Championship preview: Can Leeds United maintain their Premier League push?
The latest odds ahead of the return of the English second-flight
We’ve seen the return of the Bundesliga, La Liga and the Premier League over recent weeks, but now it’s the turn of the Championship to mark its return to action.
After a three-month break, the second flight of English football returns with a full fixture list. Leeds United lead the league, with West Bromwich Albion a point behind with nine games remaining.
The Baggies could pile the pressure onto Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United side with a win in the West Midlands derby against Birmingham City, with the Whites not in action until Sunday.
Elsewhere, the race for the play-offs is heating up, with as many as 11 teams still in the hunt for those four places. The battle to avoid the drop continues too with only three points separating Stoke City in 17th from Charlton Athletic in 22nd.
Before the action gets back underway, we preview the biggest games of the weekend.
Fulham v Brentford (Saturday, 12:30)
Could we ask for a better reintroduction to the Championship than third place Fulham taking on Brentford in fourth?
The Bees start as the pre-match favourites at 31/20, hoping to close the four-point gap to Fulham. The Cottagers had only lost one in their previous 11 matches before the break but come in as 9/5 underdogs.
Brentford won the reverse fixture 1-0, and they’re 15/2 to repeat that here. Fancy Fulham to get a fourth draw in eight? That’s priced at 9/4.
Aleksandar Mitrovic leads the league with 23 goals, and he’s the 7/2 favourite to score first, or 7/5 anytime. For the Bees, Ollie Watkins is only one goal behind Mitrovic, and is 4/1 to score first here. You can find 13/8 on him scoring anytime.
West Bromwich Albion v Birmingham City (Saturday, 15:00)
There’s the small matter of another West Midlands derby at the Hawthorns from 15:00, with the last meeting between these two a five-goal end-to-end encounter.
West Brom’s form dipped just before the break, surrendering top spot to Leeds, but Slaven Bilić’s side still head into this one as the odds-on 2/3 favourites.
The Blues will hope to throw a spanner in the works and derail the Baggies charge towards the top-flight. They’re 15/2 to claim all three points.
Charlie Austin notched a late double to claim the points at St. Andrews. He’s 11/8 to score anytime, or if you fancy him to repeat his brace, two or more goals comes in at 7/1.
On the blue side, it’s Scott Hogan who’s leading the way to score first at 6/1. Elsewhere, Lukas Jutkiewicz is 12/5 anytime.
Hull City v Charlton Athletic (Saturday, 15:00)
It’s a huge clash at the wrong end of the table, as 21st take on 22nd. A last-gasp own goal secured a point for Hull City in the reverse fixture.
The Tigers are the pre-match favourites at 5/4, with Lee Bowyer’s Charlton 11/5 to leave East Yorkshire with all three points.
The pair drew 2-2 in December, and you can find 12/1 on a repeat score line. Fancy a draw of any score? That’s 12/5.
Former Addicks striker Josh Magennis is a 9/2 favourite to score first, alongside Tom Eaves. They’re both 7/4 anytime too. For Charlton, it’s Macauley Bonne who’s the 5/1 favourite to score first.
Cardiff City v Leeds United (Sunday, 12:00)
Should the Baggies win their match, the pressure could be on Bielsa’s men coming into this one to retain top spot in the Championship.
Leeds are favourites at 2/3, but Cardiff City are only 4/1 to cause a surprise. They’ve not tasted defeat against the Whites since 2016, and with an outside chance of a play-off spot, they’ll be hoping to take the scalp of Leeds.
The Bluebirds came from three goals down to secure a point at Elland Road earlier this season, and the draw’s 15/4 in this one.
Callum Paterson and Danny Ward are the 15/2 favourites to open the scoring for Neil Harris’ side, with Lee Tomlin a 10/3 anytime scorer.
Patrick Bamford is favourite to net for Leeds, found at 23/20 anytime or 16/5 to open the scoring.
All odds and markets are correct as of date of publication.