EFL Championship Preview: Race for the Premier League is back for 2022-23
While the Premier League still has a week to go to restart for the 2022-23 season, England’s second tier of football is all set to go!
The Championship is one of the richest and most-watched leagues in Europe and features some huge clubs by any country’s standards. 24 teams will battle it out for just three spots in the big time come the end of the season.
So, with that in mind, what do we think the EFL Championship will provide us with this campaign?
With two automatic promotion spots and another four play-off places, the race to be promoted to the Premier League is wide open. However, two of the favourites for promotion are definitely Norwich City and Watford.
Both were relegated from the Premier League last season, but the pair are two yo-yo clubs. The last time the Hornets were in the Championship and weren’t promoted was back in 2014. Meanwhile, the Canaries have either been promoted or relegated in all of the last four seasons.
Both Norwich and Watford are our picks to be promoted automatically. This is especially the case when you realise the pair have suffered minimal losses on the player front too.
Those that could surprise us
The play-offs are often described as a lottery, and getting in them is often down to a slice of good luck as well as skill. Four places are up for grabs, but who will fill them?
Alongside Nottingham Forest, Sheffield United were one of the form teams in the second half of last season. The Blades have kept hold of their best players from last season, while adding the likes of Ciaran Clark, Reda Khadra and Tommy Doyle to their ranks.
Ironically though, ex-Blades boss Chris Wilder could stop his former side, as Middlesbrough are also one of the favourites. The Riversiders just missed out on play-offs last season, but have strengthened considerably in the off-season.
Elsewhere, Burnley can’t be ruled out, but how they will perform post-Sean Dyche is up in the air. However, Vincent Kompany could prove to be a surprise success at Turf Moor during his first season managing in England.
Luton Town would be another brave bet for a play-off place. The Hatters have made a habit of punching above their weight and only narrowly lost out to Huddersfield in the semi-finals in 2021-22.
West Bromwich Albion had a dismal campaign last season and we see more of the same for the Baggies in this campaign.
The likes of Millwall, Swansea City, Coventry City, Stoke City and Blackburn Rovers could challenge the top six, but all seem to lack enough quality for a prolonged play-off challenge.
Sunderland are back in the Championship and have a lot of momentum behind them. With the biggest fanbase outside the Premier League, they could well upset the order and challenge for play-offs this season.
Teams heading down
After points deductions off the pitch and terrible performances on it, Reading’s time in the second tier will be over after this season. The Royals have spent nothing on transfers in the off-season and will be lucky to avoid another points drop through the campaign.
Birmingham City are another that have been subject to turmoil on and off the pitch and are destined for League 1 football. No money has been invested in the squad and the fans will continue to protest against the owners.
Hull City seemed to picked up momentum and Bristol City just about have enough to hang on in our opinions.
The final relegation spot is between Rotherham United and Blackpool. We’ll say that the Millers will finally survive this season, as they’ve been the ultimate yo-yo club between the second and third tiers for years now.