroke, or an utter disaster. Given Leeds board tendency to sack managers quickly, this could be a short reign for Bielsa unless he makes a quick start. However he is a very able manager and if he gets it right, it could be a fantastic season for Leeds. Either way, it will be an entertaining watch seeing how it all unfolds at Elland Road.
One to Avoid – Swansea City
While I think the appointment of Graham Potter is an astute one, I don’t see how Swansea have addressed their lack of goals scored over the summer thus far and while the Championship may offer easier pickings that the Premier League, they don’t have the goals up front, in my view, to make a serious challenge for the top spots as things stand.
Biggest Surprise – Wigan Athletic
Paul Cook’s team were superb in League One last season and even knocked Manchester City out of the FA Cup and I think they are a going to have a good season back in the Championship. I can’t see them challenging for the promotion spots just yet, but they could well make a run at the playoffs and if they reach them, then they’ll be a threat to any team they face.
For The Top (To Be Promoted Tips) – Middlesbrough (3/1), Stoke City (6/4), Derby County (5/1)
For the Drop (To Be Relegated Tips) – Bolton (Evens), Hull City (7/2), QPR (9/2)
- 1st and 2nd placed teams promoted to The Championship
- 3rd to 6th contest the playoffs with one team promoted via the playoffs.
- 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th placed teams relegated to League Two
League Two Fixtures – Sat 4th August, 3pm Kick Off Unless Stated
- Sunderland v Charlton Athletic (Sat 04 Aug, 12.30pm)
- Accrington Stanley v Gillingham
- Barnsley v Oxford United
- Burton Albion v Rochdale
- Coventry City v Scunthorpe United
- Fleetwood Town v AFC Wimbledon
- Peterborough United v Bristol Rovers
- Portsmouth v Luton Town
- Shrewsbury Town v Bradford City
- Southend United v Doncaster Rovers
- Walsall v Plymouth Argyle
- Wycombe Wanderers v Blackpool
One to Watch – Charlton Athletic
The appointment of Lee Bowyer as manager last season was a shrewd move and while Charlton fell in the playoff semifinals last season, I think their squad, and their talented crop of youngsters, is more than good enough to improve on that showing this season and make a real challenge for the top of the table, especially if they can keep caretaker boss Bowyer at the helm.
One to Avoid – Sunderland
After two successive relegations, a change of owner and a new manager in the form of ex-St Mirren boss Jack Ross heralds the start of a new era. However, while their squad is undeniably the best in this division, they are going to have to make massive cuts and is this current team equipped for life in League One? I’m not so sure they’ll start brightly, but they could sneak through via the playoffs.
Biggest Surprise – Portsmouth
It’s been a bleak few years for Pompey fans, but last season they finished 8th in League One and I think with Kenny Jackett as manager, they have every chance of improving significantly on that this season. Their squad is battle-hardened at this level and with a proven goalscorer in Brett Pitman, they should be very strong this season.
For The Top (To Be Promoted Tips) – Portsmouth (4/1), Charlton Athletic (9/2), Sunderland (Evens)
For the Drop (To Be Relegated Tips) – Accrington Stanley (5/4), Walsall (2/1), Rochdale (3/1), AFC Wimbledon (5/2)
- 1st, 2nd and 3rd placed teams promoted to League One
- 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th placed teams enter playoffs with one team winning promotion via playoffs
- 23rd and 24th placed teams relegated to the Vanarama Conference
League Two Fixtures Saturday 4th August 3pm Kick Off
- Bury v Yeovil Town
- Cheltenham v Crawley Town
- Crewe Alexandra v Morecambe
- Exeter v Carlisle
- Grimsby Town v Forest Green Rovers
- Mansfield v Newport County
- Northampton v Lincoln City
- Notts County v Colchester
- Oldham v MK Dons
- Port Vale v Cambridge United
- Stevenage v Tranmere Rovers
- Swindon Town v Macclesfield Town
One to Watch – Notts County
Since Kevin Nolan took over as manager at Notts County their fortunes have improved a great deal. A controversial playoff defeat to Coventry City at the semifinal stage ended their hopes of promotion last season but I think they are perfectly poised to bounce back from that and earn promotion outright this season,
One to Avoid – MK Dons
MK Dons are one of the bookies big favourites to jump straight back up to League One this season but this is a big test for Paul Tisdale, who has been appointed the new manager after spending many years at Exeter. This is a bigger test for him and while he inherits a decent squad, I don’t see the quality needed to make them an obvious choice to earn promotion immediately.
Biggest Surprise – Tranmere Rovers
Rovers regained their Football League status at Wembley in May when after playing with 10 men for almost 90 minutes, they defeated Boreham Wood 2-1 to earn a place back in the Football League. With new owners driving the club forward, who have the clubs best interests at heart, and some decent pre-season signings, Rovers should not struggle this season and could even make a surprise run for the playoffs.
For The Top (To Be Promoted Tips) – Notts County (5/4), Lincoln City (9/4), Swindon Town (11/4), Oldham Athletic (4/1)
For the Drop (To Be Relegated Tips) – Morecambe (5/2), Crawley Town (6/1)