With another massive twist in the Premier League relegation battle and Serie A having a new title favourite, we’re looking at some of the week’s biggest Market Movers.
The objective for Nottingham Forest is quite simple: win two games and you’re promoted automatically (barring a big goal difference swing on the final day). The turnaround under Steve Cooper has been well documented but it really is remarkable.
One point from their opening seven games under Chris Hughton left Cooper with a huge job on his hands, and how the decision makers at Forest must be wondering what might have been had they made the switch a couple of weeks earlier.
They were 12/1 for the top six after sacking Hughton, into 7/2 in mid-December. Such was the form of Fulham and Bournemouth, automatic promotion looked to be a step too far, and was as big as 100/1 in the new year after back-to-back defeats to Middlesbrough and Huddersfield, with promotion priced at 25/1.
But their form since has been exemplary, and promotion is now odds-on at 4/5. Beat Bournemouth on Tuesday night and they’ll be in the top two with one game to play. They’re 12/5 to win that game, and 9/4 to finish in the top two.
Well, well, well. Hands up if you had Everton down for a home win on Sunday. So much has been made of their run-in, but with Goodison Park as raucous as it was, they’ll make it hard for any visiting side. Yes, they needed some heroics from Jordan Pickford, but it’s hard to argue they weren’t good value for the win, which suddenly plunders Leeds into real trouble.
Despite wins against Norwich, Wolves and Watford, Leeds are the shortest price of them, Burnley and Everton at 11/8 to go down.
Overall, Leeds’s form under Jesse Marsch has actually been solid, taking 11 points from eight games – steady mid-table form – but they’ve gone from 13/8 to go down after sacking Marcelo Bielsa to 11/8 now, both much shorter than the 12/1 quoted in pre-season, largely as a result of the form of Burnley and Everton.
The win at Watford, followed by Burnley’s defeat at Norwich the day after, saw them out to 8/1 for relegation, and despite not playing, they were 10/1 shots after Burnley drew 1-1 with West Ham just two weeks ago, with the Whites eight points above the drop zone.
They were into 6/1 after the Clarets’ 2-0 win over Southampton – but into 3/1 when Burnley beat Wolves and 11/8 after this weekend with two tough games against Arsenal and Chelsea coming up
Under Bielsa, the Whites were averaging the most tackles per game in the Premier League, which has actually risen under Marsch. For context, the average Premier League side attempts around 18 tackles per game – for Leeds, against Manchester City that number was 32, against Crystal Palace it was 33, and against Watford, it was an incredible 45. There’s no doubting the side’s desire, and we’ll find out over the next few weeks whether it’s enough to keep them up.
Serie A has a new favourite for the title. All credit to Milan, they’ve been hot on Inter’s tails all season, and with the champions dropping points in their game in hand to Bologna in midweek, Milan are now two points clear having played the same games and are 4/6 to win Serie A.
Go back to January and Inter were looking unstoppable – from 4/1 in pre-season, they were 1/4 at the halfway stage.
Milan, 12/1 in pre-season, were cut to 5/1 after winning their opening three games, but dropped points to Udinese and Napoli in December had them back out to double figures while Inter were in the middle of their eight-game winning run. Stefano Piolo’s side were still as big as 4/1 in mid-March while two points ahead of their rivals having played a game more.
You have to rewind to 2010/11 for the last time Milan won the Scudetto – the same season Tottenham went to the San Siro and Peter Crouch scored that famous late winner – and they’re a maximum of three wins away from a 19th league title – tying rivals Inter no less.
By Steve Freeth