The Skybet Championship is well underway with most teams having played four fixtures already. There’s not much to be drawn from the fledgling league table, which hasn’t really taken shape yet, and there are still plenty of long-term betting markets to get stuck into. One such market that has taken the attention this week is the betting for a top six finish – and ultimately a place in the play-offs at least.
The Championship is one of the most competitive leagues in the world, and there are probably still 24 sets of fans dreaming of taking the step up to the Premier League. Of course, there are some clubs which are much better equipped to challenge at the business end, and a top six bet allows our chosen teams a little bit of leeway if they fall short of making the top two. Both Brentford and QPR stand out at good prices to reach the top half-dozen, and both are worth backing to make it a successful campaign.
Top Six Betting
There are several sides in with a shout of the top six, and here are the teams at the head of the betting right now:
Middlesbrough – -175 with Bet365
Middlesbrough have recruited well in the summer and have made a reasonable start to the season. They beat Bolton 3-0 at home in their only win so far, but have only managed a single goal in two draws with Preston and Derby, and a 1-0 home defeat to Bristol City. That latest result was a bit of a shock, but ‘Boro are still 8th in the table with 5 points, only 5 points behind leaders Ipswich.
We tipped the North East club for promotion earlier in the season, as well as backing new striker Stuani to finish top scorer. He’s bagged a couple of goals so far, and Middlesbrough still look good for a promotion challenge. They are fairly short to finish in the top six though, and while they can be expected to make their presence felt, they’re passed over in favour of better odds.
Hull – -125 with Bet365
Hull are another side who have made a decent enough start, who have Premier League experience throughout the squad and who can be expected to be in and around the top six. They sit 5th at the moment with 7 points after wins against Fulham and Huddersfield and a draw against Wolves. They were turned over away at Charlton at the weekend though, which is further proof that anyone can beat anyone in this division.
Steve Bruce is an experienced manager though who has led teams out of the Championship before, and he will know exactly what’s required to get out of the second tier. Hull will be too strong for many teams in the Championship, and they are tempting in this market, despite being a shade of odds-on.
Derby – +110 with Bet365
Big things were expected of Derby this season after last season’s inexplicable fall from grace. They were far and away the best side in the division for the early part of last season, and at one point threatened to run away with it. The constant rumours linking boss Steve McClaren with a move to Newcastle must have taken their toll in the second half of the season though, as Derby dropped like a stone to eventually finish outside the play-offs.
McClaren was replaced by Paul Clement – who has gained huge experience as an assistant at Chelsea and Real Madrid – and he’s made a fair start to life in the Championship so far. County remain unbeaten, but they have drawn all four of their games, which has left them in 16th position with just 4 points. Clement could well be a great manager in time, but there is an element of risk in backing Derby as things could easily go the other way too.
Ipswich – +110 with Bet365
Ipswich haven’t let the disappointment of losing in the play-offs affect their start to this season, and they’ve won three from four to sit top of the table with 10 points. The victories came against Sheffield Wednesday, Preston and Burnley, while the draw was in their opening game with Brentford. Mick McCarthy is another experienced manager, but they only have a small squad and that may catch up with them later in the season.
Brentford – +175 with Bet365
Brentford are a side that are strongly fancied to earn promotion, and they are good value in this market to finish in the top six. They’ve only played three games so far, and have an outstanding fixture against Birmingham to conclude, but they’ve already started fairly well. They opened with a 2-2 draw with Ipswich and followed it up with a 4-2 win at newly-promoted Bristol City. They went down 1-0 away at Burnley in their most recent game, but not many teams will take anything away from Turf Moor this season, so there’s no disgrace in that result.
Brentford were earmarked as an outsider for the title by one of our tipsters, and they are worth backing in this market too at a very generous price.
QPR – +188 with Skybet
Finally we backed QPR to come good at the weekend, and they didn’t let us down with a comfortable 4-2 victory over Rotherham, with Charlie Austin and Tjaronn Chery scoring two goals each. They’re currently 6th in the table, and although Austin is expected to leave before the close of the transfer window, they still have plenty of quality in the context of this division.
Their season started with a poor display against Charlton where they lost 2-0, but they started to turn things around with a 2-2 home draw with Cardiff. The next two games resulted in wins with a 3-2 victory at Wolves, and Saturday’s epic against Rotherham. It looks like being an eventful season for R’s fans if those two games are anything to go by, and they could see plenty of high-scoring games along the way. They stand out at a big price for a top six place, considering they currently sit in 6th position and have already found a winning thread.
Brentford to finish in the top six
QPR to finish in the top six
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