Championship Betting: Who Will Triumph in the Playoffs?
With Newcastle and Brighton both now odds-on favourites to be automatically promoted to English football's top flight, the attention of the viewing audience – and would-be punters –
will now turn to the important question of who will triumph in the end-of-season playoffs and join the top two sides in reaching the Premier League.
Today, we’re taking a look at the two teams we feel are most likely to achieve the feat, and the reasons behind their success on the field this season.
Third-placed Huddersfield saw a strong start to 2017, which could have well seen them pushing for first place contention, but three defeats in their last five outings –
including ignominious losses to Championship strugglers Bristol City and Burton – have seen the Terriers’ incredible hopes of automatic promotion slip away by the week.
With a tough run of fixtures against Norwich, Nottingham Forest, Preston and Derby in the space of 12 April days, the West Yorkshire side will have to rebound quickly to avoid falling further down the standings;
David Wagner’s side will be buoyed by their recent permanent signing of loanee striker Elias Kachunga, however, who has found the net 11 times so far this campaign.
At the back, former Manchester City youth prospect Tommy Smith has proved particularly influential for Town, combining his defensive duties with an ability to create scoring opportunities from right-back,
having a hand in nine goals and scoring four himself. The 24-year-old has earned numerous player of the month awards this campaign, and will prove crucial as Huddersfield continue to drive towards promotion.
That being said, the Terriers are unproven at the top of the game: they’ve not been featured in English football’s top flight since the 1971-72 season.
They have, of course, tasted recent playoff success, with their Wembley victory in 2012 seeing them promoted from League 1, so you shouldn’t be surprised to see them get through the
nitty-gritty of the knockout legs to reach their second Wembley playoff final in six years.
A large part of their short odds can be attributed to star Kiwi striker Chris Wood, who has scored 24 times in the league this season and sits comfortably atop the Championship top scorers table.
With fixtures against the likes of Brentford, Wolves and Burton in their sights, the Whites will fancy their chances of returning to the big-time.
Leeds’ attacking prowess this season has been helped in no small part by the signing of former Spanish international Pablo Hernandez from Al-Arabi last summer.
At 31 years of age, the former Swansea winger has managed to find the best form of his career, putting several years of obscurity behind him to be a key member of the Whites’ promotion-pushing squad.
As a club, Leeds have a storied and illustrious history, but it has been a torrid decade for the side following their exit from the Premier League in the 2003/04 season.
Despite extended periods of instability and personnel changes in recent years, the appointment of Garry Monk as manager by owner Massimo Cellino last summer has proved inspired. Leeds are hungry to return to the Premier League, and could well have the mettle to go all the way this term.
Of course, with the likes of Reading, Fulham and Sheffield Wednesday all also in contention for the playoff spots, it won’t be an easy feat for either Leeds or Huddersfield to cement their current league positions – never mind make it all the way to Wembley.