Best Odds: 23/10
Leeds United and Stoke City are considered to be two of the frontrunners for promotion this season, and they’ll battle it out for the first time in over a decade this weekend as the Championship gets back underway. The always unpredictable second-tier of English football is well known for throwing up shock results on a week by week basis, and when you analyse the teams that will be taking part in the league this year, it’s not that much of a stretch to imagine another nine months of absolute chaos.
Leeds United have been gradually improving on a year by year basis as of late, as they slowly attempt to make the jump back up to the Premier League. There have certainly been roadblocks, but it finally seems as if they’ve got the drive, backing and ambition necessary to take that next step. They’ve brought in a parade of new faces that should be capable of big things in the Championship, and when you’ve got the fans behind you like they do, quite literally anything is possible.
Barry Douglas is expected to be at the forefront of Leeds’ promotion push this season and should start the game this weekend. Lewis Baker and Jamal Blackman are also expected to play against Stoke.
Being relegated is never easy, especially when you’ve been in the top flight for around a decade – and that’s the situation that Stoke City find themselves in. Thankfully they’ve been able to keep hold of several key players as their hunt for promotion begins once again. The club has a solid structure in place, a loyal fanbase, and a manager who knows what it takes to get the job done at this level. As long as they don’t let the occasion and the fans get to them at Elland Road, they should be in for a successful day at the office.
Ince, Afobe and McClean, three of the biggest signings in the Championship, will all likely start as Stoke aim to get off to a winning start.
Factors to Consider
- Stoke City were relegated from the Premier League last season.
- Leeds finished 13th in the Championship last season.
- The game will be played at Elland Road.
- Leeds are winning 44-28 in the head to head standings, with 18 draws.
- Their last encounter was 12 years ago when Stoke won 3-1.
The Elland Road faithful will be dying to see Leeds come away with all three points from this one in order to get their season off and running, but people continue to underestimate what the Potters can do – even when the evidence is right in front of them. They’ve been able to keep a solid core throughout their squad despite being relegated, and we can see them taking the lead early on here. However, we believe that the home side will snatch a late equaliser, leaving this as a 1-1 draw to kick off the campaign.
Best Odds: 23/10
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