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Wednesday, 3 August 2011

League 1 Season Preview

League 1 looks like being the most fiercely competitive of all the English divisions with a whole host of teams that have the potential to challenge but no standout favourites.

The 3 teams at the top of the betting are 3 of the bigger names in the league in Huddersfield, Sheffield Wednesday & Preston and all look capable of pushing for automatic promotion places. Huddersfield look solid in midfield but are too reliant on star striker Jordan Rhodes and need other players to step up in support, that could happen with Lee Novak starting to become a semi-regular scorer.

Wednesday & Preston have the two highest profile managers in the league in Gary Megson & Phil Brown respectively but being high profile doesn't always equal being successful. Megson should get Sheffield Wednesday well organised and the signing of David Prutton on a free transfer looks particularly astute, they shouldn't lose a lot but may draw just a few too many games to win the league.

Preston North End shouldn't struggle for goals with the dependable, if a little immobile, Neil Mellor likely to chip in with 15+ and the influential Iain Hume will be able to thrive at this level. However they were very poor last year and Phil Brown will need to get confidence built back up in this set of players, we can see them starting slowly and coming with a late challenge that may be a little too late.

Charlton Athletic sit behind the others as 4th favourites at 9/1 but they have a plethora of attacking options with 3 of their players prominent in the top scorer market led by one of the league's best players Bradley Wright-Phillips. Johnnie Jackson chipped in with 12 goals from midfield last year & they have great creativity throughout the side. Manager Chris Powell had a good start to his tenure before the club dropped away in customary style at the season's close, he's now had some time in charge and been able to get players in to suit a style he wants to play. Charlton need to improve at the back and Powell needs to impart his own experience as a player, he is a club legend & the fans will turn out in numbers & give full support from the start of the season - the support can be used to drive the team on. Danny Hollands is a great signing from Bournemouth in the centre of the park & should help make up for the loss of Jose Semedo to Sheffield Wednesday.

The top scorer market looks competitive & the already mentioned Wright-Phillips, Hume & Rhodes should get their fair share of goals but we think a couple of players at bigger prices will go well. Dean Bowditch managed 15 goals in the league last year for a poor Yeovil side and looks a tasty price at 40/1 with Coral now that he has joined the ambitious MK Dons who should push for a playoff place. Sheffield United signed Chris Porter from Derby and if he can rediscover the form he had at Oldham & Motherwell before joining the Rams, where he was sporadically used, he should be able to put a challenge in for the golden boot, Blue Square offer 25/1.

Contributor Kumarbaz makes the Racing Post Big Kick Off 11/12 with his 40/1 Dean Bowditch selection

The other market looking like there could be some value is the season handicap, the league looks tight with no team likely to be able to runaway with it so a team receiving a fair few points is likely to be in the reckoning. Notts County were fancied as challengers last year but ended up in 19th place, they need Lee Hughes to play more games but if he does the 23 points start they receive with Skybet could be generous, they are only getting 18 points with some other firms. Manager Martin Allen only joined in April & could be the man to get County going the right way.

Outright winner - Charlton Athletic at 9/1 with William Hill
Top goalscorer - Dean Bowditch (MK Dons) each way at 40/1 with Coral
Top goalscorer - Chris Porter (Sheffield United) at 25/1
Handicap market - Notts County with +23 at 18/1 with Skybet

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