WITH ANOTHER EFL Championship season now well and truly underway, it’s already shaping up to be another tightly contested season. Ten games in and many of the 24 teams have already shown glimpses of their potential, most of which have high hopes of making a playoff run when the season draws to a close in May.
Of course, there are a few big names in the mix that you’d expect to be there or thereabouts. The likes of Swansea, Leeds, West Brom and Fulham have all started strongly; yet that leaves the door open for a few other teams to exceed expectations and secure an unexpected playoff berth.
Let’s take a look at three dark horses who might be able to do just that.
Having caught the eye with their progressive style and an eighth-place finish last year, Lee Johnson’s Bristol City team will no doubt believe that they can build on that foundation and make a strong run at the playoffs this season.
In fact, since their opening day 3-1 defeat to Leeds on August 4, the Robins have gone undefeated in 10 games, winning four and drawing five. That includes impressive away victories at Derby County and Hull City. If they can maintain their current form then we see no reason why they won’t find themselves in the mix come May. They are currently sixth favourites at 6/4 to finish in the top six in the latest Championship betting news and predictions at bet365.
After losing the experience of manager Steve Bruce following an attractive job offer from Premier League outfit Newcastle United, most Wednesday fans would’ve been understandably worried about how that loss would affect their playoff chances this season. Yet Wednesday have been fairly quick to steady the ship, bringing in former Birmingham boss Garry Monk to get the Owls back on track.
It’s been a mixed bag of results so far for Monk, yet we shouldn’t forget that it’s still very early days in a longer-term project. Even so, with the goal-scoring threat of Steven Fletcher in their ranks, Wednesday can call on more firepower than most other mid-table sides, something that will undoubtedly make a difference when it comes to contending for a playoff place.
Having gained promotion through the League One playoffs last year, nobody would’ve given Charlton Athletic much hope of doing better than surviving the drop this year. Yet the Addicks made an incredibly bright start to the season, going unbeaten in six games and racing into the top half of the table.
A few tough defeats to Birmingham and Swansea have followed, yet in between we also witnessed a very impressive 1-0 victory at home to league favourites Leeds United. Grinding out that type of performance against one of the league’s best sides is likely to do wonders for Charlton’s confidence and could provide the impetus to exceed all expectations this year.
Let’s see how these three teams fare over the course of the season. If their early form is anything to go by then we wouldn’t be surprised to see one or two right in contention for a playoff spot.