If finding the winner of the Championship is difficult, finding the top scorer can be like playing a football lottery. Last season Temu Pukki romped home at 100/1 for surprise winners Norwich whilst the other placed strikers were Tammy Abraham, Neal Maupay (33/1) Dwight Gayle and Billy Sharp (66/1). You couldn’t even back Abraham and Gayle at the start of the season, so the lesson is clear – look far and wide for the value.
If Leeds are to live upto their price – and they are just 4/1 for the title and 11/8 to be promoted – then they will do it in a trailblazing style and Patrick Bamford could be the one to benefit. Bamford suffered a posterior cruciate ligament [PCL] injury while playing against Bristol City last season, an injury that kept him out for four months and restricted him to just 23 appearances last season. Nine goals was a good return from that season and if he stays fit and scored at the same rate, 20 goals is a realistic target. Leeds are arguably the most attacking team in the division and should have no problem scoring goals; Bamford looks a natural contender with an injury free run.
He could be helped or hindered by Leeds’ signing of Helder Costa, who has the potential to light up the division – again – but even if that doesn’t work out there is plenty of firepower to support him.
Stoke are widely expected to improve on last season’s dismal efforts with Nathan Jones having had a full pre-season at the helm and if that is the case then Benik Afobe is likely to be needed. Afobe scored just eight goals last season – not too bad given that Stoke scored only 45 but has not yet had the chance of a full season in the Championship, having been in the Premier League for three seasons before scoring 6 goals on loan at Wolves in 16 appearances. If Afobe manages a full season in a Stoke side that can post a respectable tally then he can probably beat odds of 33/1.
Huddersfield haven’t been mentioned much at all but their young hotshot Karlan Grant was one of the only bright spots of a dire season to end last campaign and if he continues in the same vein of form that saw him scored 4 goals in 13 games last season in this division then he could be thereabouts at the end of the season. Grant has never played more than 30 games in a season in his career but if he does this time – and he is just 23 – then he could lead a Terriers charge back to the top.
Both Neal Maupay and Ollie Watkins are very tempting options for Brentford but there are still strong rumors about both potentially moving before the window goes. They could well be bets after the transfer window has closed, when one might well have gone.
Last but never least, if – and this is a big if – Middlesbrough manage to match last season’s performance with a freer style of football under Johnathan Woodgate then Britt Assombalonga will surely be able to better last season’s total of 15 and that would see him oon the premises.
Advice – Top Scorer
2 pts each/way Patrick Bamford (16/1 Ladbrokes)
2 pts each/way Karlan Aherne-Grant (16/1 Hills, Bet365)
1 pt each/way Benik Afobe (33/1 Bet365, Betfair)
1 pt each/way Britt Assombalonga (20/1 SkyBet, Hills)