EFL Season Preview and Tips – Part One – Championship, League 1 & League 2

This coming weekend, after teams played their Carabao Cup first round games last week, the Football League season, as well as the Premier League season, will get underway for the vast majority of teams this coming weekend. In the first of this two-part series of articles, we are going to focus on the three divisions of the Football League, before we take a more in-depth look at the Premier League in the second article.

With three divisions, the Football League is the heartbeat of English football. With teams in the Championship desperate to try and get into the lucrative Premier Leagues and the teams in the divisions below that hoping to move through the divisions to also earn a bigger slice of the financial pie that comes with climbing into the upper echelons of English football.

The start of the new football season is always a big event in England and across the world, especially with the Premier League and Football League kicking off at the same time for the first time in a good few years. As such, interest in all these games is expected to be huge with many football fans excited to perhaps have their first bet of the new season. If you want to be one of them and need somewhere to sign up, then take a look at the current deal on offer with the Bet365 New Player Bonus.

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In part two of this article we will focus on the top bets we are looking to back in the Premier League this coming season, but for now, we are going to focus on the three divisions in the Football league in turn, giving you our tips for the teams to back for the title or for promotion from each of the three divisions.

Championship

The three relegated teams from the Premier League feature heavily amongst the favourites to gain promotion from the Championship, alongside beaten playoff finalists Brentford, but I think Norwich, Watford and Bournemouth won’t be the team lifting the title come the end of the season.

My pick here is Nottingham Forest who missed out on the playoffs in dramatic fashion last season but who I think are well-managed, have some fine players and who have the potential to improve on their performances last season to earn a spot in the Premier League.

I do feel at least one of the relegated teams will join Forest and while I think both Norwich and Bournemouth have a chance, Watford would be my pick to bounce back up as I feel they are well suited to Championship football and will retain enough talented players to do well at this level.

As for the third promoted team, I fancy Michael O’Neill to get to grips with Stoke City this season to put themselves in the playoffs and to earn a spot in the Premier League. He is a very talented manager and has a squad that underperformed greatly last season, He is well capable of getting much more out of them this time around.

It could be a long season for the likes of Luton, Barnsley, Rotherham, Wycombe and Reading as I feel these will be the teams involved in the relegation battle.

Champions – Nottingham Forest – 12/1

Promoted to the Premier League – Watford, Stoke City

League One

The one name that stands large in League One this season is that of Sunderland. Far too big a club to be playing at this level, the Black Cats were in decent form heading into the end of the season before the postponement ruined their chances of promotion. I expect them to be the standout team in this division this season and they are my tip for the top of the table.

The battle behind them though will be far more open. I think Peterborough, another team that missed out due to how the season was ended, will be desperate to improve on that last season and flush with cash from the sale of striker James Toney, they have funds to invest in the squad that mean I see them as genuine promotion candidates here.

While I expect the likes of Hull, Wigan, Fleetwood Town, Portsmouth and Ipswich to push hard, I think the third spot could be taken by Burton Albion. The team were somewhat distracted by their cup exploits last season but they are better than their 33/1 odds suggest and I fancy them to perhaps sneak into the Championships via the playoffs.

It could be a long season for the likes of Rochdale, AFC Wimbledon, Accrington Stanley, Northampton, Shrewsbury Town and Gillingham who I think will likely be those battling against the drop.

Champions – Sunderland – 7/1

Promoted to the Championship – Peterborough United, Burton Albion

League Two

With new boys Barrow and Harrogate Town in the division, plus the likes of relegated sides Bolton, Southend and Tranmere Rovers, it promises to be an intriguing season ahead in League Two. The bookmakers have Bolton as the 5/1 favourites to go back up as Champions, with Salford 13/2, Mansfield 11/1, Exeter 12/1 and Tranmere 14/1. There are then a quartet of teams at 16/1, Cheltenham, Port Vale, Bradford and Forest Green.

Of those teams, Port Vale at 16/1 are the one that I fancy the most as they were unlucky to miss out on the playoffs last season, they have kept the nucleus of that squad together and after missing out last year, they will be well motivated this time around.

You can also say that for Tranmere Rovers, who were relegated by 0.09 of a point from League One with the season ending after Rovers had recorded three away wins in succession. Michael Jackson is their new boss but a lack of goals could be their problem.

Other teams I expect to be battling it out near the top include Bolton, Mansfield, Newport County (who are 25/1 chances and well worth an each way bet) and Scunthorpe United (who are even better value at 33/1).

I expect Barrow and Harrogate to have enough to stay in this league, but I do feel it could be a tough year for Crawley Town, Stevenage and Morecambe who could all be involved in the fight to avoid the drop into the Conference.

Champions – Port Vale – 16/1

Promoted to League One – Scunthorpe United, Newport County, Tranmere Rovers

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