The lowdown on the automatic promotion race and Leeds United's run in compared to top-seven rivals

WITH seven teams breaking away at the top of the Championship and ultimately dreaming of a top-two finish, the YEP's Lee Sobot takes a look at the top seven's remaining fixtures and ranks who has the hardest run-in, taking into account opposition league rankings.

Sunday, 17th February 2019, 4:37 pm
Updated Sunday, 17th February 2019, 7:37 pm
UP TOGETHER?: Leeds United's Barry Douglas and Norwich City's Teemu Pukki lock horns in this month's clash at Elland Road. The two sides have the best run-ins of the top seven on paper and will occupy the top two positions if Leeds win their game in hand.

The total ranking of each team's opponents are added up and divided by the number of games which that particular promotion contender has left to play - giving an average league position of each side's remaining opponents.

We also then list each team's fixtures, league position and odds and therein provide some sort of lowdown.

7, Hardest run in - Bristol City

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Average position of remaining opponents: 11th (10.87 to be precise)

Accumulative placings of remaining opponents: 163

Number of games left: 15 (163 divided by 15 equals 10.87)

League position: 6th

Points: 53

FIXTURES:

Norwich City - 1st in division - away

Birmingham City - 9th - home

Preston North End - 11th - a

Leeds United - 3rd - h

Ipswich Town - 24th - h

Millwall - 20th - a

Sheffield United - 2nd - a

Middlesbrough - 5th - a

Wigan Athletic - 19th - h

West Brom - 4th - h

Aston Villa - 10th - a

Reading - 21st - h

Sheffield Wednesday - 15th - a

Derby County - 7th - h

Hull City - 12th - a

The lowdown: Lee Johnson's side are threatening to gatecrash the automatic promotion race following six league wins in succession but the Robins will do well to replicate anything like that given their run in. Norwich away is next with Leeds at home, Sheffield United away, Middlesbrough away, West Brom at home and Derby at home also all on the agenda and a trip to Hull City on the final day. The Robins are the only side in the top seven with the enitire other top six to play. Fair play if they can maintain recent progress given that schedule.

Title odds: 66-1Top two finish: 20-1

***

6, Sixth-best run in - Sheffield United

Average position of remaining opponents: 13th (12.85)

Accumulative placings of remaining opponents: 167

Number of games left: 13

League position: 2nd

Points: 61

FIXTURES:

West Brom - 4th - a

Sheffield Wednesday - 15th - a

Rotherham United - 22nd - h

Brentford - 16th - h

Leeds United - 3rd - a

Bristol City - 6th - h

Preston North End - 11th - a

Birmingham City - 9th - a

Millwall - 20th - h

Nottingham Forest - 8th - h

Hull City - 12th - a

Ipswich Town - 24th - h

Stoke City - 17th - a

The lowdown: An undeniably tough run-in and two huge assignments next on the agenda with West Brom away next weekend followed by the Steel City derby at Hillsborough. After a home clash against Brentford, the eagerly-awaited date at Elland Road is next, followed by a home clash against Bristol City and even thereafter trips to Preston and Birmingham could be tricky. But the Blades are refusing to go away and Chris Wilder's side presently look the biggest dangers to Leeds and Norwich.

Title odds: 4-1Top two finish: 11-8

***

5, Fifth best run in - West Brom

Average position of remaining opponents: 13th (13.14)

Accumulative placings of remaining opponents: 184

Number of games left: 14

League position: 4th

Points: 57

FIXTURES:

QPR - 18th - a

Sheffield United - 2nd - h

Leeds United - 3rd - a

Ipswich Town - 24th - h

Swansea City - 13th - h

Brentford - 16th - a

Birmingham City - 9th - h

Millwall - 20th - a

Bristol City - 6th - a

Preston North End - 11th - h

Hull City - 12th - h

Reading - 21st - a

Rotherham United -22nd - h

Derby County - 7th - a

A tough looking run-in for the Baggies who need to be winning their game in hand at QPR on Tuesday - and probably will - with a home clash against Sheffield United followed by the trip to Leeds next on the agenda. The outcome of those two encounters could make or break the Baggies who also have to visit Bristol City and welcome Derby on the final day. Hard to predict but free-scoring and undeniably dangerous.

