Season to kick off with Owls against Saints
The Championship season gets underway on August 4th when newly promoted Sheffield Wednesday host Southampton, relegated from the Premier League last season. The rest of the weekend will see matchday one completed as the teams embark on a marathon 46 game league programme.
Foxes, Saints and Peacocks look to bounce back
The Saints are third favourites for promotion behind the other two relegated sides, Leicester City and Leeds United. Middlesborough, Norwich City and Watford are also thought to be contenders.
The transfer window has another four weeks to run, meaning the newly relegated clubs face a battle to hang onto their top performers. Southampton have played hardball so far this summer, however, at the time of writing it looks as though highly rated defender Tino Livramento is heading back to the Premier League. Terms are said to have been agreed for the 20-year-old to join Newcastle United. James Ward-Prowse is another who could exit St Mary’s while Leeds will do well to retain the services of Wilfried Gnonto. Leicester have already lost Harvey Barnes to Newcastle and KelechiI Iheanacho could also be heading for the exit door.
Parachute payments will make it easier for the three relegated teams to outgun the rest of the league. Leicester possibly look the strongest, however, new Leeds boss Daniel Farke has experience of winning this division while Russell Martin looks set to bring an exciting brand of football to the Saints. The most likely challenger to those three sides could well be Middlesbrough who have made great progress under Michael Carrick.
Norwich, Watford, Millwall, Bristol City and Sunderland will all hope to push for a playoff place, or better if the four favourites are to slip up. Swansea could also be set for a promotion push and could be boosted with the loan signing of Harrison Ashby from Newcastle.
Relegation battle could involve some big names
Some of English football’s famous names will be fighting to avoid the drop to League 1. Most bookies feel that Plymouth Argyle, Rotherham United and Huddersfield Town will be in the mix for relegation with QPR, Cardiff City and Birmingham City also predicted to be among the strugglers. Preston could struggle if they fail to address their lack of fire power which hampered them last season. Newly promoted Sheffield Wednesday could be dragged into relegation scrap after a summer of many changes.
The regular season is scheduled to conclude on May 4, with the playoffs set to conclude with a Wembley final on May 26.