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Reading are now the 6/5 (2.20) favourites to finish bottom of the Premier League after Monday night’s 3-0 defeat at Sunderland.
The Royals are six points off perennial relegation candidates Wigan with nine points, just two ahead of Harry Redknapp’s QPR who are 9/4 (3.20) to finish last and have yet to win a league game this season.
The feeling is that Redknapp will get Tony Fernandes’ chequebook out come the January transfer window and although that didn’t do previous manager Mark Hughes much good, it might at least lift the R’s off the foot of the table come judgement day.
Brian McDermott is unlikely to be afforded the same luxury by his boss Anton Zingarevich and the rumours persist that Dick Advocaat might be prised from PSV to attempt a Houdini act with the Premier League new boys should results continue to disappoint.
This weekend is unlikely to offer either side much respite although QPR – on paper at least - are in with a better chance of picking up some points against London rivals Fulham.
Reading – the first side in the division to lose five successive games - host an Arsenal side in desperate need of three points themselves.
With a six-point gap to 18th-placed Wigan, who are 12/1 (13.0) to finish bottom but just 2/1 (3.0) to be relegated, all known form points to the bottom two clubs staying that way – although the order may change as the season progresses.
Roberto Martinez’s side travel to Carrow Road to face Norwich on Saturday and are level on points with Aston Villa and Southampton – who are 11/4 (2.80) and 11/10 (2.10) respectively to go down.
The Canaries were many people’s idea of relegation candidates after their 5-0 hammering by Fulham on the opening day of the season but are now perched on 22 points and boasting some pretty impressive form – particularly at home where they've taken maximum points from games against Arsenal and Manchester United in recent weeks.
Paul Lambert wasn’t given the warmest of welcomes when Villa hammered his old club 4-1 in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday night, but he would no doubt like to have the extra seven league points in the bag that Chris Hughton’s side have ahead of the frantic fixture list over Christmas.
The games will come thick and fast over the next three weeks and it could either make or break the sides who are trying to claw their way out of the danger zone.
Sunderland fans will hope that their second league win of the season against Reading will have given them some momentum but their next five games involve an away trip to Old Trafford on Saturday, Southampton away, Man City at home, Spurs at home and Liverpool away to start the New Year.
The 18/1 (19.0) on them finishing bottom looks a long shot but with fixtures like this to contend with the 11/4 (2.80) about Martin O’Neill’s side going down might be a lot shorter in a month’s time.
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Jim Knight is Betting Editor at Goal.com and has been tipping football games since he was old enough to place a bet. He is a Leicester City fan, writer and member of the We Are Going Up Podcast
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