I have Newcastle to win the Championship and gain promotion to The Premier League. Newcastle has been by far the best team in the Championship. Dwight Gayle has been exquisite up top this season. The likes of Matt Ritchie and Ciaran Clark are both Premier League proven players. Diamé was Hull City’s best player last season as they were promoted, so there is experience there. Lastly, they have Rafa Benitez as a manager, a champions league winner with Liverpool and without a doubt has the most impressive resumé in the league.
It’s very close at the top, but I believe Rafa Benitez will lead Newcastle to the top and guide to Premier League football. With the likes of Matt Ritchie, Jonjo Shelvey and Dwight Gayle in the lineup, it will be interesting to see how Newcastle will shape up in the Premier League next season.
I have Huddersfield Town finishing second and gaining automatic promotion. Huddersfield has been exceptional all season long. Their manager David Wagner has helped them turn the John Smith’s Stadium into a fortress. Their form this season at home has been outstanding going 11-2-2 in the league after recently beating Brighton and Leeds. The win vs Leeds earlier today shows that Huddersfield isn’t just a playoff contender anymore; they are now serious title contenders and could gain automatic promotion.
Brighton has ridden their rock solid defence to 2nd place in the Championship, conceding just 24 goals through 29 games. With a win in their next match, they could extend their lead above 3rd-place side Reading to 8 points. This would provide a heavy cushion that I think would allow them to see out a top 2 finish, earning them automatic promotion.
As underlined in their 3-3 draw with Brentford, Brighton are sure to go up separating them from the rest of pack, but will lack the little bit extra to win the EFL Championship. We haven’t seen the Seagulls in the top league in quite a few seasons, and Chris Hughton’s side have been outstanding this season. It will be hard to say if Brighton will go on to do anything like the 18-game win streak they went on this season in the Premier League, but I don’t expect them to go down without a fight when next season arrives.
I have Brighton winning the Championship Playoff. Brighton have finished in a Championship Playoff place many years in the past, except for 1 calamity of a season in 14/15 when they finished 20th. They have been hard done by in the past, losing to Sheffield Wednesday in last year’s semi-final. There has just been a failure to win when pressure is on them, failing to reach the Playoff final year after year. Brighton, who drew 3-3 away to Brentford earlier today, lost to Huddersfield away on Thursday and were knocked out of he FA cup by non-league side Lincoln City. And you guessed it they lost AWAY. Brighton has lost 4 and drawn 1 of their last 5 away games in all competitions, which is hurting their hopes of automatic promotion. This means they could soon be replaced in the title picture by the likes of Huddersfield, Reading, or Leeds if they keep dropping points away from home.
Nik: Sheffield Wednesday
Sheffield Wednesday experienced heartbreak last year, losing to Hull City in the Playoff finals. I think that disappointment will be enough to take them over the hump this year. They say defense wins championships, and Sheffield Wednesday’s defense is currently the only reason they are in the top 6. They have conceded 28 goals, while only scoring 34. If they can find a way to be more clinical in front of goal, I think they have a real shot at going to the Premier League.
Reading, Huddersfield and Leeds are all scrambling towards a third place finish that will give them a chance to promotion, but I think Leeds United will be the ones to claim that elusive third spot for promotion at the end of the season. Former Swansea manager Garry Monk has done a great job of guiding Leeds to a respectable season, and who knows? Their promotion could come at the expense of a Swansea relegation.
Let us know what you think in the comments!