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Championship - Football: EFL weekend preview

Another new era gets under way at Watford when Slaven Bilic takes charge of his first game against Stoke City in the Championship on Sunday.

League leaders Sheffield United are in action on Saturday, hosting Birmingham City as they attempt to continue building momentum, while there's also a big clash at the bottom with Coventry City hosting Middlesbrough.

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Bilic begins tenure on the road


Stoke City v Watford, Championship


bet365 Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent


12:00, Sunday 2nd October 2022

How to watch

Sky Sports Main Event


Stoke 11/8, Draw 9/4, Watford 21/10

It's fair to say that Watford's appointment of Rob Edwards, who had never managed any higher than League Two, raised a few eyebrows over the summer.

Edwards was tasked with trying to lead the Hornets back to the top-flight at the first time of asking, having been relegated from the Premier League under Roy Hodgson last season.

Watford started the campaign positively enough, beating Sheffield United before enjoying a five-game unbeaten run.

But in true Vicarage Road fashion, the board opted to pull the plug on Edwards during the international break after just one win in six across all competitions and the club sitting 10th.

Bilic was confirmed as his successor almost immediately and he'll be hoping to make a positive start on Sunday.

He takes Watford north to face Stoke at the bet365 Stadium as they seek their first away victory of the campaign, having drawn four and lost one.

Stoke, who have also made a change in the dugout this season with Alex Neil replacing Michael O'Neill, start this round of fixtures four places and two points behind Watford.

It has been slow going for the Potters with the new man at the helm, winning just one of their four outings, but the chance to work with some of the squad during the international break may prove beneficial.

A big issue for the two clubs has been finding the back of the net so backing under 2.5 goals at 4/6 could be the way to go.

Each of Watford's five away games have seen fewer than three goals scored, while that has also been true in three of Stoke's five at home.

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Blades aim to maintain perfect home record


Sheffield United v Birmingham City, Championship


Bramall Lane, Sheffield


15:00, Saturday 1st October 2022


Sheff Utd 4/9, Draw 15/4, Birmingham 15/8

Sheffield United have been in the ascendancy since Paul Heckingbottom took charge in November 2021.

The former Leeds United and Barnsley boss led the Blades to the play-offs last season, but they came up short in the semi-finals against Nottingham Forest.

This campaign started with a loss at Watford, but they've remained unbeaten in the following nine games, winning seven of them, and they deservedly sit three points clear of Norwich City at the top of the Championship.

They've been in formidable form at home and boast four victories from as many outings, while they've conceded just once during that sequence.

Birmingham are the latest club to visit Bramall Lane and their form is starting to move in the right direction after enjoying a three-game unbeaten run.

The Blues have won their last two games on the road, beating Preston North End and West Brom, but the Blades are set to pose an altogether tougher test.

United have the second-best defensive record in the division and look good value at 6/5 to win to nil.

Related Championship News

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Sky Blues playing catch-up


Coventry City v Middlesbrough, Championship


Coventry Building Society Arena, Coventry


15:00, Saturday 1st October 2022


Coventry 2/1, Draw 9/4, Middlesbrough 7/5 

Coventry City have played three games fewer than a majority of clubs in the Championship due to issues with their pitch.

The stop-start nature of their campaign has been hugely detrimental on performances and they sit bottom of the standings with just three points.

They have picked up two of those points during their last two outings, drawing with Luton Town and Birmingham, and they sit seven points from safety.

Saturday's meeting with Middlesbrough, who lie 22nd, could provide the Sky Blues with a perfect chance to get their first win of the term.

Boro were touted as potential promotion contenders before the campaign started and results have been well below-par. They've only managed to claim two victories and both of those wins came at the Riverside, beating Swansea City and Sunderland.

Chris Wilder's side have picked up just one point on their travels, losing three of their four engagements, and the former Sheffield United boss could be under serious pressure if they taste defeat again on Saturday.

Coventry ran out 2-0 winners when Boro came to town last season and they are 7/2 to claim all three points by a one-goal margin.

Title rivals meet at Portman Road

Third-placed Ipswich Town, who suffered their first defeat of the season last time out, host second-placed Portsmouth on Saturday, with just goal difference keeping the pair apart at the right end of the League One table.

Town had gone nine games without loss to emerge as the frontrunners in the third tier, but they fell to a 2-1 loss to Plymouth Argyle last weekend.

Kieran McKenna's side will be keen to bounce back immediately, but overcoming Portsmouth could prove to be a difficult task.

Pompey have picked up 10 points from a possible 12 on their travels this term, winning each of their last three away fixtures, and they can be backed at 7/2 to add another victory to that tally.

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