EFL League 1 Countdown: Blackburn and Wigan to lead the way
It’s the weekend thousands of football fans have been waiting for – the start of the new Football League season.
With it comes a new bout of hope and optimism, at least for a while.
League One looks set for another thrillingly competitive affair, though it says much about the perilous nature of the modern game that the top four in the title betting have all played Premier League football in the 21st century, while two have won the FA Cup in the last 10 years!
Here’s how the odds shape up…
Champions: Blackburn Rovers @ 9/2
It’s a sorry sight to see the 1994-95 Premier League champions in the third tier, but Blackburn Rovers are certainly looking to make it a short stay.
They boast a squad easily capable of second-tier football, including Danny Graham and Elliott Bennett.
And they’ve made notable additions too in Peter Whittingham and Bradley Dack, the latter arriving for a sizeable £750,000 from Gillingham.
It means they should score goals with ease this season, and under no-nonsense Tony Mowbray, Rovers should be a cut-above the rest this year.
Promotion: Wigan Athletic @ 9/4
Relegated alongside Blackburn last year, Wigan Athletic know what’s required having won the League One title two seasons ago.
Terrace-chant hero Will Grigg hit 25 goals that year, and there’s no reason the Northern Irishman won’t be on fire once again.
New manager Paul Cook is on a high after guiding Portsmouth to the League Two title last year. He’s taken over a strong League One squad, and the likes of Dan Burn and Nick Powell should shine at this level.
It’s a case of take your pick with 16 teams priced up at 5/1 or shorter, but Portsmouth look a shoo-in.
League Two champions, Pompey are on the way back up and have been bought out by former Disney chief Michael Eisner. Funds have been promised and Brett Pitman has already arrived from Ipswich Town.
And under Kenny Jackett, the 2008 FA Cup winners have a manager who has already enjoyed promotion out of this division with Millwall and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
A play-off spot should be well within reach, while a title tilt should not be dismissed either.
But there are plenty of others in contention here. Southend United (4/1) have landed a coup in bringing Michael Kightly back to Roots Hall, while Karl Robinson could bring much-needed stability in his first full season with Charlton Athletic (10/3).
And plenty of eyes will be on Bury at 4/1, who have been the busiest side of the summer with 15 new arrivals.
Among them is Jermaine Beckford, who could thrive this year, and the experienced and pacey winger Chris Humphrey.
The bottom half of League One is a perilous place to be, and unfortunately things don’t look good for Gillingham.
The Gills won just four games after Boxing Day, and only avoided the drop by one point. They’ve since lost Bradley Dack and Cody McDonald to other League One sides, which is why they’re 6/4 to go down this time around.
It could be a tough one for Blackpool too, who arguably punched above their weight last season to gain promotion through the League Two play-offs.
The Tangerines are still enduring a war with their owners, and they’re 13/8 to drop back into the fourth-tier for the second time since playing in the Premier League just six years ago.
Click here for all the latest League One odds.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing