2019/20 Championship preview – Leeds favourites to get promotedPublished on: July 29, 2019Author: Sam F
This weekend sees the return of Championship football with Leeds United, Fulham and Cardiff City amongst the front-runners to get promoted to the Premier League next season. But with many other teams like West Brom, Brentford, Stoke and Derby also looking good, it’s clear that anything could happen in the Championship this season.
Last season saw Norwich City, Aston Villa and Sheffield United promoted to top-flight football. The 2019/20 season will feature seeing newly promoted teams like Luton Town, Barnsley and Charlton Athletic in Championship action, whilst relegated sides such as Cardiff City, Fulham and Huddersfield Town will be fighting hard to regain their place in the Premier League.
All of which means that the 2019/20 Championship will be wide open. With only two automatic promotion places up for grabs, and three teams getting relegated to EFL League One, it’s going to be ten months up hugely unpredictable football action. So who has the best chance of triumphing in the Championship in 2019/20?
Leeds United – Now or never for Marcelo Bielsa’s side
Leeds should really be playing Premier League football this season. But after their play-off semi-final defeat by Derby in May, they have managed to keep Marcelo Bielsa as head coach and have made some important signings to help them gain automatic promotion.
New players in the Leeds ranks include Ben White from Brighton, Helder Costa from Wolves, and Jack Harrison from Manchester City. All of these players are on loan deals, as is Jack Clarke who was signed by Tottenham but will be hugely important on the wing once more.
Although Leeds will be missing Pontus Jansson in defence, Pablo Hernandez can be depended on to be rock solid in the midfield. All of which means that 2020 should be the year that Leeds finally make their way back up to top flight football.
Fulham – Should bounce back up to the Premier League
Getting relegated from the Premier League will have been a huge blow for Fulham, but they are looking well-placed go straight back up. Fulham fans will be delighted with the fact that Scott Parker has been appointed as the permanent manager and their goal-scoring machine Aleksander Mitrovic has just signed a new deal with the London club.
Much of Fulham’s fortunes will rest on whether they can fend off Tottenham poaching Ryan Sessegnon. But the arrival of Anthony Knockaert on a loan deal from Brighton should be able to give Scott Parker’s team a significant boost. Plus with Ivan Cavaleiro joining the club on loan from Wolves, it would be very surprising if Fulham weren’t in the top six come May.
Cardiff City – Plenty of Championship experience
Many of Cardiff’s team were in the side when they won promotion to the Premier League last time around, and their experience will be called upon as Neil Warnock aims to get the Bluebirds back to their best.
Alongside Warnock deciding to stay for another season, Cardiff have also made a couple of shrewd signings. In particular it’s the arrival of the towering centre-back Aden Flint from Middlesborough who could help keep things tight at the back, whilst new signing Will Vaulks could be a secret weapon in the midfield. And with the experience of Junior Hoilett on the wing, it seems as though Cardiff are once again going to be very difficult to beat.
West Bromwich Albion – Another strong challenge from the Baggies
West Brom had a very strange Championship campaign last season. Despite being fourth in the table, Darren Moore was sacked in March, and they went on to lose their play-off semi-final to Aston Villa.
But with the former West Ham boss, Salven Bilic, coming into manage the team, it’s hoped that things are a little more straightforward for the Baggies this season. The loss of Salomon Rondon to Dalian Yifang will be a big blow, but there will be plenty of new faces in the West Brom side to make up for his absence.
In particular, it’s the arrival of Kenneth Zohore from Cardiff that could be most interesting. The Danish striker had a difficult time last season, but he should be able to score plenty of goals at the Championship level. Plus with new team-mates like Romaine Sawyers, it’s going to be fascinating to see where this unpredictable side go from here.
Brentford – Best chance for the Premier League yet
Brentford have never played Premier League football, but the Bees are looking like they might be in with a chance this year. We’ve already noted how they made the wise purchase of Pontus Jansson from Leeds to solidify their defence, but there are some other signings that could help Brentford’s Premier League aspirations.
