A look ahead to the new season in the Championship and which strikers may excel
The start of the new season is now less than a month away, so it’s a good time for another predictive article. This time the focus will be on strikers and which of them may be competing to be the top scorer in the league. Of course, transfers may play some part in this as new players come in and others may leave.
However, as things stand, based on what occurred last season, these options stay relevant. If players move clubs within the Championship, then the predictions will remain the same. So, have a read, and let me know what you think about my choices. As always, the league is unpredictable and so I would only expect to get some of these right.
So, now that’s out of the way, let’s get stuck into the choices…
1. Chris Wood (Leeds United)
There is plenty of speculation around, at the moment, about Chris Wood. I don’t think anyone can argue that the New Zealand striker has had a quite an exceptional season by scoring 27 goals with a 45% contribution to his team’s overall goals. No other player in the Championship performed better than that.
Given his age of just 25, it’s not hard to see why teams in the Premier League and other Championship teams may target him this summer. It’s worth remembering though that this is the first time in his career that Wood has scored more than 20 league goals in a season. The smart money suggests that he will continue to deliver the goods, but no one can say that for sure.
Nevertheless, Leeds United know that holding onto their star striker would be the most impressive thing that they can achieve this summer. The Kiwi has managed an average rating of 7.00 and is ranked 21st in the league for shots per game. This shows that he is both a consistent performer and doesn’t need a load of chances to score.
2. Jonathan Kodjia (Aston Villa)
I’m tipping Aston Villa to win the Championship next season, and for that to happen they need a striker to get them there. Jonathan Kodjia is not Villa’s only forward option, but he looks to be the one most likely to spearhead Villa’s attack next season.
The forward’s form last season was certainly impressive, as he scored 19 goals, which is a 40% contribution to his team’s total goals. Kodjia is now 27 years old and also proved his ability to get goals with previous clubs Angers and Bristol City.
This earlier record adds to the idea that the player will produce the goals again in the coming season. Further stats on him include an average rating of 7.14 and the second highest shots per game of 3.3 in the league. This suggests he is a very consistent performer and he is good at getting in the right positions to score.
3. Nelson Oliveira (Norwich City)
Norwich City are going through a period of change, at the moment, but I’m tipping them to perform well next season. There have already been some incomings and outcomings from Carrow Road this summer, and it’s certainly going to be fascinating to see how the new-look squad performs in the Championship next season.
Nelson Oliveira seems a player that the Canaries are keen to hold onto. It was a mixed season for him last year as form, injuries and suspensions all played a part in disrupting things. Of course, the club’s overall disappointing season will have equally played a role in all of this. Hopefully, Norwich will be more settled next season, and that could lead to Oliveira producing his best form in front of goal.
The player’s performances when starting games though was quite impressive with 11 goals scored from 16 starts along with an average rating of 7.21. The evidence is certainly there that he could be in for a very productive season. Equally, his 2.3 shots per game shows that he doesn’t need a load of chances to score. One question though is he doesn’t have a reputation for scoring 15-20 league goals in a season – and it will be interesting to see if he can achieve that in the coming campaign.
4. Britt Assombalonga (Nottingham Forest)
Britt Assombalonga is another highly rated striker at Championship level that will be looking at being one of the leading scorers in the league next season. The biggest concern with him is perhaps his constant injury problems that are getting in the way of him fulfilling his potential. It could also be argued though that it plays some part in keeping him at Nottingham Forest.
The player is still only 24 and has proved himself to be a consistent goalscorer with both Forest and his previous club Peterborough. In terms of last season, he scored 14 goals from only 18 starts, along with just 1.8 shots per game – showing how clinical he is.
Forest themselves have had a difficult time of it recently though. In fact, last season they only narrowly avoided relegation to League One. Therefore, it’s vital that they have a striker that can score goals and provide consistency. However, I’m still tipping Forest to have a difficult time of it, irrespective of Assombalonga’s personal contribution.
5. Sam Winnall (Sheffield Wednesday)
Barnsley have proved to be a very successful breeding ground for Championship players. In many ways that has proved to be their downfall, as they have lost a number of key players to other teams in the league. Sam Winnall was a very successful goalscorer for the club as he managed 40 goals from 90 games.
In terms of last season, he managed to score 11 goals – but only three of those after he moved to Sheffield Wednesday, during the season. Obviously, it’s always very difficult for players to provide a consistent performance level for two different clubs in the same season. However, Winnall is certainly a player with a great deal of ability.
The 26-year-old has now had time to settle in with his new club, and will surely want to hit the ground running. Wednesday are certainly a strong team at Championship level and have been in the play-offs for the last two consecutive seasons. I see them being involved in the top six again for next season and Winnall could prove to be a very important part of their ongoing success.
6. Kenneth Zohore (Cardiff City)
Cardiff City are a team that generally struggles in the Championship with not a lot of investment going into the team these days. However, they did improve in the second half of last season and their fans will be hopeful of further improvement during the coming season. The Championship usually springs surprises, so it will be interesting to see how Cardiff get on next season.
If the Bluebirds are going to have a good season, then they will need some players that are able to perform to a high level. Of course, they have several of those types, and the focus here is on striker Kenneth Zohore. The 23-year-old forward has had a varied career so far, but it’s really been his spell in the Championship that has demonstrated what he has to offer.
In terms of last season, the forward scored 12 goals from 24 starts and managed an average rating of 7.20. Zohore also has great presence to him, standing at 6ft3, which makes him a strong player in the air. In fact, he wins 4.8 aerials per game ranking him 14th in the league on that metric. Although, he has room to develop there is certainly reason to think he could be a leading striker in the Championship next season. Check the Championship betting odds here.
This completes the content section for this article. The Championship is hard to predict – but I’m confident these strikers will be worth watching in the season ahead. Every season is new, but we can still gain some insights by what happened previously.
If this sort of content appeals to you, then be sure to keep an eye on my profile page for more of the same from the Championship. Let me know if I missed anyone from this list or included someone that didn’t deserve it. Whatever happens with these predictions, I’m looking forward to another fantastic season – and it’s now less than a month until the fun begins.