Early EFL Results a Positive Sign for Leeds’ Promotion Chances, Concerning for Fulham

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Promotion: it’s what every team in the English Championship is seeking. But only three of the 24 teams can earn a spot in the 2020-21 Premier League season. 

Two matchdays into the year, Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton Athletic are atop the table with a perfect 6 points. But don’t expect the table to look this way for long. Neither one was in the top-ten favorites to earn promotion to the Premier League at the start of the season, according to SportsBettingDime.com. 

Sheffield has beaten a Reading team that finished 20th last year along with a newly-promoted Barnsley side. Meanwhile, Charlton (which is newly promoted, itself) has surprised Blackburn and Stoke, two mid-table teams from last year with negative goal differentials.

In sum, the supporters of the current league leaders should certainly be happy with the way the year has started, but will see their teams face much stiffer tests going forward. 

The favorites for promotion entering the year were Leeds (7/4), Fulham (9/4), Cardiff (3/1), and West Brom (3/1). Through two matches, Leeds and West Brom are both on four points (1-1-0), while Fulham and Cardiff are on three (1-0-1). 

Among those four teams, Leeds supporters should feel the most confident early on, while Fulham fans have the most cause for concern. 

Leeds opened the year with a convincing 3-1 away victory over Bristol City, which finished 8th in the EFL last season with a +6 goal difference. Marcelo Bielsa will be disappointed his team didn’t pick up the full three points at home against Nottingham (1-1) last weekend, but his team dominated possession (68-32%), shots (15-6), and corners (4-1) and was much the better side throughout. 

The early results for the Peacocks portend a strong season. 

On the other end of the spectrum, relegated Fulham opened the season with a 1-0 setback to Barnsley. These teams were two divisions apart last year, yet they looked evenly matched. Luke Thomas’ 13th-minute tally was the only marker of the game and Fulham’s anemic offense, which only managed 34 goals in 38 Premier League matches last year, looked just as lackluster as in 2018-19. 

Fulham responded with a 2-0 home win over Blackburn, but again, it was not terribly convincing, with the shots finishing 12-10 and corners level at 5-5. 

Again, it’s extremely early days in the Championship, but those who wagered on Leeds to earn promotion certainly look to have gotten better value than those who wagered on the Cottagers to get back to the top flight. 

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