Championship season is around the corner! Here’s an early look at the opening weekend

With the new Championship season just three weeks away, here’s a look ahead to the opening weekend fixtures.

One thing that the Championship season lacked last year was a dramatic battle for the top two automatic promotion places.

Norwich and Watford were largely unchallenged as they cruised towards Premier League promotion.

This season though, could be a lot different. But before we look at the outrights - we'll save that for a future article - it's time to have a look at the early betting markets for the league's opening weekend fixtures.

Bournemouth 19:45 West Brom (Friday, August 6)

Now this is how you kick off a new season!

The Sky Sports cameras will be in action at the Vitality Stadium when Bournemouth host West Brom in a potential thriller.

Both clubs have new managers at the helm following the appointments of Scott Parker and Valerien Ismael.

Ismael turned Barnsley from relegation favourites into a free-scoring machine. If he did that on a low budget, imagine what he can do at The Hawthorns.

Parker, on the other hand, is a proponent of a possession-based style of soccer. This helped him win promotion with Fulham, but it also led to their eventual demise.

Looking at the early markets, the over 2.5 goals bet offers decent value at 20/21. But our tip is to go that one step further and back over 3.5 goals at 5/2 instead.

With regards to the outright odds, Bournemouth are the favourites at 23/20 but West Brom aren't far behind on 19/10.

TIP: Over 3.5 goals at 5/2

Blackburn 15:00 Swansea (Saturday, August 7)

Blackburn may have finished 15th last season but don't be fooled - this side's got goals… at least for now.

When Jordan Rhodes left the club in 2016, it took the Riversiders some time to find a comparable replacement. Adam Armstrong has been a revelation though, bagging 46 goals for the club over the last two seasons.

If the player stays at Ewood Park, he's certainly worth a bet in the anytime goalscorer market.

Looking at the outright market though, it's Swansea who are the team to back. At 19/10 the play-off finalists offer sensational value.

TIP: Swansea to win at 19/10

Bristol City 15:00 Blackpool (Saturday, August 7)

Nigel Pearson took over the reins at Ashton Gate last February and led the club to a 16th place finish.

The manager has been able to shape his squad over the summer and will be looking for a positive start against newly promoted Blackpool.

Bristol are the favourites at even money but Neil Critchley's men aren't far behind at 23/10.

Many names have come and gone at Bloomfield Road over the summer so while the price does look enticing, it may take a while for this side to click.

Bristol have also seen a number departures during the off-season and it's not surprising to see them in the thick of the relegation betting.

With that in mind, it may be worth looking at the draw at 21/10.

TIPDraw at 21/10

Cardiff City 15:00 Barnsley (Saturday, August 7)

Valerien Ismael, gone. Alex Mowatt, gone. Michael Sollbauer, gone.

Barnsley will have to cope with some major departures as they look ahead to the new Championship season.

Their first game certainly won't be easy as they travel to south Wales for a clash with Cardiff. Mick McCarthy's men are the favourites to take all three points having been priced at 6/5.

Considering the huge changes at Oakwell, Barnsley are still well priced at 2/1. Nevertheless, our tip is to back McCarthy's men to keep all three points at the Cardiff City Stadium.

TIP: Cardiff to win at 6/5

Derby County 15:00 Huddersfield Town (Saturday, August 7)

A lot of the focus in these early fixtures is going to be on Derby County.

The Rams managed to avoid relegation by a whisker last season, and this campaign is not expected to be any easier.

Wayne Rooney has not been able to bring any new names to Pride Park although his side has been linked with a number of players.

Huddersfield had an overhaul of talent over the summer but its fair to say that the Terriers could be a dangerous outfit should they resolve their defensive vulnerabilities.

Derby don't offer much value in the betting having been priced at 5/4. Carlos Corberan's side, meanwhile, are priced at 19/10.

Our tip however, is to back the Yorkshire outfit in the 'Draw no bet' market at 23/20.

TIP: Huddersfield Town draw no bet at 23/20

Luton Town 15:00 Peterborough United (Saturday, August 7)

Luton Town enjoyed a solid campaign last year, finishing 12th and staying well clear of trouble.

