Thursday, 4 August 2011

Championship Thoughts and Predictions

Every season this division seems to get stronger. No fewer than 18 of the 24 have competed in the Premier League since its inception in 1992. Quite an impressive figure considering many of the same teams appear to yo-yo between the two. Considering it's the second tier of the English game, the stadia is impressive enough to grace the top flight of any league around the world. The likes of the newly named King Power Stadium, Leicester, Elland Road, Leeds and St Mary's Stadium, Southampton amongst the most eye catching but not forgetting the Riverside, Pride Park, Madejski, KC Stadium, City Ground, The Boleyn or the brand spanking new American Express Stadium!

The Amex Stadium is extremely impressive. It's the much awaited and much needed new home of Brighton & Hove Albion. Having won promotion last season blitzing through some very talented League One opposition in the process you have to look at them as the potential dark horses. A few new players, a very passionate and keen manager in Gus Poyet and a 12th man (namely the fans) should help see them into a top half finish and possibly a play off berth.

Southampton, another newcomer, will be in contention come May. For similar reasons to Brighton. They have a very strong team and a prolific goalscorer in Rickie Lambert. They also ran Manchester United close in the cup last year. And not an understrength United either.

Of the teams that came down from the Prem, both Birmingham and West Ham have enough quality to take the two automatic spots for me. West Ham may have lost a few players and will almost certainly say a fond farewell to the current Footballer of the Year, Scott Parker before the August deadline, but the arrival of Kevin Nolan with numb the pain and help the loss of any goals throughout the team. Birmingham have earnt a fair amount of money from players exiting St Andrews and have bought shrewdly in my opinion with very little money leaving the wallet of the much criticised chairman.

Leicester City will threaten again this campaign. They started coming good under the guidance of Sven Goran Eriksson last season and with the new stadium sponsorship deal together with the arrival of Gelson Fernandes, John Pantsil, Paul Konchesky, Dave Nugent and Michael Johnson on a year long loan from Manchester City, you have to expect them to be a very tough team to beat. A play off spot is almost a guarantee with a real push to challenge the top two expected.

The loss of Charlie Adam will hurt Blackpool and that for me will be the main reason why they wont challenge for a play off place this time out. However, I do expect the likes of Nottingham Forest, Millwall, Leeds United, Cardiff and Reading to be in the tope half and there could be a minimal amount of points seperating a lot of teams come May. Every point will be vital this season for all promotion chasing sides.

Predictions -

Winner - West Ham United
Runners Up - Birmingham City
Play Offs - Leicester City
Play Offs - Reading
Play Offs - Cardiff City
Play Offs - Southampton
Relegation - Doncaster
Relegation - Barnsley
Relegation - Peterborough

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