The Sky Bet Championship is drawing to a close, but we already know two teams that will be in the English Premier League next season. Watford and AFC Bournemouth have won promotion to the top flight of English soccer after a long and grueling campaign in the second division.
Watford sits on top with 88 points with one game remaining of the season, and Bournemouth sits in second with 87 points. Watford will take on Sheffield Wednesday at home on Saturday and Bournemouth will travel to London to take on Charlton Athletic FC.
Watford’s last trip to the Premier League was a quick one-season stay back in 2006-07 when the club finished last and was sent back down to the Championship. After finishing 13th last season, they went on a great run this season and a fine record of 27 wins, 7 draws and 11 losses secured the promotion. Watford’s strikers performed extremely well this season and Troy Deeney has 21 goals, Odion Jude Ighalo 20 goals, and Matej Vydra had 15. Deeney is second in scoring in the Championship behind Daryl Murphy (25) of Ipswich Town. They have a few familiar faces for English soccer fans, with ex-Tottenham goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, former Manchester United prospect Craig Cathart, and former Juventus full-back Marco Motta.
With some additions during the summer, Watford should be able to make a better impression than they did last time they were up in the Premier League. If their strikers can adapt to the pace and physicality of playing against tougher opponents, they already have a leg up on the competition around the bottom of the Premier League. The first priority for newly promoted sides is always to just find a way to stay up by any means possible and then take it from there.
Bournemouth is a real sunshine story. The small club from Dorset in the southwest will make their first appearance in the Premier League. The club played in the fourth division back in 2009-10 so the journey they have made to gain promotion to the Premier League is extraordinary. The stadium they play at only seats 12,000 people, so they might want to see if they can expand the capacity for next year as they are sure to sell out every single game.
Callum Wilson leads the team with 20 goals on the season, and Yann Kermorgant has 15 goals. Wilson was bought from Coventry City after a good season when he scored 21 league goals for Coventry in the third division. They also brought in Artur Boruc on loan from Southampton and he’s been great in net for Bournemouth. Other noticeable players besides Wilson and Kermorgant include former Newcastle United midfielder Dan Gosling and Andrew Surman (Southampton & Norwich).
Bournemouth definitely has more work to do on the transfer market than Watford, and they would be wise to see if they can make Boruc’s deal permanent. Although a lot of cash will come into the coffers at Bournemouth, I don’t think they will go and spend it all, but they will probably look to add some players with some Premier League experience and then add a couple of foreigners via the free transfer market.
These two teams will be a lot of fun to watch next season and it will also be interesting to see what type of players they can get in the summer to bolster the lineup and fight for survival in the Premier League.
We still don’t know what team will join them as the third to sixth placed teams in the Championship play for the last spot in a knockout style promotion playoff, and that race is still not finished as there are still teams that can make it in on the final day of the season on Saturday.