Who Will Win The English Football Championship? - January Update
Will Cardiff maintain their lead and hold on to 1st place in the Championship? Can Leicester or Hull make a late surge? As we look toward February, today on the blog Kevin Crout takes a look England's second tier and which clubs look most likely for automatic promotion, the play-offs and relegation.
Cardiff continue their impressive march to the championship title and now hold a 10 point lead over Leicester and Hull. Cardiff are best priced 1.57 and with the addition of Frazier Campbell they will take some stopping. They have only lost once in their last 13 games.
The chase seems to be for second spot which Leicester best price at 4.50 currently hold on goal difference and are themselves in decent form winning their last 4. Chris Wood joining from WBA has proved an instant hit scoring 5 goals in just 2 games and could be the catalyst for them to finish 2nd.
Hull are quietly going about their job and sit joint 2nd. A little blip of late has seen them win only once in 5. They certainly can't compete with Leicester and Cardiff in the transfer market so will have to maintain their push towards the top with little investment. Hull are best priced 15.0 to overcome the 10 point gap to the top and 3.25 to be promoted which looks likely to be via the play-offs.
Watford sit 4th winning 5 of the last 6 games and can be backed at 19.0 to bridge an 11 point gap to the summit. Watford currently have the best away record in the division. If they can improve slightly on their home form, won 7 of 14 then 2nd place is well within their capabilities and are 4.0 to be promoted.
Crystal Palace, who for the remainder of the season have managed to hang onto star man Wilfred Zaha, are 12 points off top spot but only 2 points behind 2nd and are 26.0 for the title and a more realistic 4.33 to be promoted. Currently on a poor run of form they have won only 1 in 8 games, there is a small 6 point cushion to 7th placed Brighton which could soon be eaten up if they don't improve soon.
Middlesbrough have been struggling of late with some injuries and have lost their last 3 matches and 4 of the last 6. It looks unlikely that very much investment will be made in the squad during the transfer window but they are only 3 points off an automatic promotion place and can be backed at 4.33 for promotion, a play-off spot at best as again a small squad looks to hinder them.
A small 5 point gap has opened up to the challengers sitting just outside the play-offs. Brighton, only 2 wins in 9 are 10.0 to be promoted. Compare this to Burnley who sit level on points with Brighton, albeit having played one more game, are best price 34.0 to be promoted. Burnley have won 4 of 6 and it would take a phenomenal effort for them to make the end of season play-offs.
Millwall are ruing the departure of loan signing Chris Wood and have won just 1 of 5. They are currently 6 points outside the play-offs and can be backed at 17.0 for promotion although it is difficult to see them pushing on with such a small squad.
Nottingham Forest have won just 2 of 8 are on the same points as Millwall having played a game more. The sacking of manager Sean O'Driscoll doesn't seem to have made an immediate impact and Forest are 17.0 to be promoted.
Leeds are also on 41 points and if they can improve their away form having won only 3 of 14 there is a decent chance they could push for a play off spot, although 13.0 for promotion looks a little short.
It seems that unless anyone from Leeds down put in an exceptional run of form, the automatic promotion and play-off positions will be contested by the above 11 teams.
Down at the bottom of the table Bristol City, at odds of 1.33 to be relegated, won their first game in 4 against relegation threatened Ipswich which will give them a big boost. They also have a game in hand but can they put in a run of form to close the 7 point gap to safety? It would be a big turn around if they escaped the trap door.
Barnsley 1.33 are also 7 points from safety and also have a game in hand. Whether they can convert that into 3 points is another question. Currently on a run of 2 wins in 7 they need to add consistency to their game.
Peterborough are 6 points from safety and 1.44 to be relegated. They have shown glimpses of form, having won 4 of their last 7 games. They need to maintain this form for longer periods than they have shown so far this season.
Ipswich have not won in 4 and are also blowing hot and cold. Currently 9.0 to be relegated and only 6 points clear having played a game more, looks to be on the high side. None of the sides at the bottom look like they could put a run together, so it looks as if the race to avoid relegation will go to the wire and Ipswich are right amongst it.
Huddersfield are themselves in free-fall having not won in 12 and are currently without a manager. They are best priced 7.0 for an immediate return to League 1. A new manager will need to be found sooner rather than later to help stop the rot.
Sheffield Wednesday sit on 32 points and are unbeaten in 3. The addition of Leroy Lita to the squad looks good business after he scored on his début in a 2-1 away win. The added fire-power should see that Wednesday can keep clear of the bottom 3 places. 4.33 for relegation is a fair price.
Wolves 17.0 although struggling with 1 win in 8 should be able to avoid a disastrous end to the season having a 7 point cushion and just about enough quality in the squad to grind out the necessary results.
Birmingham 6.0 are 8 points off the bottom 3. But rumours that they are in financial trouble and may need to sell players have pushed the price down. Unbeaten in 3 and a morale boosting away win should see them safe.
It will take something special to catch Cardiff at the top, but the race for 2nd and the play-offs looks like it will go to the last game, as should the battle for the bottom 3.
Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinCrout
And check out his blog at Football-Talk