With just 10 rounds of Championship fixtures to go, the race for the final playoff spot is tough to call. Right now, the top five are believed to be quite secure. West Brom are 1/9 to record a top six finish, while fifth-placed Middlesbrough are as short as 2/11 to get over the line. However, after those two things begin to get complicated.
There are as many six sides in the fight for sixth. You could drop the race down to 15th placed Swansea, who are eight points off sixth with a game in hand. We’ll be looking at each step of the playoff race in our Championship betting previews. However, here we’re looking at the latest odds for a top six finish and seeing where the value lies.
Bristol City may have been dethroned in their push for the top six this weekend, but they remain favourites. The Robins raced into contention after an excellent winning streak early in 2019. They have had problems in recent weeks, losing four of their last five matches. On top of that, their manager Lee Johnson is being linked with the West Brom job. Despite that, you can find the Ashton Gate side at 15/8 with bet365 to take back sixth before the end of the campaign.
However, they’re going to need to boost their form in order to make it their own. At a shade under 2/1, they don’t exactly scream value to us after recent results. The last playoff spot is often claimed by a side who come flying out of nowhere, so the Robins may have set off on their streak a little too early for their own good.
We recently addressed issues at Derby and looked at what the future holds for Frank Lampard. His side are back in sixth, but they got there with another draw at the weekend. A 1-1 draw with Sheffield Wednesday wasn’t the most stellar of results, and they’ve really lacked a winning mentality in recent weeks. The Rams seemingly relied too much on star men Harry Wilson and Mason Mount, who have been quiet in recent weeks.
The Rams are narrowly ahead of Bristol City in the table, and they’re narrowly behind them in the betting. They are priced at 2/1 with BetVictor, but we have little faith in them keeping their one-point lead over the chasing pack.
One side racing into contention are Nottingham Forest – a side who were expected to spend the season in the fight for the playoffs at least. It took the replacement of Aitor Karanka to get them back in the mix, now Martin O’Neill has kicked them into gear. A strong home record of late has helped them move within two points of sixth, but finding that consistency on the road is the issue.
They are 9/2 with BetVictor in the fight for sixth. That seems fair, as they head into their final five away trips of the season without a win in 10 matches on their travels.
A huge victory on Sunday helped Aston Villa to continue their playoff push. They saw off Second City rivals Birmingham, a win which pushed the Villains into ninth place. They sit just four points off the top six, as they look to go one step further than last season. After losing the playoff final last year, the club are pushing to make the top six, and make the leap into the Premier League.
There are questions over Forest away, Bristol City’s home record and Derby overall. However, Villa are a well-rounded side, as long as Jack Grealish features in the side. They are back to their best with the midfielder returned to the starting line up. He’s inspired them to back to back victories and made them a side capable of not just making the playoffs, but winning them.
Villa obviously have issues which have left them in ninth, but they’ve shown they can match the teams near the top with Grealish around. We aren’t hugely convinced by West Brom or Middlesbrough, and there’s always a concern that the third placed side will slump. That could pave the way for Villa to claim a shock place in the top flight. They’re decent value at 6/1 to make the top six, while they’re well-priced promotion outsiders at 20/1 with BetFred.
Strangely, a Brentford side in 13th are sitting at 8/1 with BetVictor, making them shorter than the in-form Preston. They have shown signs of recovery in recent months, but there’s little to back up their top six ambitions. The Bees have claimed only 27% of their current points tally on the road, winning just twice on their travels. That doesn’t bode well for their remaining six away matches, and it puts a lot of pressure on their home results.
The Bees are solid at home, but they’ve been given favourable fixtures so far. They’ve won 11 times at Griffin Park, but in their 18 matches there they’ve met 11 sides from the bottom half. Their remaining five games here include four top 10 teams. Preston are one of them, while they face three of the top six. The Bees have yet to beat any of the top seven at home this term, so their odds seem far too short.
The form side in the playoff chase is Preston, who are flying as things stand. A 10 game unbeaten run has put them in the mix, but the bookies have little faith in them. They sit out at 12/1 with Coral to make it into the playoffs, which is strange given how short Brentford are. Last season Alex Neil’s side finished up in seventh, and we can see them narrowly missing out on the top six once again.
It’s an open race and plenty can change in the coming weeks. However, we can certainly see a challenge to the likes of Derby and Bristol City. Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa are certainly in the mix, and they seem like the value in the middle of the pack, between the struggling leaders and the outsiders.