Championship Betting Recap: Promotion, play-offs and relegation
With the Championship set to make its long-awaited return on June 20, Jack Critchley takes a look at how things stand ahead of the final nine fixtures...
Leeds 1.11 and West Brom 1.13 will both be expecting to play Premier League football next season, and heading into the final nine rounds of fixtures, the high-flying duo are separated by just a single point at the top of the Championship table.
Following a festive wobble, Leeds rediscovered their form throughout February and managed to keep five consecutive clean sheets. Despite the lack of full contact training sessions, Marcelo Bielsa has been working his players extremely hard throughout the break and that could be bad news for Sunday's opponents Cardiff.
The fixture list has been relatively kind to the West Yorkshire outfit with four of their remaining nine matches against relegation-threatened sides.
Leeds are1.44 to finish as champions this season
West Brom have a six point cushion on the sides below them, although the Baggies have won just two of their last five Championship fixtures. Slaven Bilic's side have been defensively sound with just one goal conceded in their last four outings. However, they still have to face West London duo Fulham and Brentford.
Top Six Challengers
Fulham are 2.54 to secure promotion back to the Premier League this season, although with a six point gap to bridge, many are predicting them to just fall short. However, the Cottagers could be the side to beat in the play-offs this summer.
Scott Parker's men began the season with a shock defeat to newly-promoted Barnsley, although they quickly put that behind them with three consecutive victories in mid-August.They have suffered just a single defeat since January 1, and will be expected to continue where they left off this weekend.
Fulham's issues have mainly come on the road this campaign with just six away victories. They still have to travel to Elland Road, the Hawthorns and the City Ground, and a final day visit to the DW Stadium may not be entirely straightforward either.
Aleksandar Mitrovic remains the Championship's top goalscorer with 23, and the Serbian will be key to their chances of success this season.
Near-neighbours Brentford have a little more work to do, although the Bees looked extremely sharp during a recent friendly success over Arsenal. At 2.54 for promotion this season, Thomas Frank's side have been extremely easy on the eye, particularly at Griffin Park. However, even Premier League football next year may not be enough to keep hold of much-coveted duo Said Benrahma and Ollie Watkins.
Nottingham Forest may be the lowest scorers in the top six, however, Sabri Lamouchi's side are extremely well-organised and have been superb on their travels, losing on just three occasions. Despite their good fortunes on the road, they've won just one of their last six Championship matches, although they do have a number of winnable games on the horizon.
Nottingham Forest are1.45 to finish in the top six
Preston are clinging onto the final play-off spot although their 2020 form is quite concerning. PNE have lost five of their 12 matches this calendar year, and have kept just a single clean sheet since mid-January. Despite this, the Lilywhite's home form is absolutely superb, with only Brentford, QPR and West Brom having scored more goals on their own patch so far this campaign.
Bristol City are leading the charge for sixth spot with the Robins just a point behind Alex Neil's side. They have been one of the more unpredictable sides in the Championship, and have the worst defence in the top half. However, Lee Johnson's troops have some incredible talent in their squad, with Niclas Eliasson proving particularly effective this season. The enforced break has also allowed the men from the West Country to get a number of key players back to full fitness, with striker Benik Afobe amongst those who could return to first-team action before the end of the campaign.
Cardiff are 4.90 for a top six finish this season, and sit level on points with Neil Harris' former employers Millwall. The pair will be looking to capitalise on any potential slip-ups from the two sides directly above them.
The Battle to Avoid the Dreaded Drop
At 1.19 for relegation this season, Barnsley's Championship future is starting to look extremely bleak. The Tykes were buoyed by the arrival of Gerhard Struber in November but the Austrian was unable to maintain that momentum, and his side drew consecutive blanks at the beginning of March. The South Yorkshire side are seven points adrift of safety, and with visits to Elland Road and Griffin Park still left on the schedule, they look nailed on for an instant return to League One.
Luton used the break to make a managerial switch with Nathan Jones returning to Kenilworth Road at the end of May. Outgoing boss Graeme Jones had overseen a mini-resurgence throughout February and March, with the Bedfordshire outfit losing just one of their last six matches, however, it wasn't enough to save his job and it may not be enough to preserve their Championship status either. With comfortably the division's worst defence, the returning Welshman must ensure that his side keep things tight during the run-in.
Charlton's problems are beginning to mount up. Lee Bowyer's side have had their fair share of off-the-field issues to contend with, and they won't be able to call upon the services of three first-team players during the final stretch. Chris Solly, David Davis and Lyle Taylor have all refused to play in the remaining fixtures in a bid to stay fit ahead of the summer transfer window. It's a huge blow for the Londoners, and with Taylor having netted 25% of their goals this season, the Montserrat international is likely to be the biggest loss.
The Addicks are just two points from safety. They have lost eight of their last 13 Championship matches and haven't found the net in any of their last three games.
Charlton are1.56 to be relegated from the Championship
Hull's form has nosedived since the January sales of Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki. Grant McCann's side are without a win in their last 11 matches, but do have some winnable games left on the fixture list. The East Yorkshire side will face four of their relegation rivals during the run-in, although things may be tougher when they visit the Hawthorns and Ashton Gate at the beginning of July. They are 2.70 to drop into the third tier.
Wigan were one of the form sides in the division throughout February and March, and Paul Cook's men will be hoping that the break hasn't killed their momentum. They've kept four clean sheets in a row, although as the Championship's second-lowest scorers, they will need to offer more in the final third when the season gets back underway. The Latics won just four times between August and December, yet they've managed five since the turn of the year.
Sheffield Wednesday are in dire straits financially, and have several key players out of contract this summer. The Owls have struggled to recapture their 2019 form this year, and have clocked just a single victory since beating Leeds on January 11th. Despite having a nine point cushion over the bottom three, they cannot take their foot off the gas just yet.
Sheffield Wednesday are5.70 to be relegated from the Championship
Other sides in danger include Middlesbrough, Stoke and Huddersfield, although the latter's home form could be enough to save them from the drop. Danny Cowley's side have won three of their last four games in West Yorkshire, whilst Stoke have also improved since Michael O'Neill's arrival in the Potteries. Boro have a two point safety cushion, and the Championship's weakest attack has failed to fire in three of their last five matches. Jonathon Woodgate's side have a relatively easy run-in with seventh-placed Bristol City the highest ranked opponents left on the fixture list.
Any Other Business
A number of players are refusing to play during the remaining games with the aformentioned Lyle Taylor arguably the most high-profile. Middlesbrough's Daniel Ayala will also sit out the rest of the season with the Spaniard heavily linked with a move to West Brom this summer.
Birmingham have announced that Pep Clotet will be leaving his position as head coach this summer. Brum's campaign has been a mixed bag, although under the guidance of the outgoing Spaniard, they have become extremely tough to beat, losing just one of their last 11 Championship matches. Chris Hughton, Slavisa Jokanvoic and Nigel Clough have all been linked with the vacancy at St. Andrews.
The Blues are 3.00to finish in the top half this season