With three big teams dropping down from the Premier League last season, the battle to get back to the head table of English football has been hotting up in the Championship this term.
Leicester City, Leeds United, and Southampton all suffered the heartbreak of relegation and now the trio are battling it out to make a return to the top flight at the first time of asking.
Foxes Leading The Way
Leicester City were the pacesetters in the first half of the Championship campaign and the Foxes will take some stopping to be denied the title this season. The East Midlands outfit is currently priced at -900 in the outright football odds to win the Championship title, after winning 23 of their first 30 league games of the campaign.
Ipswich Town was keeping the pace with the Foxes for a time but the East Anglia side have since dropped away and are now +110 in the Championship promotion odds. Ipswich is likely to still have a big part to play in how this promotion drama plays out but manager Kieran McKenna and his side will need to rediscover their early-season form to narrow the gap on frontrunners Leicester.
There were many eyebrows raised when the Foxes were dragged into the relegation dogfight last season and even more surprise when they went down on the final day of the campaign. As a side that managed to send shockwaves through the world of soccer by winning the Premier League title in the 2015/16 season, few would have anticipated such a decline at King Power Stadium.
However, Leicester’s time outside the Premier League might well be shortlived, with the Foxes dominating in the Championship this season. Manager Enzo Maresca has taken his chance at Leicester, after working closely previously with the great Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. Going out on his own with the Foxes, the 43-year-old Italian is pushing Leicester towards not just promotion but potential silverware with the Championship title, too.
Saints And Whites Desperate To Bounce Back
Relegation for Southampton and Leeds seemed more likely in the 2022/23 season than for Leicester. The Saints struggled to keep the pace in the Premier League and finished rock bottom, while a string of poor managerial appointments saw Leeds have two poor seasons before relegation finally caught up with them on the final day of the season.
Southampton made a somewhat stuttering start to the Championship campaign, as the likes of Leicester and Ipswich flew out of the blocks. However, the Saints have been outstanding this winter and their form has put them right back into the automatic promotion picture.
It was a similar story for Leeds in the first half of the campaign, as they adjusted to life under new manager Daniel Farke. Dropping points in their early games of the season meant the Whites were playing catch-up, but their form over the winter months has given Leeds hope that they can make a swift return to the top flight.
All English clubs aspire for a place in the Premier League, which offers many riches. Leicester, Leeds, Southampton, and Ipswich are all battling to get back to the Promised Land and all eyes will be on how this intriguing promotion battle plays out before the summer.