10 outright bets for the EFL run-in
With 10 games to go across most divisions, the run-in is officially upon us. Here are 10 things that could still happen this season in the EFL.
Leeds (or West Brom) fall apart, again
It would take some collapse from either Leeds or West Brom – who are five and six points respectively above third-placed Fulham – to miss out on the top two.
But recent history suggests that it’s possible.
Leeds, after all, led the Championship with nine games to go last season, but dropped into the play-offs after winning just three of them.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side have just endured another slump, winning just twice in 12 games between December and February.
West Brom, meanwhile, had their own seven-game winless run during that time and were recently beaten 1-0 at home to relegation-threatened Wigan.
Millwall face Leeds in the play-off semi-final
This one requires a couple of moving parts. But it is possible and would be tasty.
If Leeds do fail to finish in the automatic promotion spots, they are unlikely to drop any lower than third.
The Whites have an eight-point buffer to fourth-placed Nottingham Forest, who have won one of their last five matches.
Assuming that happens, they will face the sixth-placed team in the play-offs – the best Millwall can hope for.
Gary Rowett’s side are five points behind sixth-placed Preston and play seven bottom-half sides in their final 10 matches, including five of the bottom eight.
Hull go down
Hull are hurtling towards League One at some pace.
They have picked up just two points in their 10 league games since beating Sheffield Wednesday on New Year’s Day – at least three fewer than any other side in the Championship.
The Tigers have fallen from eighth to 18th and three points above the bottom three in that period.
With four of the bottom six still to play in their final 10 games, a continuation of that form will surely see them relegated.
Barnsley save themselves
This tip would have looked ridiculous three months ago.
Barnsley were bottom of the league, seven points from safety and had won just two of their opening 21 matches.
That was before a run of three victories in four matches narrowed the gap to five points.
But this is based more on form of the teams around Barnsley. In short, it isn’t good.
Charlton, Hull and Middlesbrough are all within three points of the relegation zone. They are also all in the bottom five of the form table, with the latter two having taken fewer points than any other Championship sides over the last 10 matches.
Portsmouth sneak into the top two
This is simple.
No side in League One has earned more points than Portsmouth (25) since the turn of the year.
Kenny Jackett’s side have won eight of their last 10 to go third, three points off second-placed Rotherham. They also still have to face the Millers to during the run-in and have a game in hand on them.
Wycombe’s play-off push runs out of steam
Wycombe have been this season’s surprise promotion contender.
The Chairboys have been in the play-off places for the entire campaign, and even occupied an automatic spot between October and February.
But a run of just five victories in their last 14 matches – three of which were against sides currently in the bottom four – have left them just two points above seventh.
Gareth Ainsworth’s side have the best home record in the division but, crucially, play six of their final 10 matches on the road.
Southend hit rock bottom
To say that this season has been one to forget for Southend is a massive understatement.
Sol Campbell’s side are second-bottom of League One, 17 points from safety and have won three of their 34 games all season.
They are also currently under a transfer embargo, while reports have emerged that the squad are yet to receive their wages for February.
Just four points separate the Shrimpers with bottom-of-the-league Bolton, who were docked 12 points at the start of the season.
For context, Bolton would only be one place higher without a deduction.
Southend must face them before the end of the season and, having played two extra matches, it’s possible their campaign has one more embarrassing twist and they finish bottom.
Cheltenham win League Two
Cheltenham have taken 26 points from their last 12 league games – two more than any other side in League Two and three more than current leaders Swindon.
There is currently a three-point gap between themselves and second place, though Michael Duff’s side have a game in hand on the majority of the league, while they are six points off top spot.
The Robins also travel to Swindon on Good Friday with four games remaining for what could turn out to be a title decider.
Carry on their current form and their price to lift the trophy will plummet.
Northampton miss out on top seven
Sixth-placed Northampton are losing it at the worst point of the season.
Keith Curle’s side have lost four of their last six league games – their worst run of defeats during 2019/20 – including against three of the top seven.
That run has left them three points above eighth-placed Colchester and four above ninth-placed Bradford, both of whom they have to face before the end of the season.
It’s easy to see how their season goes south from here and, at odds against, it’s worth backing it to do so.
Stevenage avoid the drop
Crucially, this requires Stevenage to start picking up points from somewhere and, as their seven-game losing streak suggests, it isn’t obvious where they will come from.
With an eight-point gap to make up to second-bottom Macclesfield, that isn’t ideal.
But Boro are helped by the fact that Macclesfield, who have managed just two points in their last eight games, are just as hopeless as they are.
Added to which, there is a possibility of another points deduction lingering for the Silkmen, who have failed to pay their players on four occasions this season, on top of the six points they had docked in January.
Stevenage have played a game fewer than Macclesfield and travel to Moss Ross in their third-last game of the season.
So there’s still a chance.