The Championship returned to our screens this weekend, with proceedings getting underway as Sunderland played out a 1-1 draw with Derby County and Nottingham Forest edged out Millwall 1-0.
As most sides return to action today, we take a look at the teams we believe will be competing for a place in the Premier League next season.
Buoyed by the recent arrival of Chelsea legend John Terry – and the prospect of Steve Bruce’s first-full season at the helm, Villa will be looking to return to where they believe they belong, come the end of this campaign. A squad packed with players full of previous Premier League experience, and with new signings that strengthen the side in all areas, we reckon they’ll be there or thereabouts when it comes to who lifts the Championship title. Expect to see Jonathan Kodjia’s name on the scoresheet quite often.
A disappointing return to the Premier League saw Boro drop straight back down. With Garry Monk now spearheading the challenge, Boro look to be a team with fresh enthusiasm ahead of a tough campaign. The signings of Britt Assombalonga and Martin Braithwaite show signs of real attacking intent – and keeping players like Ben Gibson, Adama Traore and Marten De Roon leave the spine of a team more than capable of mounting a stern challenge for the Championship crown.
Losing Marco Silva is a massive blow to Hull – who were unlucky to see themselves relegated last season. Leonid Slutsky’s men have a chance of promotion this season, especially given the fact they’ve held on to their star players – Kamil Grosicki, Sam Clucas and Abel Hernandez. A team who always provide the opposition with a spirited fight, they should experience some joy this campaign – in the hope of a quick-fire return to England’s top tier.
Once a mainstay of the Premier League – fans would be delighted to see the return of Fulham to the top-flight. They’ve done well to hold onto teenage sensation Ryan Sessegnon – but with a relatively small squad, the Cottagers could perhaps do with some reinforcements before the close of the window. An entertaining team to watch, don’t be surprised if you see Fulham up top in a couple of months time – as they guarantee goals.
Sunderland’s great escape didn’t quite happen last year. They’ve lost their star man in Jermain Defoe – but with Simon Grayson coming in, the Black Cats will have fresh hope of a new chapter in the club’s history. Players like Aiden McGeady and Jeremain Lens should be more than capable of terrorising Championship defences – and the arrival of Everton youngsters Tylas Browning and Matthew Galloway should steady the ship at the back. If attitudes don’t improve at the Stadium of Light, however, then maybe Darren Gibson’s tirade can be forgiven after all.
Jordan Norris, Pundit Arena