The top and bottom of it - how Sunderland compare with the likes of Aston Villa, Leeds and QPR


As we all know, you can't read too much into opening day results, and in the most unpredictable league in the world that could not be truer. However following the weekends games, looking more so at squad quality and experience, here is a quick rundown on how I expect the championship season to unfold.


Automatic Promotion:

Given their huge spending last season, I expect Steve Bruce's Villa side to really push for a top 2 finish this season. It took a while for their squad to gel last year but they picked up form towards the back end of last season. If they can continue that form into the beginning of this one and Jonathan Kodja can recreate his goal scoring of last season I can't see any other team keeping up with them.

For the second spot there are many contenders with 'Boro and Wolves both having spent massively, the latter of which having beaten the former 1-0 on Saturday. Despite this I'm still leaning slightly towards 'Boro to get the second spot due to having a more experienced championship manager in Garry Monk and proven championship players. Wolves have dipped into the Portuguese market a lot this season, smashing their transfer record for Ruben Neves, seeing him link up with former manager at Porto - Nuno.

Playoffs:

In my opinion, half the league, if not more, are in contention to finish in the play-off positions in what could be the most competitive championship season ever. 

That said, there are still certain teams who have a better chance than others, Sheff Wed have been in and around them the past few years, and I'm sure they will again. Brentford have immense quality in their ranks, with players like Jota and Alan Judge both attracting Premier League interest .Following 3 successive top 10 finishes since their promotion I think they will be the Championship's real surprise package this year, perhaps even becoming the 50th team to ever play in the Premier League by achieving promotion via the playoffs. 

Other notable contenders for the other two spots include Fulham, Norwich, Reading and Leeds all of which have been there or thereabouts in recent years, however if I was to stick my neck on the line I'd go for Fulham and Leeds. 

As you may have seen in my previous prediction on the site I see Sunderland being mid-table, I was tempted to include them in potential play – off candidates given the good performance on Friday, but like I said I don't wish to read to much into one game. Given our minimal budget and scarce squad I believe it will be too tough a task to break into the top 6.

Relegation:

Once again there are many teams who could go down, but I'd make Burton Albion favorites for bottom spot. They survived by just one point last season and having had their record signing, Liam Boyce, ruled out for the season I just don't think they'll have the quality to compete in games this campaign. 

QPR also survived by the skin of their teeth last campaign and with Tony Fernandes having completely withdrawn investment in playing staff this season I think they too will be scrapping with survival along with Burton and the three promoted teams: Sheffield Utd, Millwall and Bolton.

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