Fixture difficulty matrix: Championship, 2017/18

As usual, I’ve taken the newly-released EFL fixtures and combined them with an aggregation of leading bookmakers’ odds to visualise where each club’s tough and easy matches appear to be next season. Each row in the matrix below lists a club’s league matches in chronological order, colour-coded based on how difficult they appear to be and the clubs themselves are sorted and numbered by where the odds imply they’ll finish in the table.

I’ve coloured the six strongest-looking clubs (based purely on the odds) in red and the six weakest-looking in blue, but you can use the numbers to identify which fixtures are which.

Sunderland need to hit the ground running in their return to the second tier, with their first three matches all against clubs expected to challenge them for promotion. It could also be a dispiriting start for Burton, who face five tough fixtures in their first ten of the campaign.

QPR would be advised to get plenty of points on the board before the run-in, as their last “easy” game is scheduled for mid-February but they face five of the six toughest-looking clubs thereafter.

Birmingham could start and finish the season strongly, with three of their first four games against clubs expected to struggle and four of their last nine likewise.

You can find similar matrices for the other two EFL divisions here and if you’re wondering about the Premier League, I did one of these for PA which can be seen here in full and as a snazzier “who has the toughest start” version for Bwin here.