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Championship Kicks Off This Weekend
Battle for the three positions in the top flight begins
Posted Aug 03, 2011 by Chris White
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The eagerly awaited Championship season gets underway this weekend as it is set to be one of the most exciting leagues anywhere in Europe with the standard improving year on year.
West Ham United, Birmingham City and Blackpool were all relegated from the Premiership at the end of last season, and all will be contenders for an immediate return to the top-flight. All three will struggle, however, having been forced into a number of sales, seeing their squads decimated over the close season.
West Ham have lost players such as Demba Ba and Jonathan Spector, whilst managing to hang on to the pictured Carlton Cole and captain Scott Parker. Birmingham have lost almost a whole team, with key departures including defender Roger Johnson, goalkeeper Ben Foster and midfielder Seb Larsson. Blackpool, meanwhile, have lost talisman Charlie Adam to Liverpool, midfielder David Vaughan and striker DJ Campbell is currently in talks with Premiership new-boys QPR.
Along with the three relegated clubs, Cardiff City will be looking to avenge the heartbreak of last year’s playoff defeat and finally make it to the big time, having come so close on so many occasions now. Leicester City are going to be serious contenders this year, with Sven-Goran Eriksson spending big money during the summer, bringing in players such as defender John Pantsil, striker and free-agent David Nugent, Gelson Fernandes and taking Michael Johnson on loan.
Nottingham Forest came close last year but were also defeated in the playoffs and they too will be looking to go one better this year, while Reading are going to be challenging for a place in the big time, providing they can keep hold of Shane Long who is the target for a number of clubs, including Leicester and Liverpool.
At the foot of the Championship table, unfortunately I can see Peterborough United struggling. They’ve lost top scorer Craig Mackail-Smith and are yet to replace him, while his new club Brighton could also be down there. Barnsley will be down at the bottom, as they just don’t have the finances to help pull themselves away, and it is a similar situation at Crystal Palace.
Whatever happens, fasten your seatbelts, grab yourself a pie and a brew, and enjoy the ride.
This weekend’s fixtures: (kick off 3pm unless stated) Friday: Hull City v Blackpool (7.45). Saturday: Coventry City v Leicester City (12.30), Brighton v Doncaster Rovers, Bristol City v Ipswich Town, Burnley v Watford, Derby County v Birmingham City, Middlesbrough v Portsmouth, Nottingham Forest v Barnsley, Peterborough United v Crystal Palace, Reading v Millwall, Southampton v Leeds United (5.20). Sunday: West Ham United v Cardiff City (1.00).