With the festive period drawing to a close, the top of the Championship table looks to be taking shape, with the latest set of results proving significant in the race for promotion to the Premier League..
Current leaders Middlesbrough defeated second-placed Derby County 2-0 at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday, opening up a four-point gap while having a game in hand due to their postponed fixture with Blackburn Rovers.
Aitor Karanka’s side have picked up 52 points from 24 matches, a stunning return made all the better as they currently boast a remarkable eight-match streak without conceding a league goal.
According to Sky Bet, the pre-season favourites for promotion are now in such a commanding position that their odds of promotion to the Premier League come the end of the season are as short as 1/10.
In spite of their defeat at the Riverside, Derby remain in second place with 48 points from 25 and after a tricky festive period containing three away games they’ve pocketed a decent seven points.
Paul Clement’s men have finances to strengthen their squad further in January, thus Sky Bet still sees them as favourites to join Boro in the Premier League next season with odds of 4/11.
Hull City are just one point behind Derby, although their lack of form on the road is a worry for the Tigers and that may harm their chances of automatic promotion – odds are available at 10/11.
Brighton & Hove Albion are the next favourites for promotion with odds of 11/4, though after a 20-game unbeaten run they now preside over a six-match winless run and are decimated with injuries.
Burnley and Ipswich Town make up the top six and are placed at 7/2 and 13/2 respectively, but the biggest movers are Sheffield Wednesday as they gradually close in on a playoff place.
The Owls have flirted with the top six for much of the season and currently find themselves in seventh place, two points adrift of Ipswich following a much-needed 1-0 win at Fulham.
Wednesday have built up an exciting squad, and in manager Carlos Carvahal they have a shrewd operator who knows how to get the best out of star players Fernando Forestieri and Barry Bannan.
The Yorkshire outfit are placed at 8/1, although expect those odds to drop as the season draws to its close with Wednesday forever improving and a real dark horse for promotion via the playoffs.