Which promoted team will take to the Premier League best next season?
We look at the season gone by and look ahead to the 2020/21 Premier League campaign
Fulham secured the final place in the 2020/21 Premier League after a 2-1 after extra time win in the Championship play-off final under the Wembley arch, at the expense of Brentford.
Two goals from Joe Bryan, including a disguised 40-yard free-kick were enough to help Fulham bounce back to the top flight at the first time of asking.
They’ll join Championship winners Leeds United, who are back in the Premier League for the first time since 2003/04, and runners-up West Bromwich Albion, returning to the top flight two seasons after their relegation.
Ahead of next season, we look at each promoted club to see their star performers from this campaign and where they may need to strengthen to see who could perform best in the Premier League.
10 years and 12 managers after returning to the Championship following a brief two season spell in League One, Leeds United seem to have finally found the perfect fit for head coach.
Marcelo Bielsa came close to returning the Peacocks to the big time in his first season, losing out to Derby County in the play-offs. But this season, they’ve stormed the league, finishing 10 points clear of West Brom. Our traders think they could do well next term too, given their relegation odds of 4/1.
Kalvin Phillips was perhaps the standout performer throughout the season for Leeds, with the hometown 24-year-old defensive midfielder becoming a linchpin in the centre of the park, dropping deep to cover and break up opposition attacks while pushing play on when he could.
Patrick Bamford ended the campaign as the Whites’ top goalscorer in the league with 17 to his name, including some important strikes against Millwall, Blackburn, Luton and Cardiff in the process.
Other honourable mentions go to Ben White, on loan from Brighton. He could prove a worthwhile purchase should a deal be sanctioned, as the centre-back was recognised as one of the top performers throughout the season, helping Leeds to the best defensive record in the league.
Pablo Hernandez was another who proved his worth, with the now 35-year-old Spanish winger showing his class and scoring nine goals despite a good number of sub appearances. Hernandez has previous experience in the top flight which could prove valuable to an inexperienced side.
Looking ahead, Leeds may consider strengthening in between the sticks as Kiko Casilla has made some high profile errors over the last two seasons. Illan Meslier has signed a three-year-deal at the club and could take the number one spot.
More attacking options could be needed too. Leeds should learn from Norwich City’s mistake, after storming the Championship last season, their attacking prowess dried up. The Whites could look for an experienced striker, while the Canaries Emi Buendia has been linked following his impressive campaign.
West Bromwich Albion
The Baggies ran Leeds as close as they could, but faded away just after the resumption of the league on their way to securing their place in the top flight.
A draw against Queens Park Rangers was enough to secure second place for West Brom, but three wins from their last 10 league matches made it a lot closer than it could once have been.
Charlie Austin and Hal Robson-Kanu shared the top goalscoring award at the club with 10 apiece, but the joint-second top scorers in the league, only behind Brentford, shared the goals among the team.
The Baggies star performer throughout the season was no doubt Matheus Pereira, with the Brazilian, on loan from Sporting, recognised as one of the best players in the league, finishing with eight goals.
His trickery and speed down the wing made it hard for defenders to stop his progress, with his vision helping the Baggies attack break down defenders. Turning his transfer into a permanent was the top priority come the end of the season. They triggered his buyout clause of just over £8m.
Romaine Sawyers, sitting just in front of Semi Ajayi in the back four for West Brom shored up their defence from seasons gone by. Ajayi also proved an attacking threat too, ending the season with five league goals.
Baggies head coach Slaven Bilić may consider attacking options to be top of his list of priorities this season. Austin and Robson-Kanu do have valuable Premier League experience, but they’ll need a striker who can score more than 10 goals a season if they’re to remain in the top tier.
With the loss of Nathan Ferguson to Crystal Palace, the Baggies will need to strengthen defensively too. Darnell Furlong has made the right back position his own, but they’ll need a back-up plan in case of emergencies. If they don’t strengthen, it could be a long season – they’re joint 11/10 favourites to go down.
Head coach Scott Parker will be keen to avoid the mess which was caused last time Fulham reached the top flight, blowing in excess of £100m on players that didn’t work out.
There appears to be a better core to the side this time around, with the retention of Aleksandar Mitrović one of the key reasons they could bounce back so quickly.
His 26 league goals made him the joint-top scorer, and ensured Fulham made the play-offs. He’s had two previous spells in the Premier League before, and neither have gone as well as he’d have liked them to. Mitrović’s game has matured somewhat since then.
Captain Tom Cairney put in an impressive shift again this season, with his influence on the pitch being felt on their way to securing their spot in the Premier League. He popped up with eight goals too, but worryingly, that put him second on their top scorer chart.
The Cottagers have a vast array of attacking talent, including the likes of Ivan Cavaleiro, Anthony Knockaert, Neeskens Kebano and Bobby Decordova-Reid, all of which failed to hit the heights they’re capable of.
Knockaert has proven that he has Premier League ability with Brighton, and he should look to replicate that again. Josh Onomah, a summer signing from Tottenham, has chipped in with some crucial goals and became more influential as the season went on. If he can continue his good form, he could be a handful going forward.
Marek Rodák has taken the number one shirt from Marcus Bettinelli, and the 23-year-old shotstopper looks to have a bright future in between the sticks. He was instrumental in keeping Brentford’s free-flowing and free-scoring attack out until the 122nd minute in the play-off final.
With Harrison Reed’s loan spell at the club ending, and odds of 11/10 to go straight back down, Fulham will need to look at securing another one or two in the centre of midfield. Michael Hector has had an impressive debut season at centre back, but a solid defensive midfielder in front of him could make him more assured in the Premier League.
Elsewhere for Fulham, it’s just a case of signing solid, back up options. If they’re to lose Mitrović, through transfer or injury, they’ll lose over a third of their goals from last season. They need a 10-15-a-goal season striker who can fill any potential void.
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All odds and markets correct as of date of publication.