Wigan to beat Barnsley @ 29/20
FA Cup winners Wigan may have lost their manager and a few key players, but have thus far kept most of the promising team that finally succumbed to the drop last year.
Replacing Roberto Martinez with Owen Coyle was a smart move and he has the experience to get the best out of players like Gary Caldwell, James McCarthy and Callum McManaman.
The acquisition of Grant Holt was a coup for the Championship and the Latics should have too much for David Flitcroft’s threadbare Barnsley.
Watford to beat Birmingham @ 29/20
Gianfranco Zola’s men were unlucky not to go up automatically last season before Wilfried Zaha put paid to their Premier League hopes in the play-off final.
They will be desperate to go one better this year and if they can bring in a few more players of Matej Vydra’s quality, by whatever means necessary, they just might.
Lee Clark should be confident of his position at St Andrews due to the dire financial situation at the club. Birmingham have been forced into the loan and free transfer markets this summer and will struggle to be in the top half come May.
QPR to beat Sheffield Wednesday @ 83/100
Harry Redknapp will expect a solid start from the R’s, who have a squad packed with quality and experience. New signings Danny Simpson and Richard Dunne will provide stability to the vulnerable back line and Charlie Austin is sure to make an impact at the other end.
Karl Henry coming in to the midfield alongside Shaun Derry will make Redknapp’s side difficult to break down and considering the range of attacking options available to him (Junior Hoilett, Adel Taarabt and others) they are justified favourites to go straight back up.
Dave Jones has done an excellent job at Wednesday, but the Owls are a yo-yo club with limited resources. The former Cardiff boss is the right man to keep them in the division and anything else would be a bonus.