At the top, Newcastle are dead certs in the promotion market. Five consecutive wins in October indicate to me that they are far stronger than I’d expected and they also compare favourably to their predecessors that ran away with the competition a few seasons ago. However, last month’s second favourites Norwich have seen their odds lengthen since the start of last month: their away form in particular has not been good enough for a serious promotion contender and their defence on the road is clearly a major issue:
Norwich’s misfortune has been Brighton‘s gain. Albion’s nine game undefeated streak is a sure sign that they need to be taken seriously once again and this weekend they face an interesting clash at the only other team that’s seen their odds for promotion shorten both over the last month and since the season began…
Game of the week: Bristol City v Brighton (tomorrow, Sky Sports 1, 5:30pm)
A televised clash between two top six sides looks like one to savour, but if you’re expecting loads of goals I’d beware. Albion won 4-0 at Ashton Gate last season but that was the first time there’d been more than one goal in a league encounter in Bristol since August 1991 and the revamped City side under Lee Johnson is an entirely different proposition. Six of the last seven meetings in BS3 have ended with one goal or less and City have only won one of those, just over a decade ago. If you take into consideration that so far this season only four of the ten games between the current top six have seen both teams score and exactly half of those games have ended with more than two goals, this looks a very tight game.
Back to the markets again and at the bottom, it’s still a case of who’s going down with Rotherham and possibly Blackburn. Preston are now expected to remain clear of danger, but both Barnsley and Nottingham Forest have seen their prices for relegation shorten. I think the bookies have been a bit harsh with the Tykes: they ended their six game streak without a win with a surprise victory at Brentford before snatching a last minute equaliser against Bristol City at Oakwell last weekend. On the other hand, I picked Forest to struggle before the season started and they’ve only won once since the start of September: if they continue in that form, Phillipe Montanier will be out of a job before Christmas.
There are a couple of runners up for the game of the week, but Cardiff haven’t won at Newcastle since John F. Kennedy was still alive and Reading haven’t won at Wigan since George W. Bush was midway through his first term in the White House.
As there’s another bloody international break next weekend, I’ll see you all in a fortnight, unless there’s another round of managerial departures…