We’re almost into spring which means we’re coming to the stage of the season where teams are moving towards the home straight. But how are the pre-season favourites fairing? Does it look like the bookies got it right or are there some surprise packages out there looking to upset the odds?
Pre-season: Man City 8/13, Liverpool 13/5, Tottenham 16/1, 33/1+ bar
Current: Liverpool 1/100, Man City 100/1
Liverpool are 22 points clear of Man City who have a game in hand with 11 matches remaining. Liverpool have lead the table all season, although a first defeat to Watford has raised slight questions of Jurgen Klopp’s side. 13 of their 26 wins have been by a single goal and based on expected points they’re over-performing by a huge 21 points. Man City, on the other hand, are underachieving by nearly six points which would have them five points clear in 1st . The less said about Tottenham the better, who despite sitting in 7th, are just four points of clear of 12th and with Harry Kane and Heung Min-Son out for extended periods, they might be a decent bet at 10/1 to finish in the bottom half.
Pre-season: Leeds 5/1, Fulham 15/2, Cardiff 11/1, West Brom 12/1, Stoke 12/1, Brentford 14/1, 18/1+ bar
Current: Leeds 5/6, West Brom 6/4, Fulham 40/1
It’s a two horse race according to the odds to win the Championship with the top two five points ahead of 3rd place Fulham. There’s just a point splitting West Brom and Leeds with 10 games to play. The Baggies have a couple of tough away games in Swansea and Brentford in the next three, where as Leeds have three of the next four at Elland Road. The odds aren’t a surprise when you also consider Leeds sit 1st in many of the key performance indicators such as shots, shots-on-target, shots against and possession. West Brom just about make the top five and coupled with the next set of fixtures, one could argue Leeds should be shorter and are a bet.
Pre-season: Sunderland 7/2, Ipswich 7/1, Portsmouth 15/2, Peterborough 10/1, Rotherham 11/1, 20/1+ bar
Current: Coventry 6/4, Rotherham 13/5, Portsmouth 7/1, Sunderland 10/1
Sunderland once again began the season as favourites, only slightly higher than last season’s 3/1, and a play-off spot looks likely again according to the odds. A loss to leaders Coventry on Sunday saw them drop six points behind having played a game more. Ipswich were top of the league after 15 games but have dropped like a stone since November picking up just 19 points from 19 games, and it could get worse with both of their top scorers Kayden Jackson and James Norwood out injured. League One is fascinating and I wouldn’t want to touch Coventry at 6/4 with no home ground/advantage. They’re the 14th lowest ‘home’ scorers, but have the 3rd most wins. They have the best 2nd best defence but with 12 games left it somehow doesn’t feel sustainable.
Pre-season: Bradford 7/1, Plymouth 10/1, Mansfield 10/1, Salford City 11/1, Scunthorpe 12/1, Northampton 14/1, 16/1+ bar
Current: Swindon 4/7, Crewe 6/1, Plymouth 11/1, Exeter 12/1, Cheltenham 14/1
Following a 1-1 draw at league leaders Swindon on the 4th January, Bradford were just six points off the top but a run of just two wins in 11 have seen the Yorkshire side drop to 9th and 15 points behind 1st. Plymouth have recovered from a sticky start of the season to have won 15 of their last 23 games to take them to within four points of Swindon and could be an alternative to the 4/7 at 11/1. Big spending Salford City were expected to be up at the top of the table and challenging but have spent most of the season sat in mid-table and despite more investment in January, find themselves 10th, nine points off the play-offs. They opened as big as 14/1 and went off at half that price so if there’s double figures available in the summer for next season, that will be worth getting stuck into.