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Championship promotion battle already threatening to become a three-horse race

The three sides, all of whom have recent Premier League experience and boast squads packed with top-end talent, have cut away from the chasing pack in the race for promotion already

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Prutton assesses West Brom, Fulham and Sheff Utd’s chances of success

There is a trend starting to emerge at the top of the Championship.

The top three – Bournemouth, Fulham and West Bromwich Albion – are threatening to run away with proceedings as the season progresses.

The latter two were relegated from the Premier League last season whilst Bournemouth exited a year prior; all three have squads that would not look out of place in the top flight and the summer saw them all strengthen considerably once more.

The spending on wages and transfer fees by the aforementioned trio was eye-raising, in a summer when most clubs outside the Premier League have largely been restricted to frees or loans.

Will another side be able to break into the top two this season? Let us know in the comments section



Bournemouth have made a superb start to the season, losing just one of their opening 16 league games




Fulham’s £12million purchase of Harry Wilson was by far and away the most expensive deal to be ratified in the division, whilst Bournemouth’s signing of Gary Cahill, Robbie Brady and Ryan Christie will have been looked at enviously by most other teams in the second tier.

Albion might not have spent a penny on transfer fees but they already possessed a more-than-decent squad for this level and the arrival of Alex Mowatt and Jordan Hugill only strengthened that.

It is no surprise that these three sides were inserted as favourites to win promotion by the bookmakers.

As it stands there is a four-point buffer between the third-placed Baggies and fourth-placed Coventry. The gap between the Sky Blues and Bournemouth is 10 already.







The Cherries might have tasted defeat for the first time all season on Wednesday night – Preston pulling off a shock, but deserved, 2-1 win at the Vitality – but they look a good bet to last the distance and remain in the top two come May.

Indeed, boss Scott Parker – who swapped Craven Cottage for the south coast in the summer – believes the defeat will actually stand them in good stead.

“It’s very easy winning football matches or 15 unbeaten, you often find that the train just rolls and you don’t really get to know what your team is about, or how much you can improve,” says the ex-England international.

“We’ve got a very good habit of analysing things, but certainly in adversity or when things go wrong, that’s when you can really gauge or you can develop a team.

“You can develop individuals because these are the moments that test people. I say test people. We’ve lost one game out of 16 and we’ve had an incredible start to the season, so I’m very steady and very level in my thinking in what I’m saying.

“But of course it’s the first time we’ve experienced this, so now we’ll improve, we’ll get better for this and we’ll go again.”









For Fulham, they are the form side in the division as evidenced by their destruction of Blackburn. Their 7-0 triumph at Ewood Park took their tally in the league to a whopping 43 goals after just 16 outings.

Of course, it helps when you have a striker who is in lethal form and it seems only a matter of when, not if, Aleksandar Mitrovic will break the Championship’s goalscoring record.

With 19 already, he is only 13 goals away from breaking Ivan Toney’s record which was set last season.

As for Albion, they will readily admit they have not been as consistent as their two promotion rivals but they have been able to grind out results – documented by their gritty 1-0 win over Hull.

That maintained their strong home form, where they remain unbeaten.

Manager Valerien Ismael referenced his frustrations at Hull’s gameplan on Wednesday: “Hull City came here to stick six buses in front of goal but it was about being patient and finding the solution.”



West Bromwich Albion are finding ways to win scrappy games, always a good sign when aiming for promotion




Saturday sees all three sides in action at 3pm and offers the chance for them to increase the gap on the chasing pack, before another international break.

Parker’s Bournemouth will look to bounce back from that Preston defeat when they welcome Swansea, whilst Fulham travel to Peterborough and the Baggies welcome Middlesbrough to the Hawthorns.

Each will enter their respective match as favourites. Each knows only victory will suffice.


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