Championship 2021/22 preview: Picking out the best bets for QPR, Swansea and Bristol City

They're not going to win the title, but there is still value to be had when backing the Championship trio, according to tipster Andy Schooler.

QPR have spent longer than they'd have liked in the Championship but this season could be their springboard back to the Premier League.

They finished ninth last term but really picked up in the second half of the campaign - across the last 23 games they were the fourth-best side, this after they won just five of their opening 23.

That improvement was achieved with a number of key loan signings and many of those have now become permanent deals, which bodes well for the months ahead.

Best bet

Charlie Austin, a proven goalscorer at this level, notched eight goals after joining in January and helped Lyndon Dykes (12 league goals in total) rediscover his form. They could forge a strong partnership.

In midfield, Stefan Johansen and Sam Field have both signed permanently, albeit the latter will miss the start of the season due to a knee injury.

Further back, Jimmy Dunne looks an interesting signing. The centre-back played in the Premier League for Burnley last season and at only 23 has the potential to really shine in the Championship.

Pre-season has gone well and included a 4-2 win over a Manchester United XI, suggesting the momentum gained earlier in 2021 can be maintained.

Basically, there's a lot to like about Mark Warburton's side and the best market to back them in looks to be the 'top-six finish' one.

Here they are on offer at around 7/2 and that looks more than fair.

Best bet

The other side I like the look of in terms of potential is Bristol City.

Yes, they did finish 19th last season but hear me out.

First up, they have a highly-experienced and respected manager in charge in Nigel Pearson. He replaced Dean Holden in the second half of last season when the Robins were already destined not to go up or down.

Motivation must have been difficult but that's no longer the case.

Another point in their defence is that injuries hit hard.

Joe Williams and Andi Weimann were key men who missed much of the campaign and there's little doubt their presence will improve the Robins this term.

There's also undoubtedly quality in other areas with Hungarian midfielder Adam Nagy having emerged from Euro 2020 with his reputation enhanced.

That was also the case with Tomas Kalas, who caught the eye in the Czech Republic defence.

Rob Atkinson from Oxford looks a good signing in that area too, while if Alfie Mawson can stay fit he's a player with more to offer his current employers.

Pearson has also turned to some of his old Leicester boys in search of improvement - midfielders Matty James and Andy King know how to get out of this division, while full-back Danny Simpson is also on board.

With some highly-rated youngsters also at Pearson's disposal - think Antoine Semenyo and teenager Tommy Conway - much more should be expected for the Robins in 2021/22.

Launching a promotion bid is probably asking too much but in the region of 13/8 about a top-half finish appeals.

For all their problems, they only finished 11 points off that last term when they managed to win only one of their last 10 games.

Best bet

There are few surprises in the way the Championship relegation market has been priced up and, to be honest, there's not a great deal which makes appeal.

However, for those seeking a big price, you could do worse than the 12/1 about Swansea.

That seems a strange thing to say about a side which was 90 minutes from the Premier League in May but it's been a shambolic summer for the Swans and, at time of writing, they remain without a manager only a week away from the start of the season.

The spine is being ripped out of the side which has lost in back-to-back play-off finals.

Keeper Freddie Woodman is back at parent club Newcastle (and won't be coming back), while top scorer Andre Ayew has moved to the Middle East.

In midfield, captain Matt Grimes is wanted by Fulham and looks likely to depart before the transfer window closes.

With fans critical of a lack of investment from their American owners, who have never gone down well in south Wales, the situation has the potential to spiral downwards. If a bad start is made - and the haphazard pre-season suggests that's more than possible - it could be messy on and off the pitch at the Liberty Stadium.

For all last season's success, it's worth mentioning that the underlying data suggests the Swans over-performed.

The expected goals table gave them 19 points fewer than they actually managed and put them down in 13th position.

That's the bottom half of the table which is a nod to what is probably the better bet surrounding Swansea.

They are around 6/4 to finish in the bottom 12 which looks worth snapping up - if you're not going to back them for relegation.

READ MORE: Championship 2021/22 preview: Baggies have enough talent to bounce back at the first attempt