The final day of the 2016-17 Championship season could hardly be more exciting with the title still up for grabs and an almighty three-way scrap to avoid relegation headlining this Sunday.
You could even add the race to secure the final play-off spot into the mix but given the permutations you’d have to say the battle has already been won by Fulham.
Leeds United would have to hope the Cottagers lose to Sheffield Wednesday (plausible) and that they beat already relegated Wigan Athetic (also plausible). However, given the respective goal difference, it would require two 7-0 scorelines for a reverse in league table placings (we probably should still include odds for that…).
So, instead we’re focusing on the scrap between Newcastle United and Brighton & Hove Albion as well as the royal rumble scenario between Blackburn Rovers, Nottingham Forest and Birmingham City.
Here’s how we’re calling it…
Newcastle can pip Brighton to the post
Rafa Bentiez’s Magpies are even-money shots to overhaul 8/11 favourites Brighton and land the Championship trophy.
And with Newcastle hosting Barnsley at St. James’s Park, and the Seagulls away at Aston Villa, we reckon the North East outfit are the value.
They might be a point behind Chris Hughton’s side but Albion have taken their foot off the gas since securing promotion with back-to-back defeats against Norwich City and Bristol City respectively.
Also, the South Coast side drew 1-1 with Villa in their reverse fixture in a match where the visitors could’ve easily taken all three points were it not for the heroics of goalkeeper David Stockdale.
Conversely, Newcastle ran out comfortable 2-0 victors when they faced the Tykes in October.
And at the prices we think it’d be silly not have a punt on the Toon Army finishing the job in style.
Which team will survive?
Right, so here’s what we’re looking at with regards to the drop.
Harry Redknapp’s Birmingham are away at Bristol City. The Blues just need to hope both Blackburn and Forest don’t win and avoid defeat themselves to stay up.
The situation with Rovers and the Reds is a little trickier though.
Both are locked on 48 points but Forest have a better goal difference (a one goal advantage to be precise).
Blackburn travel to face a Brentford side who’ve lost just once in their last eight games.
Meanwhile, Mark Warbuton’s side entertain Ipswich Town.
All they have to do is better Blackburn’s result. If both teams draw, Forest are safe. If both win or lose then Forest must match or better the margin in the Rovers game.
Ultimately, the former Premier League champions could still go down even if they win.
Blackburn are 1/2 to be relegated and the 6/4 outsiders of the trio to stay up.
Forest are 11/4 to go down while Birmingham are understandably priced as the least likely to fall through the trap door at 5/1.
But here’s the rub.
While Blackburn have only won once in their last nine games on the road (v Forest), they’ve also only suffered three defeats in that sequence. So picking up the odd point away from Ewood Park hasn’t been a problem.
On the other hand, Forest have suffered five losses in their last nine in total and have only beaten Ipswich once in their last seven meetings. Admittedly, that sole victory came earlier this season.
Four of those seven clashes have ended in draws though and that leads us neatly into our conclusion.
Blackburn will draw at Brentford (an 11/4 shot) while Forest will be held by Ipswich (16/5), paying out as a 14/1 double.
Which of course means that the latter will stay up by the smallest of margins.
Agree with our assessment?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
And click here for the latest Championship final day odds.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing