First Touch

Championship Contenders For The EPL

With West Brom and Leeds looking highly likely to go up automatically this season, the remainder of sides in the top half of the Championship now look set to fight it out for a top-six position.

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The second tier of English football is one of the most competitive divisions in Europe and there are a number of sides who will fancy their chances of securing promotion to the Premier League. However, very few of the contenders can seemingly put together a convincing run of form, and we take a look at which of these faltering outfits is most likely to triumph at Wembley at the end of May.


The Cottagers have a nine-point buffer and only a disastrous run of form would see them miss out on a top-six spot. Scott Parker’s men have won 18 of their 36 matches this season, however many remain unconvinced by the West Londoners.

Their over-reliance on striker Aleksandar Mitrovic is slightly concerning with the clinical Serbian having netted 23 of their first 51 goals. No other Fulham player has found the net on more than seven occasions, whilst just three other players have managed to notch on the road this year.

The former Newcastle forward is the 20/33 favourite with to finish the season as the Championship top goalscorer, and even if Parker’s men don’t secure promotion this year, he is highly unlikely to be playing second-tier football for much longer.


Prior to the beginning of February, Brentford looked set to push the top two all the way, however, the Bees have hit the buffers and head into March having taken just four points from a possible 15.

Thomas Frank’s men had been defensively reliable throughout the first half of the campaign, but mistakes began to creep in at the beginning of 2020, and they’ve failed to record a clean sheet in nine of their last eleven outings.

With striker Ollie Watkins heavily linked with a move to the Premier League, the Danish coach knows that only promotion would prevent many of club’s best young talents from moving elsewhere this summer. The West Londoners are one of the most exciting sides in the division, but they cannot afford too many more slip-ups over the coming months.

Nottingham Forest

Nottingham Forest are extremely well-organised under Sabri Lamouchi, however, the Tricky Trees are wholly unreliable and rarely triumph as odds-on favourites. They have suffered just eight defeats this campaign, with five of those losses coming against sides positioned 15th or below.

They’ve also failed to beat relegation-threatened duo Charlton and Middlesbrough home and away this year and also collapsed against Hull at the City Ground. On the flip side, their counter-attacking style tends to work against better opposition and as of 3rd March 2020, they remain unbeaten away from home against sides in the top half.

Preston North End

The Lilywhites are another incredibly young side who are prone to the occasional blip, however, their excellent home form has helped keep them competitive in the top half of the Championship table. Unfortunately, PNE don’t travel particularly well and they haven’t beaten a side above 15th on the road this season.

If they do reach the promised land, it’s hard to see Alex Neil’s side picking up many points, however the excellent Ben Pearson and lively Daniel Johnson are both superb operators at this level, and they deserve their opportunity in the play-offs.

Bristol City

Purely based on their attacking output, the Robins don’t appear to be good enough to sustain their play-off push. Only Charlton and Luton have registered a lower xG than Bristol City this season, and Lee Johnson’s side has averaged just 3.3 shots on target per game so far.

Despite the best efforts of Niclas Eliasson, the men from the West Country are ineffective in the final third and are highly likely to drift towards mid-table.

Blackburn Rovers

Tony Mowbray has done superbly to guide his unfancied side to the brink of the play-offs. The loss of talisman Bradley Dack was a significant blow, however the goals of Adam Armstrong have helped keep them in contention for a top-six finish this season.

Rovers’ defence is superb, and their home form has been fantastic throughout the campaign. Lewis Travis and Darragh Lenihan are fantastic Championship players, however their squad may be a little on the small side. If they were to gatecrash the play-offs and book their place in the Premier League next season, they would need to recruit heavily in the summer.

None of the current crop look particularly convincing as the struggle for consistency continues,  however, Nottingham Forest’s penchant for the big occasion may just help them triumph in the play-offs this season.

The East Midlanders have issues against unfancied opposition, however, in the Premier League, they would likely start as the underdog in the majority of their fixtures, and that is likely to suit them perfectly.

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