It's said that the Championship is the most unpredictable and competitive league in the world, where any team, on their day, can beat anyone else. That's certainly true this season, with a number of big teams expected to do well not performing to expectations and some smaller teams unexpectedly challenging for promotion at the top of the table.
Some of those teams are still being over and underrated by the bookies, even though we are nearly one-third of the way through the season.
Two teams that come straight to mind when looking at our odds table are Birmingham and Aston Villa. The two West-Midlands sides are at opposite ends of the table but Aston Villa's odds to win the Championship (66/1) are still lower than Birmingham's (100/1). That fact alone shows how much the bookies are fearing and favouring the teams that spent big in the summer, with Newcastle and Norwich out on their own in terms of odds, despite only three points separating the top four teams.
It also shows the competitive nature of the league, in that Aston Villa are 12 places below Birmingham but only nine points behind them. Indeed, there are only six points between Villa and Bristol City, currently occupying the last play-off place in sixth place. Winning the league looks a little far off but despite having only won two matches, Villa still have a good chance of making the play-offs, at 5/2.
|Fulham (H)||Burton (A)|
|Birmingham (A)||Aston Villa (H)|
|Blackburn (H)||Huddersfield (A)|
|Brighton (A)||Bristol City (H)|
|Cardiff (H)||Brentford (A)|
Looking at their respective fixtures, both teams should come out of that five-game period with a respectable amount of points. With Bruce newly at the helm though, the match between them on 30th October could prove decisive in whether Aston Villa charge up the table and maybe even mount a title challenge. For Birmingham, it could be the difference between them maintaining their top six position or slipping into mid-table obscurity.