Sky Bet Championship: Stoke for the title? Will Leeds excite? Five talking points ahead of the new season
By Ali Maxwell and George Elek - Not The Top 20 Podcast
Last Updated: 01/08/18 4:03pm
The 2018/19 Sky Bet Championship gets underway this weekend, and there are plenty of reasons to get excited about the new season.
We have asked Ali Maxwell and George Elek from the Not The Top 20 Podcast to pick out five talking points ahead of the new campaign...
Not The Top 20 Podcast releases regular podcasts throughout the season, covering the EFL with passion, knowledge and opinionated analysis. Follow them on Twitter @NTT20Pod and subscribe on iTunes and Soundcloud
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Relegated sides looking to bounce back
We think Stoke look very, very strong. Gary Rowett's side has immense potential. They kept quality players like Ryan Shawcross, Bruno Martins Indi and Joe Allen and even brought in quality like Oghenekaro Etebo.
Graham Potter is an exciting appointment for Swansea but they have done little business in this window so far. West Brom have brought in some decent reinforcements at the back in Sam Johnstone and Kyle Bartley but they need a lot further forward with Salomon Rondon, Matt Phillips and Jay Rodriguez potentially leaving.
Bielsa hoping to spark Leeds
We are not sure how things will turn out at Leeds with Marcelo Bielsa as their manager - at its best, it could be glorious, dynamic football, something that hopefully the Championship will not have seen before in terms of tactical flexibility and style of play.
But there is always the potential for things to not go so well - it will be intriguing to see how both the club and Bielsa react if they start slowly, but we like the look of the squad and think we could be seeing something quite interesting at Leeds this season.
Lampard's Derby revolution
How Frank Lampard gets on is going to be absolutely fascinating - one of the Premier League's best-ever players going to Derby to cut his teeth in management, and we have already seen him go back to his old club Chelsea to bring in Mason Mount, who looks like an incredible prospect going forward.
Derby were always solid at the back under Rowett but Lampard could be the key to improving them going forward. Jack Marriott has arrived from Peterborough to join their plethora of strikers and it will be interesting to see if he can step up a level after one good season in League One.
Keeping Grealish the key for Villa
It has been an absolute rollercoaster for Villa fans but new owners have swooped in and saved the day financially, at least in the short term. But they are lacking some players and there is not much time now for Steve Bruce to add to his squad.
If Jack Grealish goes, there are definitely some question marks about how good they will be going forward so we are looking for a bit more from Villa before we get too excited about their prospects this season.
Forest's new dawn
Nottingham Forest's business over the summer is very similar to what Wolves have done in the last couple of years. They have brought in a wealth of players from the continent, mainly on loan, including one for a huge fee despite him only playing 10 times for Benfica.
One great signing is Lewis Grabban up top, who we think guarantees goals at this level. We do wonder whether this could be a transition season for them - they could storm the league or have another difficult campaign as they try to build.
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