We at Bet Free Bets introduce you to the latest instalment in our rundown of Europe's top leagues – this time we are a little closer to home as we discuss the finely poised English Championship.
With very few leagues as exciting or unpredictable as our own second tier, we run the rule over the promotion and play off candidates and the teams fighting to stay in the division.
Likely winners – Newcastle United (just)
Newcastle looked set to run away with the Championship at one point, but have been unable to shake off the threat of Brighton and Hove Albion, led by former Toon boss Chris Hughton. With one point seprating the two sides, Newcastle's strength in depth and the firepower of Dwight Gayle should be enough to see them over the line.
Surprise Package – Huddersfield Town
Huddersfield finished a lowly 19th position last season on 51 points, just two points ahead of Rotherham – the side currently rock bottom in the Championship. This season has seen a dramatic transformation, with huge credit going to manager David Wagner. The former Borussia Dortmund II boss was expected to follow Jurgen Klopp to Anfield when he left Dortmund in late 2015, but instead was brought in to replace Chris Powell at the struggling Terries. A busy summer saw Wagner bring in 13 new players, all making an immediate impact as Huddersfield sat on top of the table in September.
Whilst many expected Huddersfield to falter, they have kept their superb form going all season, already ten points better off than their 2015/16 total – a run of five successive wins has left them in third position, with their sights set firmly on automatic promotion.
Underachievers – Aston Villa
There are a host of sides that fall into the 'underachieving' category with the likes of Blackburn, Wolves, QPR and Cardiff City all expected to fare a lot better this season. But Aston Villa are our pick.
A host of summer signings were added to what was already arguably one of the divisions strongest squads, those signings included the £12m capture of Ross McCormack. The former Leeds and Fulham forward was expected to fire Villa back to the Premier League at the first attempt but he managed a dismal 3 goals in 20 league games before a fall-out with boss Steve Bruce saw him leave on loan for Nottingham Forest.
12 draws in their 31 league games to date have left Villa languishing in 16th position, with only relegation threatened Wigan Athletic finding the net fewer times that the 30 managed by Aston Villa.
Here are the latest 2016/17 Championship odds, courtesy of Bet Free Bets partner, Bet365:
Newcastle United - 8/15
Brighton & Hove Albion - 2/1
Huddersfield Town - 14/1
To Finish in Top Six
Newcastle United - 1/1000
Brighton & Hove Albion - 1/500
Huddersfield Town - 1/14
Reading - 2/5
Sheffield Wednesday - 2/5
Leeds United - 4/7
Norwich City - 5/4
Fulham - 6/4
Derby County - 11/4
Rotherham - 1/1000
Blackburn Rovers - 4/6
Burton Albion - 5/6
Wigan Athletic - 5/4
Queens Park Rangers - 9/2
Bristol City - 11/2
Nottingham Forest - 6/1