The Premier League is pretty much sewn up for the season, as Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea at times saunter, and other times stumble, towards the crown. In fact it seems that conclusive that Paddy Power were confident enough to pay out in November. It’s a similar story in Germany where Bayern Munich are 1/500 to win the Bundesliga, and in Italy where Juventus are 1/100 to win Serie A. Even in Spain it is a straight shoot-out between heavyweights Barcelona and Real Madrid, offering punters very little chance to make a value bet.
But the Championship is another story altogether. With a Premier League place up for grabs, plus the league title, there are just six points separating the top six as the Championship promises one of the most exciting finishes to a league season.
Bournemouth are top of the league by a single point and are the 8/5 favourites to win the Championship. A 3-0 win at home to Middlesbrough on Saturday was a huge boost for the club who are now unbeaten in six. Although the Cherries’ lead is marginal, they only have one more game remaining against a top 10 side – Ipswich away on April 3. It’s a favourable run in for the current league leaders, but of all the punters cash going on the top six sides, just 12 per cent of it is for Bournemouth.
Derby are the side receiving the most punter support, with more than a third of the cash riding on the Rams winning the league. At the end of February Derby had a two point lead at the top of the table, but six games without a win since has seen them drop to six points off the pace, and out to 16/1 to win the title. The Rams still have to play each of the bottom three, although a home tie against Watford on April 3 could be a season defining match for supporters and punters alike.
Middlesbrough and Watford are locked together on 72 points, and there isn’t much to separate them in terms of betting popularity either, with both clubs receiving similar levels of cash. That Boro defeat to Bournemouth made it four defeats in eight for Aitor Karanka’s side, although they’re still a shorter price than Watford to win the league at 3/1. The Hornets had won five and drawn one before Saturday’s defeat to Ipswich and are now 4/1 to lift the Championship. A huge three days in April awaits for Watford, with Derby away on April 3, followed by Middlesbrough at home on April 6.
Almost 25 per cent of punters cash is riding on Norwich who have lost just one of the last 12. The Canaries only have two games left against top half sides, and both of them are at Carrow Road (Sheffield Wednesday, April 6 and Middlesbrough April 18). Their run is kinder than most, and with just three points to make up on Bournemouth it is clear why punters are keen to get involved at 4/1.
The outsiders are Ipswich Town at 50/1. Mick McCarthy’s men are six points off the pace, and have a significantly poorer goal difference than the leading contenders, leaving them with a mountain to climb at odds of 50/1. The Tractor Boys got a 90th minute winner against Watford on Saturday however and can still have a huge influence on the title race, with a home game with Bournemouth right around the corner.