Sports

Four sides who have sprung a surprise thus far in the Championship

Considered one of the most difficult divisions in European football, the English Championship is a gruelling 46-game season — and that’s not including the extra two or three games for the sides that reach the play-offs.

With matches coming at teams thick and fast, twice a week on a regular basis in fact, it can become increasingly difficult to make your betting predictions when checking the Betfair odds on the Championship, as more often than not one or two teams will cause an upset.

Now a third of the way into the 2021-22 season, nothing seems to have changed on that front. However, there a few sides who are still sitting higher up in the table at this stage of the campaign than you would expect and a couple of unlikely clubs are starting to look like potential play-off contenders when they were perhaps more fancied for relegation back in the summer!

That said, let’s take a look at four sides who have arguably exceeded expectations up until this point. Read on to find out more!

Coventry City

Promoted from League One in 2019-20 and 16th in the Championship last season, Coventry City have been this season’s biggest surprise outfit. Currently sitting pretty in fourth, Mark Robins’ men really have outdone themselves in the early part of this season. The highlight of the year so far has to be the 4-1 home win over automatic promotion hopefuls Fulham. However, consistency could let the Sky Blues down as they have won just once in their last five outings. Coventry need to put together a string of good results or they could begin to rapidly fall down the table.

Queens Park Rangers

This season marks seven years since QPR last featured in the Premier League — finishing rock bottom of the English top flight in the 2014-15 campaign with just four wins. They have spent the best part of their return to the Championship in the bottom half of the table, even flirting with relegation on a couple of occasions. But Mark Warburton seems to have finally found the right formula at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium. The Rs are fifth in the league, but like Coventry need to be that little bit more consistent if they are to stay high up the table.

Stoke City

Another team who have largely struggled since being relegated from the Premier League, Stoke City are yet to record a top-half finish since their return to the Championship in 2018. Prior to this season, Michael O’Neill had done little more than help steady the ship since taking the reins in the west Midlands in 2019, taking Stoke from 15th to 14th. This year, the Potters seem to have clicked. They are much more enjoyable to watch than Stoke sides of years gone by and they are heading in the right direction. Currently in sixth, O’Neill’s men recently ended a four-game run without victory and the Northern Irishman will be hoping that they can build on that.

Luton Town

After dropping from the Championship all the way down to the Conference with three successive relegations in the late 2000s, it took Luton Town a while to rebuild and climb their way back up the football league pyramid. However, a decade on from becoming a Conference side, the Hatters were crowned League One winners and returned to the Championship. They defied all the odds to avoid relegation in their first season back, staying up on the final day of the season as Nathan Jones returned from Stoke and somehow managed to save them. A mid-table finish last year was again above expectations, but the Bedfordshire side are flirting with the play-offs so far this season.  

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