Wigan may have started their trademark Premier League relegation escape after they comprehensively defeated Reading 3-0 to move out of the drop zone.
Two goals from Latics striker Arouna Kone and one from defender Maynor Figueroa saw Roberto Martinez’s side leave the Madejski Stadium with all three points, and move out to evens to be relegated by the end of the season.
The Royals, who saw Russian frontman Pavel Pogrebnyak sent off for a wild challenge in the second half, are now odds-on at 1/5 to return to the Championship, despite winning four of their last eight league games.
Brian McDermott’s side arguably lack the quality necessary to stay in the top flight, and their spell of victories looks to be over after back-to-back Premier League defeats.
Another club who look destined to be playing in the second tier next season is QPR, who have struggled to pick up three points in recent matches even if the arrival of manager Harry Redknapp has made the West London outfit harder to beat.
But Manchester United had no trouble doing so at Loftus Road during their 2-0 away victory, and the R’s are now heavy favourites to be relegated at 1/11, currently sitting rock bottom and seven points from Wigan in the safe position of 17th.
If anyone can guide them to safety it’s Redknapp, but with every passing week the task to do so become ever more improbable.
The third side that make up the favourites for the drop is Aston Villa, who have endured a wretched season under new boss Paul Lambert.
The Scot enjoyed a growing reputation in the game after leading Norwich City to back-to-back promotions from League One to the Premier League and then to stay in the divisions over his three-year Carrow Road tenure.
But Lambert is threatening to undo all his good work with the Canaries by relegating former European challengers Villa, who are now ominously priced at 8/11 to go down.
With Southampton out at 13/2 to be relegated, and West Ham, Sunderland and Newcastle marked as 14/1 chances with Norwich an 18/1 bet, it appears that there are just four serious candidates to see the back of the top flight next season.
And with Wigan’s 3-0 away win this weekend perhaps the spark of their trademark ‘great escape’ that has been a regular marvel of recent campaigns, it seems that QPR, Reading and Aston Villa are to face the drop.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.