One issue facing the Hatters though is the loss of James Collins. The player has been Luton's top scorer in each of the previous three seasons and his shoes certainly won't be easy to fill.

With a lack of fire-power in Town's forward line, there's no reason why Peterborough couldn't at least come away with a draw.

The newly promoted side offer great value at 21/10 in the outright market. Plus, lets not forget that they won four of their last five games against Luton.

TIP: Peterborough United draw no bet at 11/8

Preston North End 15:00 Hull City (Saturday, August 7)

Preston have made some promising signings over the summer, mainly with the additions of Chelsea's Izzy Brown and Stoke City's Liam Lindsay.

Manager Frankie McAvoy doesn't have a lot of experience in the number one position. However, his run of wins towards the end of last season, plus his shrewd deals in the transfer window certainly look positive.

Hull City, meanwhile, romped to the League One title last year, only conceding 38 goals in the process. There is one worry though as Grant McCann's side are yet to replace Reece Burke who has moved to Luton Town on a free.

This is a very interesting encounter with Preston priced at 21/20 and Hull available at 11/5 in the outright market.

The bet which stands out to us however, is the 3/4 shot in the both teams to score market. Yes, the price isn't great, but six of the last seven head-to-head games have seen this bet land.

TIP: Both teams to score at 3/4

Queens Park Rangers 15:00 Millwall (Saturday, August 7)

Scott Malone, Benik Afobe, George Saville. To say that Millwall have strengthened would be an understatement.

The same, however, could be said of QPR who have added the likes of Charlie Austin (on a permanent deal), Sam McCallum and Macauley Bonne to their ranks.

Mark Warburton's men are the favourites to win at 23/20 which comes as little surprise considering Millwall haven't won at Loftus Road since 1989.

With that in mind, we're sticking with the hosts in the betting.

TIP: QPR to win at 23/20

Stoke City 15:00 Reading (Saturday, August 7)

A poor run of results towards the end of last season cost Reading a place in the play-offs.

The club have lost a number of players in the transfer market but are yet to strengthen.

This is one of the reasons why the London outfit have been priced at 2/1 ahead of their Championship opener against Stoke.

Speaking of the Potters, Michael O'Neill's side has seen multiple players go through the revolving door.

Five of the last six games between these two clubs have ended in draws. Looking at the business that both teams have done in the transfer market, another draw could be on the cards.

TIP: Draw at 19/10

Sheffield United 20:00 Birmingham City (Saturday, August 7)

After a torrid season in the Premier League, Sheffield United are back in more familiar territory.

For new manager, Slavisa Jokanovic, the Championship is also like tested water.

The 52-year-old led Watford and Fulham to Premier League promotion back in 2015 and 2018. Question is, can he make it a hat-trick?

One thing we know for sure is that the Blades are overwhelming favourites to beat Birmingham at 4/6. City, on the other hand, are available at 10/3.

Sheffield haven't beat the Blues in five attempts but all signs point to that run ending in Saturday's main event.

TIP: Half Time/Full Time Draw/Sheffield United at 10/3

Fulham 13:30 Middlesbrough (Sunday, August 8)

Marco Silva is back in management as he looks to get Fulham back into the big time.

Apart from a short, impressive spell at Hull City, the 44-year-old is yet to take England by storm. For all the promise and hype, his previous spells with Watford and Everton both ended rather disappointingly.

The Lilywhites are favourites to win their opener at 10/11. That's little surprise considering Middlesbrough are now without the likes of Britt Assombalonga, Ashley Fletcher and George Saville.

TIP: Fulham to win at 10/11

Coventry City 16:30 Nottingham Forest (Sunday, August 8)

As things stand, the bookmakers are completely split on this one.

Both clubs are priced at 8/5 while the draw is available at 15/8.

Forest are without the likes of Sammy Ameobi, Yuri Ribeiro and the now retired Glenn Murray. Despite this, Chris Hughton's side are yet to strengthen in outfield positions.

With that in mind, Coventry City certainly can't be dismissed too easily - especially at home.

Coventry to win in the draw no bet market seems the best way to go at the price of 17/20.

TIP: Coventry City draw no bet at 17/20

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