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2020-21 Sky Bet Championship guide: Bournemouth, Barnsley and Birmingham

5 August 2020

As the 2020-21 Sky Bet Championship season fast approaches, has put a guide together on our upcoming opponents, highlighting their previous seasons and key players the Canaries may be keeping an eye on.

In alphabetical order, today will be previewing familiar opposition from last season, a side which beat relegation by the barest of margins and a club which recently sold one of European football's most prestigious young talents.

AFC Bournemouth

Manager: Vacant
Position last season: 18th (relegated from the Premier League)
Top scorer last season: Callum Wilson (8)

The Cherries’ five-year spell in the Premier League came to an end when they were relegated on the final day of the 2019-20 campaign, Aston Villa just finishing above them thanks to a 1-1 draw with West Ham United.

Bournemouth, who hadn’t really been in relegation trouble since their first season after promotion to the top-flight in 2015, got the season off to a good start as they only lost three of the opening eleven fixtures - a run that saw them as high as seventh in the Premier League after a 1-0 win over Manchester United in November.

But five defeats on the bounce followed and, aside from a 1-0 win at Chelsea, the Cherries didn’t win again until the second half of January when they responded to a 1-0 defeat at Carrow Road with a crucial 3-1 win at home to Brighton & Hove Albion.

They then beat Aston Villa to go up to 16th and offer hope of a resurgence, but a failure to keep clean sheets ultimately saw them fall back into the relegation zone to the extent that survival was just out of reach in the end.

Bournemouth parted company with long-serving manager Eddie Howe shortly after relegation was confirmed, meaning they're now on the look-out for a new man at the helm.


Manager: Gerhard Struber
Position last season: 21st
Top scorer last season: Cauley Woodrow (14)

Barnsley’s Championship spell was almost over until the final day of the 2019-20 season, surviving by just a point as they scored a last-minute winner against Premier League hopefuls Brentford.

The Tykes, who had scored their second-last minute winner in a row to escape the bottom three, also had to put their survival credit down to Wigan Athletic after a 12-point deduction saw the Latics drop into the bottom three headed to League One.

Barnsley relied heavily on Cauley Woodrow and Conor Chaplin throughout the season, the forward duo finding 29 of their 49 total goals. Even with this clinical pairing, the Tykes went from August 10 to November 30 without a win, but they did extremely well to recover in the second part of the season and beat the drop.

Gerhard Struber is currently in charge at Oakwell, taking over from Daniel Stendel who was sacked in October and he'll be looking forward to getting having a full season with the Yorkshire side.

Birmingham City

Manager: Aitor Karanka
Position last season: 20th
Top scorer last season: Lukas Jutkiewicz (15)

About to spend their tenth consecutive season in the Championship, Birmingham are part of the furniture in the league, facing all kinds of opponents in their years. That run nearly came to an end however, when they toyed with relegation in the closing stages of the season.

Going on a ten-game undefeated streak, the Blues’ fortunes soon turned when they then went on a ten-game winless streak. Whilst picking up just a single point in their last seven games, Birmingham still did just about enough to see them stay in the second tier, staying up by two points.

Only Lukas Jutkiewicz hit double figures in their scoring, but after selling wonderkid Jude Bellingham to Borussia Dortmund, Birmingham now have the chance to reinvest and do their best to begin the ascent of the table in the next season.

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