With Everton falling into the bottom three and Huddersfield securing at least a play-off finish, we’re looking at some of the week’s biggest Market Movers.
Grim reading for Everton fans: The Toffees are now odds-on to be relegated.
From 25/1 in pre-season, to 7/1 at the time of Rafael Benitez’s departure, to 15/8 in mid-March, to 10/11 now.
A season that started with so much promise – being clapped off after a 3-1 win against Burnley on 13th September which saw Everton in the top four, and 7/1 to finish there, and being hard done by not to win at Old Trafford, when they were 2/1 for a top-six finish and 50/1 to go down – threatens to end in total disaster.
What makes matters worse for Frank Lampard is their primary relegation rivals have looked like a new side since parting with Sean Dyche. A draw at West Ham which could so easily have been a win, followed by picking up maximum points against Southampton and Wolves, with a trip to Watford up next. The great escape may well be on for Burnley.
Everyone is familiar with Everton’s run-in, which sees them face Chelsea, Arsenal and Leicester, and it may well be that they’ll have to beat each of Watford, Brentford and Crystal Palace to extend their 66-year stay in the English top flight.
A remarkable season at the John Smith’s Stadium is set to be extended, as Huddersfield Town secured their play-off place on Friday night with a win over Barnsley, condemning the South Yorkshire side to League One.
Cast your minds back to last summer and few would have been surprised to see the Terriers down there battling it out with them.
But a stellar back line has helped Lee Nicholls keep the most clean sheets in the league, and a superb run of form has seen them take the most points in the league – yes, more than Fulham, Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest – since mid-December.
Their focus now will be finishing strongly to secure either third or fourth place (at 33/1, automatic promotion might be beyond even Carlos Corberan) and a home game in the second leg of the semi-finals, where they’ll be a match for anyone at 7/2 to go up.
The promotion picture in League Two is finally becoming clear, after a number of sides have staked claims since the turn of the year.
In the last couple of months, each of Northampton, Port Vale, Exeter, Sutton and Tranmere have occupied the final automatic promotion spot at various points while Forest Green were running away with the league, and while Bristol Rovers at 4/1 aren’t yet out of the running, it looks like it’s between Northampton (1/1) and Vale (9/4).
Around mid-December, on a four-game winning run, the Cobblers were Evens for promotion, but following that with four games without a win saw them drift to 10/3.
After the 0-0 draw with Bradford, Jon Brady’s side were 12/1 to go up automatically and 3/1 for promotion with Port Vale flying high with five straight wins, but two wins over Easter, while Vale faltered, saw them cut to 4/1, and they’re now Evens to finish in the top three.
The Valiants have Newport at home and Exeter away to finish the season, while Northampton have Exeter at home and Barrow away, knowing two wins will secure their place in League One.
By Steve Freeth