Title odds: 8-1Top-two finish: 11-4

***

4, Fourth best run in- Middlesbrough

Average position of remaining opponents: 14th (14.07)

Accumulative placings of remaining opponents: 197

Number of games left: 14

League position: 5th

Points: 54

FIXTURES:

QPR - 18th - h

Wigan Athletic - 19th - a

Brentford - 16th - h

Preston North End - 11th - h

Aston Villa - 10th - a

Norwich City - 1st - h

Bristol City - 6th - h

Swansea City - 13th - a

Bolton Wanderers - 23rd - a

Hull City - 12th - h

Stoke City - 17th - h

Nottingham Forest - 8th - a

Reading - 21st - h

Rotherham United - 22nd - a

Similar to Derby in still having work to do from their current position to enter the top two race, even in spite of Sunday's 1-0 win at Blackburn Rovers which still leaves the Riversiders seven points behind Leeds on the same number of games. But it's not a bad run in with the back to back home games against Norwich City and Bristol City at the end of March/early April the two stand outs. Other than that, plenty of mid-table sides to play.

Title odds: 55-1Top-two finish: 10-1

***

3, Third best run in - Leeds United

Average position of remaining opponents: 14th (14.14)

Accumulative placings of remaining opponents: 198

Number of games left: 14

League position: 3rd

Points: 61

FIXTURES:

Bolton Wanderers - 23rd - h

QPR - 18th - a

West Brom - 4th - h

Bristol City - 6th - a

Reading - 21st - a

Sheffield United - 2nd - h

Millwall - 20th - h

Birmingham City - 9th - a

Preston North End - 11th - a

Sheffield Wednesday - 15th - h

Wigan Athletic - 19th - h

Brentford - 16th - a

Aston Villa - 10th - h

Ipswich Town - 24th - a

The third best run-in of the top seven on paper but victories from the next two games at home to Bolton and away at QPR look essential given what comes up next - West Brom at home, Bristol City away and Sheffield United at home, with Reading away sandwiched in between. Unquestionably crunch time. Ideally win those but above all don't get beat. Navigate that period succesfuly and Leeds could be in business with a trip to League One bound Ipswich Town on the final day. But Villa, Millwall and Sheffield Wednesday at home are also likely to be spicy, a comment that also applies to the trip to Garry Monk's Birmingham City. Kemar Roofe's injury also has to be a concern but overall United are quite clearly looking at their best chance yet of a return to the Premier League with 14 cup finals to go. Every chance of going up without the play-offs.

Title odds: 7-4 (favourites)Top-two finish: 8-13

***

2, Second best run in - Derby County

Average position of remaining opponents: 14th (14.27)

Accumulative placings of remaining opponents: 214

Number of games left: 15

League position: 7th

Points: 51

FIXTURES:

Millwall - 20th - h

Nottingham Forest - 8th - a

Aston Villa - 10th - a

Wigan Athletic - 19th - h

Sheffield Wednesday - 15th - h

Stoke City - 17th - h

Swansea City - 13th - a

Rotherham United - 22nd - h

Brentford - 16th - a

Blackburn Rovers - 14th - a

Bolton Wanderers - 23rd - h

Birmingham City - 9th - a

QPR - 18th - h

Bristol City - 6th - a

West Brom - 4th - h

A relatively kind run in but Derby would still be seven points behind Leeds even if winning their game in hand at home to Millwall on Wednesday and Frank Lampard's side finish the season with a trip to Bristol City followed by a home clash against West Brom. Forest away could also be tough. Will probably finish strong but probably too late for an automatic promotion place.

Title odds: 80-1Top-two finish: 25-1

***

1, Best run in - Norwich City

Average position of remaining opponents: 15th (14.77)

Accumulative placings of remaining opponents: 192

Number of games left: 13 (so 192 divided by 13 for average position of remaining opponents)

League position: 1st

Points: 63

FIXTURES:

Bristol City - 6th - h

Millwall - 20th - a

Swansea City - 13th - h

Hull City - 12th - h

Rotherham United - 22nd - a

Middlesbrough - 5th - a

QPR - 18th - h

Reading - 21st - h

Wigan Athletic - 19th - a

Sheffield Wednesday - 15th - h

Stoke City - 17th - a

Blackburn Rovers - 14th - h

Aston Villa - 10th - a

The 'easiest' run-in on paper of the top seven with next weekend's hosting of Bristol City and the end of March trip to Middlesbrough standing out as the two most difficult games. Likely to amass a big haul over their remaining 13 matches and should probably be favourites to win the league. Villa away on the final day.

Title odds: 2-1 (second favourites)Top-two finish: 2-3