The Championship isn’t done yet, with another five huge clashes remaining in the campaign. There are still four sides chasing Premier League promotion in the playoffs. Last season’s winners Fulham were said to have landed a huge £160million from their victory – although the majority of that was wasted in the summer.
However, there’s a potentially huge windfall for whoever goes up, while the four contenders all seem quite evenly matched. The playoffs are notoriously tough, but which of the four will claim promotion? Here we’re looking at the betting odds in the fight for the top flight, while we’re also looking back over the season for each of the contenders.
Promotion Odds: 15/8 with bet365
The side who lost out in the fight for the top two have to pick themselves up to go again. They lost their final game of the season with a 3-2 loss at Ipswich, which wasn’t the greatest note for them to wrap up the campaign. They’ve now lost three of their last four matches going into the playoffs, which does suggest that this is another tough finish to a season for Marcelo Bielsa. Earlier this season we took a glance over how his sides finish up – it doesn’t make great reading for Leeds fans.
There is certainly a question of mental fatigue over a side who have had to quickly adjust to a huge change in style. While they’re still covering the same distance in games, they don’t seem as organised in the Bielsa style. With three games left to play, that’s going to be a massive challenge for Leeds. There’s also the fact that they’ve overachieved in finishing third given the quality of their squad.
Leeds are a hard side to back to go up with their price at 15/8 with bet365. If they could recreate their early season form then it would be different, but this Leeds side could just have dipped at the wrong time. That’s why we’ve gone against them in our preview for their first leg clash with the Rams.
West Bromwich Albion
Promotion Odds: 7/2 with Betfair
West Brom are the under the radar side among these four. They weren’t really involved in the top two fight or the top six battle for much of the season. The Baggies dipped out of the automatic promotion race early on. Despite that, West Brom are the only one of last season’s relegated sides to have a chance of returning to the Premier League, but can they do it?
It’s certainly been a mixed season for the Baggies, who are under caretaker boss James Shan for the playoffs. They got rid of Darren Moore after an awful run. However, West Brom failed to replace him. Now they have an interim boss in charge going into this crucial stage of the season, which makes us doubt their chances.
Despite finishing fourth, the Baggies are the third favourites to go up at 7/2 with Betfair. That’s hardly a surprise, given a mixed record against the sides around them. In six clashes with their fellow playoff sides, they have just two wins. At home, West Brom have won once at home to the top seven. That record leaves us swerving them in the promotion fight.
Promotion Odds: 2/1 with Coral
The side with form ahead of the playoffs are Aston Villa, who finished up in fifth. They may have lost to Norwich on the final day, but a two-month unbeaten run before that shows Villa’s potential. They had an incredible turnaround under Dean Smith, which pushed them into the top six fight. Their 10 game winning run made sure of a top-six finish, while it has made them a side to fear in the playoffs.
Aston Villa are aiming to go one better than last term’s playoff final loss to Fulham. That looked unlikely back in January, while they found themselves in the bottom half under Steve Bruce earlier in the campaign. However, with a winning run behind them, they have made the cut, with more than enough quality to kick on from here. They should make a strong start, as we see them edging their first leg meeting with West Brom this week.
The Villains are priced up at 2/1 with Coral to win promotion, which shows that they’re genuine rivals to Leeds. They’re certainly a better option than the Elland Road side, while they are in the best form of all of these sides. We think Villa are the best bet of the bunch to secure a Premier League place next term.
Promotion Odds: 9/2 with BetVictor
The team who booked their top six place on the final day are obvious outsiders. The Rams have been in this position before, losing out to Fulham after finishing sixth last term. Frank Lampard hit the minimum target for Derby this season, but can he finally bring them back to the Premier League? Their late rush to the playoffs has brought positivity to the side, but it doesn’t quite match the lofty expectations which arrived with Lampard last summer.
The Rams have built up some form in recent weeks, having claimed four wins and two draws across their last six. That was enough to get them over the line in the fight for sixth, but can they carry that on in the playoffs? Like West Brom, their record leaves a lot to be desired. They did beat an uninterested Baggies side on the final day, but they lost home and away to Leeds and Villa this term.
While the Spygate melodrama will carry across their meeting with Leeds, we struggle to see Derby winning the playoff race. They are 9/2 with BetVictor to go up, but we don’t see them winning promotion.