Championship run-in: Who’ll clinch automatic promotion?
Latest odds as we head into the home straight
There are only three rounds of games left in the Championship table and it’s still all to play for.
The title race could go right down to the wire, while Leeds United, West Bromwich Albion, Brentford and Fulham are all still in with a chance of finishing in the top two and automatically securing Premier League football.
Ahead of a huge game between West Brom and Fulham this evening, we’ve looked at the promotion chances of each of the four hopefuls.
Fixtures remaining: Barnsley (H), Derby County (A), Charlton Athletic (H)
Is this going to be the year? Leeds fans have seen their side go close before only to miss out, but this season looks like it could be different.
With three games left to play, Leeds are three points clear at the top of the table. They’re six points clear of Brentford in third too. We’ve got them as clear 1/7 favourites to win the division.
They’ve won four of their last five league outings and can guarantee automatic promotion if they take four points from their next two games. Can they hold their nerve?
The game against Derby could be the big test. After last season’s ‘spygate’ controversy, Derby went on to knock Marcelo Bielsa’s side out of the play-offs. The Rams have play-off hopes of their own and will be out to dent Leeds’ title bid.
They’ll also face Lee Bowyer’s Charlton, who won 1-0 at Elland Road earlier this season. Bowyer may have spent seven years at Elland Road, but he’ll be determined to win, with the Addicks fighting for survival.
West Bromwich Albion
Fixtures remaining: Fulham (H), Huddersfield Town (A), QPR (H)
At one point, it looked like Leeds and West Brom were virtually certain to secure the top two spots. West Brom are still 1/5 to seal promotion, but a run of five games without a win either side of the extended break has given hope to the chasing pack.
The Baggies steadied the ship with successive wins over Sheffield Wednesday, Hull City and Derby, only to then drop two points against Blackburn Rovers last weekend. That makes this evening’s game against fourth-placed Fulham even more important.
Slaven Bilic’s side are 11/10 to get the win and keep the pressure on Leeds. Three points would also kill off Fulham’s automatic promotion chances. But defeat would give Brentford the chance to move into second and bring Fulham right into the mix.
Lively winger Grady Diangana should return to the starting XI, allowing the influential Matheus Pereira to return to his usual spot in the middle.
Bilic has spoken about having to act like a psychologist recently. With the pressure on, will his team keep their composure to get over the line?
Fixtures remaining: Preston North End (H) Stoke City (A), Barnsley (H)
Brentford have forced themselves into contention for a top-two spot with a superb run of seven consecutive wins.
They’ve now won seven games on the spin, a run that includes wins over fellow promotion hopefuls West Brom and Fulham. Victory in each of their remaining games would take them to 10 straight wins – would that be enough to go up automatically? We have the Bees at 4/7 for promotion.
A key factor in the West London club’s recent form is the displays of Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma.
Watkins is the Championship’s joint-top scorer with 24 goals and with a release clause understood to be just £18m, it’s no surprise that he’s been linked with Crystal Palace and Southampton. Benrahma has scored 17 goals from out wide, which has seen him linked with Chelsea.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see both in the Premier League next season. But will it be for Brentford?
Fixtures remaining: West Brom (A), Sheffield Wednesday (H), Wigan Athletic (A)
Fulham are assured of a play-off place, but their chances of finishing in the top two rest on today’s game against West Brom.
They’re 14/5 to get a crucial win, which would take them just two points behind the Baggies with two games to play. Anything less than victory would mean Scott Parker’s side have to settle for the lottery of the play-offs.
West Brom have only lost two league games at home all season, but the visitors come into this on the back of four straight wins. They’ve also got the threat of Aleksandar Mitrovic, though Tom Cairney is set to miss out again.
It’s now or never for Fulham in terms of automatic promotion. Will they deliver?
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication