Race to the Premier League Heats Up in Final Leg

Premier League: Top Four Race Heats Up As Man United Battle Chelsea In Titanic Clash At Old Trafford

The Championship season has almost reached its conclusion, with the top of the table being remarkably close. Not only has the league had two legitimate contenders for the crown, but playoff positions could be claimed by as many as six different teams coming into the 46th and final match of the season.

So, where do all of the teams stand, and which clubs look to be the best positioned for Premier League football next season?

Given the ‘favorites’ label for a reason

Over the course of the campaign, Fulham has been excellent and certainly proving that they earned the favorites tag in the Championship outright predictions at the start of the campaign. Fellow frontrunners West Bromwich Albion failed to keep up through a turbulent middle to the season and slow comeback under late appointment Steve Bruce.

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Still, Fulham has all but done the job. With both teams having two games left, Fulham sat at 1/200 to win the league, and AFC Bournemouth was out at 33/1 in the English Championship betting odds. Of course, there’s much more than just the two top spots that grant passage to the top tier of English football. With Nottingham Forest also having two games to go, they could close the three-point lead on the Cherries.

In the promotion markets, though, Forest leads the charge at 10/11 among playoff hopefuls – behind Fulham and Bournemouth – with Sheffield United the next in line at 13/5. After those, it’s the 4/1 Huddersfield, 9/2 Luton, 9/1 Middlesbrough, and 500/1 Millwall. As we’ve seen in the past, outright odds can mean very little in the playoffs, with the two-matches-to-win-it-all format giving some teams an additional pep and bite.

An undeniably dominant campaign from Fulham

If there’s one player who everyone will point to as the catalyst for Fulham’s promotion back to the Premier League, it has to be Aleksandar Mitrović. The 27-year-old Serbian could only muster three goals in 27 top-flight games for a floundering Fulham last season, but in 21/22, he switched on the afterburners, bullying his way to 41 goals and seven assists in 42 Championship matches and the Player of the Season award.

Harry Wilson and Antonee Robinson have also been top-notch this season, more than outplaying their positional peers per WhoScored. For Bournemouth, like Fulham, it’s been a case of the striker leading the charge, with Dominic Solanke scoring 29 goals in 44 games. Just behind him on the park, Danish playmaker Philip Billing put up ten goals and eight assists in 38 games to date.

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Among promotion hopefuls, Forest look to have the most stacked team with plenty of momentum. The lies of James Garner, Brennan Johnson, and Ryan Yates have been wonderfully consistent, particularly since the turn into 2022. Still, it’s Huddersfield that may have the ace up their sleeve, boasting perhaps the top-performing goalkeeper of the season, Lee Nicholls. When goalie is on form, they can be the ones to take a team to the Premier League.

It’s cliché, but anything can happen in the playoffs. Those in the top two spots don’t have to suffer the nail-biting experience of a trip to Wembley Stadium, but those who do get to prove themselves once again.

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