A new Championship season starts this weekend and Sunday takes us up to the Stadium of Light.
Full Of Hope
After falling short in the play-offs, Tony Mowbray will now look to lead his Sunderland side to automatic promotion.
One Step Further
The bid to earn promotion out of the EFL Championship can only be described as a war of attrition. 46 regular season matches and maybe three more in the play-offs. Its brutality is matched by the drama it creates and the first set of skirmishes begin this weekend.
Sunday sees Sunderland and Ipswich paired together by the fixture computer and in theory this should be a rather easy start for the Black Cats, as they go up against the team that finished second in last season’s League One.
However, Ipswich are not looking to simply make up the list of 24 Championship entrants and with odds of just 5/1 to be promoted to the Premier League, Kieran McKenna’s men have already surpassed the mantle of dark horses.
To be priced that short as a promoted side is a real show of faith by those who set the odds and now Ipswich will look to repay that and then some. The Tractor Boys earned 98 points in last season’s third tier and the target will be anything north of 69 this time around.
Coincidentally that was the number of points that Sunderland earned, as they secured a top six Championship finish on the final day of the 2022/23 campaign. A 3-0 win over Preston would subsequently unlock the play-offs.
Here they would be paired with Luton in a bid to reach Wembley. Tony Mowbray’s side earned a 2-1 home win in the first leg. Unfortunately for them the Hatters would be mad at Kenilworth Road and earn a 2-0 victory on home soil.
Dumped out at the penultimate hurdle but something that has only lit a fire within the Sunderland camp. They are currently 13/2 to earn promotion via either a top two finish or the lottery of the play-offs but reputable sources are tipping them for more.
Unsurprisingly the three relegated teams are the favourites to go straight back up. However, the Championship has a habit of not following such logic and it only needs one poor showing to open the door for the likes of Sunderland and Ipswich.
Which is why both outfits will be keen to get off to the perfect start on Sunday. This opening weekend clash is not going dictate what happens in the promotion race, but it will certainly give an inkling as to what may unfold.
But now it is time for the first of my two tips and the focus shines on Ipswich’s Conor Chaplin. The 26-year-old scored 26 goals in last season’s League One and I am backing him to make the step up on Sunday. An anytime goal from him is what I am after, and this is priced at 3/1.
In addition to this, I am also serving up an Ipswich win. If the Portman Road outfit are 5/1 to earn promotion, they are going to have to land some scalps along the way. There is no better place to start then Sunday and this means the 2-1 away win at 10/1 is also on the betting slip.