These include the Danish midfielder, Mathias Jensen, from Celta Vigo, as well as Christian Norgaard from Fiorentina. But Thomas Frank will be relying on the formidable attacking partnership of Neal Maupay and Said Benrahma up front, and it’s easy to see why Brentford should be in with a decent chance of getting a top-six finish this year.
Stoke City – Nathan Jones could provide a turnaround
Stoke had yet another rotten season and their 16th place in the Championship could have been much worse. But hopes are high that new coach, Nathan Jones, can provide the spark necessary to lift the doldrums.
Sam Vokes will be expected to be in goalscoring form for Stoke once more, but there’s a new-look squad who should be able to add plenty of firepower. Alongside Liam Lindsay from Barnsley, it’s Tommy Smith from Huddersfield who should be able to add stability to the notoriously leaky Stoke defence.
Derby County – Can the Rams triumph without Lampard?
Thanks to Chelsea’s not unsurprising poaching of Frank Lampard as head coach, Derby County face a tricky task in their Championship campaign. Thankfully they have enlisted Phillip Cocu as their new manager, and Cocu’s experience of being assistant manager at PSV Eindhoven is expected to help rebuild the Rams.
Young stars like Jayden Bogle are expected to be pivotal in Derby’s Premier League hopes, and they will be desperate to do one better than their play-off defeat against Aston Villa last May. But with barely any new signings, it’s going to be tricky to see how well the Rams can do in the Championship this year.
How will the other new arrivals fare in the 2019/20 Championship?
Huddersfield Town sank without a trace in the Premier League last season. The team have kept on Jan Siewert as head coach, and with quality players like Karlan Grant and Aaron Mooy in their ranks, there’s reason to hope for a play-off spot.
As League One champions, Luton Town will be fancying their chances in the Championship this season. All eyes will be watching to see if James Collins can repeat his goalscoring feats in the higher leagues, but consolidation is key for this promising Luton side.
Barnsley are one of the favourites to get relegated and whilst Kieffer Moore was on great form last season, it’s going to be hard to see the towering striker getting quite as many goals in the Championship. Charlton Athletic are the other new arrivals from League One, and their losses of key players such as Joe Aribo and Patrick Bauer will severely dent their chances of staying in the Championship this season.
Other key developments in the 2019/20 Championship
The loss of Lloyd Kelly to Bournemouth will be a massive blow to Bristol City’s promotion aspirations, but they have found themselves with a bargain in landing Jay Dasilva for just £2 million. Sheffield Wednesday could have been a good bet for promotion, but with Steve Bruce leaving for Newcastle, it’s going to be twice as hard for this club that’s already been suffering numerous financial difficulties.
Jonathon Woodgate will be the new manager at Middlesborough, and it will be interesting to see how he handles a team who are clearly in something of a transition period. Similarly, Nottingham Forest have a new head coach in the form of Sabri Lamouchi, but it’s difficult to see both teams getting anything much better than a mid-table position.
Blackburn Rovers could easily be this season’s dark horses in the Championship. Thanks to the skills of talented players like Bradley Dack, alongside arrivals such as Southampton’s Sam Gallagher, there’s a every chance that Tony Mowbray’s team could get a top-half finish or even make the play-offs in 2020. Similarly, Hull City will be hoping that promising players like Jarrod Bowen will help them achieve more than mid-table mediocrity.
Swansea will be in trouble now that Daniel James has gone to Manchester United, and whilst Preston have Billy Bodin back in their ranks, it’s hard to imagine either side impressing too much this season. Similarly, Reading have let a lot of players go and whilst they could pick up the occasional decent result, they will lack the quality to threaten bigger teams.
QPR had a rough 2018/19 campaign, and with the loss of the likes of Luke Freeman, it’s going to be another difficult season for this London side. Similarly, whilst there are a few new faces in the Millwall team, it’s easy to imagine them locked in another relegation battle this season.
Wigan were lucky to avoid the drop last season, and they are going to need a miracle to end up in the top half this year. Unless Birmingham City can seriously change their fortunes, they could easily end up in the relegation zone. The club were deducted nine points for financial issues at the end of last season, and with experienced stars like Che Adams leaving the side, Birmingham City will be facing a fight for Championship survival this season.