Where does promotion value lie in Championship’s play-off pack?
With Brighton & Hove Albion and Newcastle United all-but-certain to win promotion this season, the chasing pack will have to contend with the drama of the play-offs as they search for top-flight football.
But where do the Ladbrokes News team think the value lies?
Huddersfield Town lead the market without the top two, with 2/1 on offer for David Wagner’s men to end their 45-year wait for top-flight football.
However, the Terriers don’t have a great track record in the play-offs. The West Yorkshire clubs lost three successive semi-finals before finally scraping their way up from League One in 2012 following a penalty shoot-out triumph over Sheffield United.
With Wagner having never faced the play-offs as a manager, we reckon this could just be a bridge too far for the West Yorkshire club, who are also struggling for form right now, following successive defeats.
Hot on their heels at 11/4 are Reading. The Royals are on-song right now, and there’s next to no chance of them giving up their top-six spot, so you’re sure to get a decent run for your money.
Having beaten fellow play-off hopefuls Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United to nil in recent weeks, there’s also no doubt Jaap Stam’s men can overcome the sides around them.
They’ve also won this division twice in the past 11 years – and while Stam is inexperienced as a Championship boss, he helped PEC Zwolle secure promotion to the Eredivisie as assistant manager in 2013.
So the Royals look a smart selection – but could there be an inspired outsider further down in the betting?
We’re not sure it will be Leeds United, who have gone off the boil lately, with just one win in the last four games, and are over-reliant on Chris Wood. Indeed, the New Zealander has scored six of their last eight goals, while one of that octet was also an own goal.
So too 4/1 shots Sheffield Wednesday, whose only victory in the last five games came against the hapless Rotherham United.
Away-day specialists Fulham could prove a popular bet at 9/2, though the Cottagers’ leaky defence make them a risky choice. Especially so as they’re currently outside the play-off spots.
However, we think you could get a real run for your money from 80/1 shots Preston North End.
They’ve taken 20 points from the last 10 games, and if they can make up the five-point gap on the play-off spots, you’d have to fancy them.
Simon Grayson has already led four different clubs to promotion in the Football League, including taking Preston up from League One following a 4-0 victory in the 2015 play-off final.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing