Brighton begin their 2014/15 Championship campaign with the visit of Sheffield Wednesday to the Amex on Saturday and manager Sami Hyypia will be hoping for all three points from the visit of the Owls in his first competitive game in charge of the Club.
The Seagulls are a shade of odds on at 9/10 with BetVictor to make a winning start with the visitors 16/5 and the draw 5/2. Albion’s pre-season has been mixed with losses to Peterborough and Southampton of late but the action starts in earnest this weekend with the Club looking to finally make that breakthrough into the Premier League.
Former Barnsley striker Chris O’Grady looks sure to make his debut on Saturday for Albion and the striker is the 7/2 market leader to open the scoring against his former Club and 6/4 to find the net at any time during the 90 minutes.
Scottish international Craig Mackail-Smith has had a wretched couple of years now with injury but has been amongst the goals in pre-season and is 13/8 to finish the season as the Club’s leading scorer in the Championship. With those nagging injury concerns O’Grady might be the value at 7/4 and we also bet 12/1 Shamir Fenelon, David Rodriquez, Kazenga Lua Lua and 14/1 Will Buckley.
The betting for the Championship suggests a wide open affair with no stand-out side despite the parachute payments made to last season’s relegated trio Cardiff, Norwich and Fulham. Last year’s beaten play-off finalists, and conquerors of Albion, Derby County are the 7/1 joint favs with Cardiff at BetVictor with Fulham and Norwich 9s, Wigan and Boro 10s and 12/1 Bar.
The Seagulls are 20/1 for the Title, 3/1 to again finish in the top six, and therefore be guaranteed the minimum of a play-off spot, and 7/1 to be promoted. If they can keep Mackail-Smith healthy and amongst the goals they must have every chance of a top six finish although the play-off route looks their most likely way to the Promised Land that is the EPL.
Not everyone is convinced, however, that Albion are promotion material and our traders price up Hyypia’s side at 5/6 to finish the campaign in the top half of the division and the same price 5/6 the bottom half. One bet I would be disappointed if it wasn’t successful is the 5/6 for Albion to finish the season higher than Nottingham Forest. Whilst Stuart Pearce was an excellent full back he has failed to deliver as a coach and I would be surprised if Albion didn’t have a better season than Forest who imploded towards the end of the 13/14 campaign.
The Championship Handicap is always a popular market and this term Cardiff are the only side on scratch with Albion (18/1) receiving a 14 point start over the Bluebirds. The market asks what side will overachieve this term and Brentford (+24) and Bournemouth (+18) have been the best backed Clubs so far in what looks a very tight division.
The new season is almost upon us and we were delighted earlier in the week to receive the accolade from leading independent odds comparison site Oddschecker that BetVictor were the bookmaker offering best odds most often in the match prices on the five major competitions (Prem League, Championship, FA Cup, Champions League & Europa League) last season.
It’s going to be a long old winter; can Albion finally reach the Premier League? Good luck to Sami Hyypia and all at the Amex for the forthcoming season.