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Saturday, 18 August 2012

Southampton and Reading favourites to go straight down but market is tight


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Last season saw a strong performance from the the three promoted clubs which consigned Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers and Wolves to the drop. But this season  the bookmakers are not expecting the same collective result from Reading, Southampton and West Ham.

The layers appear to have faith in Sam Allardyce's ability to produce a side able to grind out results, but see the teams who finished above them in last season's Championship making an immediate return to the second tier.

However, the odds pattern isn't consistent across the firms. Some have Southampton favourites, others have Reading first in the firing line. And all of them make it a very close contest with Norwich City, Swansea City and Wigan all taking close order. With some firms the Canaries are even the favourites to take the drop.

It takes a brave man to bet against serial escapers Wigan with eight consecutive seasons chalked up in the top flight. The key to the Latics's success is unpredictability - though they have dire spells they also have the ability to produce stunning wins and boss Roberto Martinez sticks to a progressive playing style.

West Bromwich Albion are expected to have a tougher campaign under Steve Clarke but clearly the firms think there's enough in the Hawthorns squad to stay outside the bottom three.

QPR, Stoke and Aston Villa are all expected to stay in the division but their prices reflect a feeling that any of them could slide into trouble if they get off to a bad start.

Reading                                    11/10

Southampton                           5/4

Norwich City                             6/4

Wigan                                      13/8

Swansea City                           2/1

West Ham                                9/4

West Brom                              10/3

QPR                                         4/1

Stoke City                               11/2

Aston Villa                                7/1

Prices from Ladbrokes

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Hugh Larkin

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