In a weekend where Huddersfield continued their promotion push, and Milan secured a crucial win in Serie A, we’re looking at the biggest Market Movers.
Well, it’s official. Huddersfield Town are mathematically safe from relegation. Given the joint-biggest handicap at the start of the season (28 points, along with Blackpool and Peterborough), top six backers were hard to find.
Town parted ways with David Wagner at the start of 2019, and in the space of 18 months, Jan Siewert and Danny Cowley had followed. For a moment it looked like Carlos Corberan would be next out of the door, after a poor start to 2021.
From the turn of the year to the end of the 2020-21 season, nobody picked up fewer points than the Terriers, who won just three of their last 24 games, with a squad seemingly incapable of playing the style of football the Spaniard wanted.
Despite survival, it looked to be another long slog for the West Yorkshire side, whose recruits included Matty Pearson from Luton and Tom Lees from relegated Sheffield Wednesday.
But the pair have been magnificent at the back, and Town have kept 15 clean sheets this season – the most in the league – conceding just two goals in their last seven and three in their last nine, with the added advantage of midfield maestro Lewis O’Brien still being at the club.
Their backers against a poor Posh side didn’t have long to wait to be paid out as they were 2-0 up after seven minutes with the likes of Jonathan Hogg, Pipa and Naby Sarr not required off the bench.
They’re now undefeated in 18 games in all competitions, 16 in the Championship, and are the form side in Europe.
Huddersfield were 10/1 to finish in the top six in pre-season, and were out to 20/1 after that 5-1 hammering at home to Fulham.
The Terriers did go on to win the next three games but by the end of November, after an inconsistent run of results, they were 5/1 shots for the top six after back-to-back defeats of a one-goal margin to play-off challengers QPR & Middlesbrough.
Matty Godden’s injury-time equaliser for Coventry in mid-December had Huddersfield in 10th and 9/1 for the top six, 66/1 for the top three, 150/1 for the top two and 33/1 for promotion.
The reaction to that frustrating late goal has been nothing short of sensational, the highlight being a 2-1 win down on the banks of the Thames, with Corberan’s side shortening from 9/2 into 2/1 for the top six after that victory and currently trading at 1/2 and 11/2 to be promoted.
The suggestion Arsenal would finish in the top four this season seemed hopeful in the summer. It seemed downright delusional after the opening three games saw them pick up zero points, scoring zero goals and conceding nine. Mikel Arteta was under pressure and they were 12/1 after the 5-0 hammering by Manchester City.
But Arsenal did have injuries who started to return, such as Gabriel and Ben White to what had been a fragile defence, as well as the introduction of Aaron Ramsdale, and three wins on the trot, including a 3-1 victory against Spurs, saw them 11/2.
They were as short as 11/10 before losing 3-2 to Manchester United, which saw them back out to 5/2, and the dramatic win by Everton at Goodison in which the hosts scored two late goals saw them out further to 6/1.
The defeat to a side who couldn’t buy a win felt very typical of Arsenal at the time, that as soon as they looked like putting a run together, they’d prove to be their own worst enemy, but they seem to have discovered a fresh resilience since. They haven’t been derailed by the absence and then departure of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang; they won four on the bounce and were cut to 9/4 on Boxing Day.
It could have been five on the bounce but for that crazy two minutes against title-chasing City. That’s their only defeat in their last 10, and while rivals Tottenham and Manchester United continue to fall over themselves, the Gunners are best-placed to land Champions League football at 8/15.
A perfect start to the season saw Milan cut from 12/1 to 5/1 after winning their first three games, and after 11, dreams of a first Scudetto since 2011 were very much alive, as they shared top spot in Serie A with Napoli on 31 points.
A draw with Inter had them 3/1 for the title, but that was followed by back-to-back defeats at the hands of Fiorentina, in which Dusan Vlahovic bagged a brace, and Sassuolo, as they were pushed out to 6/1.
More dropped points to Udinese and Napoli had them back out to double figures while Inter were in the middle of their eight-game winning run
But Milan have hung in there as Inter’s form, of just two wins in their last seven, has opened the door. The six-pointer at the weekend between Napoli and Milan saw the Rossoneri secure a big win to remain top of the table, and 4/1 to still be there at the end of the season.
European football was the goal for Hertha Berlin this season, but after just four wins from their opening 13 games, they were a point above the relegation play-off place, and Pal Dardai was sacked.
The change seemed to have had the desired effect as Hertha picked up seven points from their next four, including a 3-2 win over title-chasing Borussia Dortmund with the prolific Erling Haaland also firing a rare blank. Marco Richter bagged a brace that day, he also scored in back-to-back wins in October when Hertha were sitting comfortably in mid-table and 14/1 for relegation.
But they’ve yet to win in 2022. It's now two draws and six defeats since the start of the year and after the latest defeat, a 4-1 hammering at home to a previously out-of-sorts Eintracht Frankfurt, as well as a 3-2 home cup defeat to city rivals Union, Hertha are 8/11 for relegation having conceded 13 goals in the last three games.
By Steve Freeth