As we’re coming closer to the end of the season there’s no surprise that Newcastle are leading the chase for automatic promotion. They’ve been solid throughout the season, and even with a few periods of poor form they’ve maintained a top spot in front of Brighton and Huddersfield. It’s looking more and more likely that Chris Hughton and his “Seagulls” will finally get their chance in the Premier League as they’ve been on the cusp of promotion for two years now, and Huddersfield are not far behind Brighton. Looking at their remaining fixtures Huddersfield might have the easiest fixtures left, but they’re 6 points behind Brighton with a game in hand plus a far worse goal difference than both Brighton and Newcastle. So there’s no surprise that the bookies have them both as huge favourites to go straight up @ 1.04 (Newcastle) and 1.14 (Brighton). Huddersfield @ 4.5 might represent some slight value if they can maintain their good form throughout the campaign.
The fight for the play-off spots is a tad more interesting with four teams involved who in theory are fighting for 6th spot. Preston will find it hard to surpass the three other teams in front of them with their poor away form, and the same could be said about Norwich. The Canaries are as hard to beat at home as anyone with only 3 defeats at Carrow Road this season, but have struggled tremendously on the road. You can get them to finish in the top 6 @ 11 (Betfair), but I can’t see them making it.
The two teams who looks the likeliest to go toe-to-toe for the spot are Fulham and Sheffield Wednesday. A duel between two sides who had quite different goals for the season in August. Sheffield Wednesday came ever so close in the play-off final vs Hull when they lost 1-0, while Fulham were battling for survival. This season Fulham’s away record along with a brilliant Tom Cairney have seen them fighting for a play-off spot instead. It’s looking like it might be one hell of a match between Sheffield Wednesday and Fulham in the last fixture of the season when Fulham travel to Hillsborough! Before that, though, Fulham face some tough opponents as they travel to Norwich, Aston Villa, Huddersfield and Derby so even with their impeccable away form it’ll be a tough run. Sheffield Wednesday face a much kinder set of opposition as their proper test is away at St James Park when they face Rafa’s Newcastle.
Sheffield Wednesday will have experience fighting for top 6 as they were up there last season too so they know what it takes. The reason I’m not even considering Norwich is because, along with being 4 points behind, they’re facing the likes of Aston Villa, Huddersfield, Reading and Leeds away (Brighton at home too). Carlos Caravahal will have a few long-term absentees back from injury too, and Tom Lees (centreback) will be a vital player for them in the run-in.
My “short term” season bet will therefore be Sheffield Wednesday to secure a top 6 spot @ 1.83 with 2 units (Bethard, but available @ bet365 for 1.8)