The Championship looks to be as competitive as ever this year, the division containing 10 teams who have been in the Premier League in the past five years. Where should we look for ante-post value http://www.betpal.com/ext/?id=140?

Recommendations

Norwich City to win 10-1 (each way 1/4 1,2,3) William Hill

Wigan Athletic to win 10-1 (each way 1/4 1,2,3) Ladbrokes

Watford promotion 11/2 William Hill

Birmingham City relegation 4/1 BetVictor

Gary Hooper Top division goalscorer 20-1 (each way 1/4 1,2,3,4) William Hill

The ante-post book prices the division up at 8-1 the favourite, Cardiff City and no less than 12 teams at 20-1 or less. Tis is a measure of how competitive the division looks with a host of well funded teams, many with parachute payments still active having recently being relegated from the Premier League. We also have Wolves back in the division, Brentford up and financially backed and teams like Bolton, Leeds and Ipswich outside the top half of the betting. Easy it is not!

My thoughts are as follows:

Of the three relegated teams I like Norwich City best at the prices. Cardiff City at 8-1 have lost Campbell and Caulker and further instability does not seem too far away. The price doesn’t represent a lot of value. Fulham at 10-1 with the addition of Ross McCormack’s goals are more interesting but rely on a very highly rated youth policy now that a number of senior players are departing. No doubt this will pay off but in a rough tough league in the first season back, not yet. Norwich at 10-1 have lost Snodgrass but the rest of the team that went down is intact. They are on my shortlist, and would be so ahead of Derby County who are shorter than them

Elsewhere my two against the field are Wigan Athletic at 10-1 and Watford at 16-1. Wigan under Uwe Rosler had a superb run into the play-offs last season and should go well again. Watford, with an influx of proven Campionship players such as the return of Matej Vydra and the continued presence of players from Udinese and Granada under the co-ownership agreement should rebound to the top end of the table after last year’s inconsistencies.

I like both Norwich City and Wigan Athletic at 10-1 each way, requiring a top three finish.

Watford can be backed for promotion at 11/2 with William Hill which gives us the backstop of the play-off places, down to 6th in the table, to have an end of season interest

In terms of relegation markets the news has been dominated by the travails at Blackpool which has seen them backed into an unprecedented 8/11 for relegation. As an alternative, look at Birmingham City who, with their own financial problems, go into the division with a very young squad and are 4-1 to go down with BetVictor

 In terms of top goalscorer its no surprise to see the likes of McCormack, Jordan Rhodes  and Vydra at the top of the market. For each way value though, like the look of Gary Hooper of Norwich City at 20-1 (each way 1/4 1,2,3,4) with William Hill.

Hooper was a prolific scorer at Scunthorpe and Celtic. The last time he was in the Championship he scored 20 in 39 for a relegated side in 2009-10, which secured his move to Celtic. He joined Norwich last season, and was immediately injured and once in the side for good scored 6 in the top flight in a struggling side. He will be on penalties this season. With Hooper’s record at this level I would expect 15+ goals as a minimum assuming fitness. Last year needed 18+ to secure a top 4 goalscorer finish. I would expect his side to be top six, which obviously would help

Recommendations

Norwich City to win 10-1 (each way 1/4 1,2,3) William Hill

Wigan Athletic to win 10-1 (each way 1/4 1,2,3) Ladbrokes

Watford promotion 11/2 William Hill

Birmingham City relegation 4/1 BetVictor

Gary Hooper Top division goalscorer 20-1 (each way 1/4 1,2,3,4) William Hill