Forest to relegate Bolton: EFL Championship final day best bets
It’s the final day of the EFL Championship 2017/18 season! There is plenty still to play for at the top and bottom, and using expected goals (xG) our Analyst has selected the four best bets across the 12 fixtures.
All matches 12:30 kick offs
Birmingham vs Fulham
After a good run of form which pulled the Blues away from the drop-zone, one win in five means that there is still a possibility of Garry Monk’s side being relegated. A deserved 3-1 defeat to QPR last time out (xG: QPR 3.1 – 1.9 BIR) leaves them two points above the relegation zone, but with just a 2% chance of going down, according to Infogol.
With their superior goal difference over the teams currently occupying the relegation places, a point would be good enough to see them survive. They have been defensively solid of late, conceding fewer than 0.5 xG in five of their last eight matches, so may be tough to break down in a game from which they need a point.
Fulham’s ridiculous run continued with a 2-1 win over Sunderland, taking their unbeaten run to a staggering 23 matches. They have won 18 of those games, but still find themselves needing to win this game and hope for a Cardiff slip-up if they are to gain automatic promotion, with Infogol calculating just an 18% chance of this happening.
The rate at which they have been creating high-quality chances has dipped of late, but their defensive resolution remains, conceding an average of 0.6 xG per game in their last five. With the two teams needing a result and both having a good defensive process, few goals can be expected at St Andrews.
Selection – Under 2.5 goals @ 11/10
EFL Championship % chance finishing position: Promotion and Play-offs
Bolton vs Nottingham Forest
A run of six defeats and one draw threatens to un-do all the good work Bolton did after such a slow start. They now find themselves back in the bottom three and face relegation with anything less than a win here.
A deserved 2-0 defeat at fellow strugglers Burton last time out was yet another game in which they failed to create any decent chances of note (xG: BUR 2.1 – 0.6 BOL), and means they haven’t scored in five of their last six games. Something has got to give if they are to survive, with Infogol calculating that they have just a 22% chance of doing so.
They face a Nottingham Forest side that aren’t playing for anything heading into the final game, but based on their recent performances, they are looking to finish the season as strong as possible. A 0-0 draw with Bristol City was an unfair result, as Aitor Karanka’s side were far superior (xG: FOR 2.6 – 0.3 BRC).
In fact, their process, both in attack and defence, has improved as the season has gone on, with the them averaging 1.7 xG per game in their last seven matches. So, while this may appear on paper to be a good opponent for Bolton to face when needing a win, that might not be the case.
With the ‘need’ for a win potentially driving the prices, it’s safe to say that at any other point in the season Bolton wouldn’t be odds-on, a huge 4/1 for Forest to win looks by far the best bet.
Selection – Forest win @ 4/1
EFL Championship % chance finishing position: Relegation
Bristol City vs Sheffield United
These two sides have seen their play-off chances come to and end in the last few weeks of the season, so the question ahead of this game is, how will both sides approach this game?
Bristol City’s season on paper has been an excellent one, with a good league campaign coupled with a great cup run seeing them catch the eye of many. However, they will be disappointed not to have finished in a play-off spot, having had a place in there for so long.
Four wins in their last 21 matches has seen them fall away, and deservedly so according to Infogol’s expected goals table, with them only being the 12th best team in the league. They rode their luck against Forest last time out and were fortunate to come away with a point (xG: FOR 2.6 – 0.3 BRC), but a much better performance is expected in-front of their home fans.
Sheffield United’s 1-0 home defeat to Preston ended their play-off hopes and like Bristol City, will probably feel disappointed not to have finished in the top-six having occupied a place for most of the season.
Unlike Bristol City though, they can count themselves unlucky not to be in there, as based on performances this season, they have been the fourth best team in the league. Chris Wilder’s side have the best defence in the division this season, according to xG (39.2) and this is expected to continue, making this game a low-scoring one.
Selection – Under 2.5 goals @ 1/1
Infogol's EFL Championship Expected Goals (xG) table
Sunderland vs Wolves
Sunderland’s miserable season finally comes to an end in front of their own fans, with them having to adjust to the thought of life in League 1. A deserved 2-1 defeat to Fulham last time out wasn’t their worst performance (xG: FUL 1.3 – 0.3 SUN), but showcased the struggles they have had all season in creating chances and scoring goals.
According to Infogol’s expected table, they haven’t been the worst team in the league this season, so the actual table has lied in that case. Chris Coleman was relieved of his duties in midweek, and the last team that a side already relegated and without a manager would want to face are the Champions.
Wolves have been a class above this season, and deservedly won the league at a canter. They go to the Stadium of Light looking to break the 100-point mark, and while they only need a point to do so, you can’t help but think this Wolves team will be going there to win.
They were unfortunate not to beat Sheffield Wednesday last time out in another game which they created a host of chances (xG: WOL 1.9 – 0.2 SHW). Averaging 1.7 xG per game this season, you can expect Wolves to score here, but the value looks to be backing Sunderland not to, with both teams to score ‘no’ a good price at 11/10.
Selection – BTTS ‘no’ @ 11/10