When the winning post comes into view, momentum and experience are invaluable weapons for any side ensconced in a close-fought title battle.
Heading into the middle of March, Championship leaders Burnley are armed with both and should be backed to see off all comers before their price loses appeal.
The second tier often makes a mockery of those trying to predict its outcomes, but there is now a strong body of evidence suggesting Sean Dyche’s men have the minerals to complete one of the trickiest tasks in football.
How it stands – the runners and riders
Burnley are four points clear of long-term Championship favourites Middlesbrough with 10 to play, albeit the free-spending Teesside outfit have played a game less.
However, with the opportunity to revenge a 1-0 loss at Boro hands earlier this season still to come at Turf Moor next month, even that loses pivotal status.
Dyche’s charges are 13/10 shots to be crowned champions with Ladbrokes, ahead of Aitor Karanka’s mob at 17/10, while fellow Premier League rejects of last year, Hull, are 11/4 chances, six points in arrears of the leaders after the same amount of games.
Given the way things have been panning out in 2016, the last embers of value in the winners’ market could soon be snuffed out, as Burnley are on the kind of roll that cannot be labelled as a streak any more.
The Lancashire club last lost a league assignment on Boxing Day. Since the turn of the year they’ve collected 2.50 points per game on average.
That is half a point more than Hull have harvested in 2016 and the Tigers would be second in a table constructed purely from results this year.
A 3-2 win at Fulham most recently, having trailed 2-1 at Craven Cottage at the break, saw Burnley claim their 12th point of the last dozen available to them – that is momentum personified.
Experience and squad strength
Aiding their cause greatly are the goals of Andre Gray, who is proving to be a masterstroke signing from Brentford back in the summer.
Gray is now responsible for Burnley’s last three decisive strikes and is four clear in the Championship top goalscorer race. The former Bee has been ably supported by 11-goal Sam Vokes for the most prolific side in the division.
Retaining the backbone of the team who ensured a valiant tilt at Premier League survival has been key, but shrewd additions by Dyche have rivalled that importance.
That top-flight nous, allied with the experience of gaining automatic promotion two seasons ago, sets Burnley in particularly fine stead for the run in.
Although Leicester couldn’t be caught in 2013/14, the Clarets still won six of their final 10 league matches to leave Derby trailling in third by a full eight points.
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.