West Ham are now at even money to win the Championship title after their crucial victory over Cardiff City on Sunday.
Goals from Kevin Nolan, on his return from a three-match ban, and George McCartney gave the Hammers an impressive 2-0 success against the Carling Cup finalists in south Wales.
Sam Allardyce’s men will now look to further cement their title credentials in the coming week, with winnable home games against Watford and Doncaster on the horizon.
However, the east London club remain second in the table, one point behind Southampton, although they also have a game in hand.
The Saints have recovered well from their mid-season wobble and held on to top spot as a Rickie Lambert strike gave them a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Leeds at Elland Road on Saturday.
Nigel Adkins’ men can be backed at 8/5 to win the title, which would be a remarkable achievement in their first season back in England’s second tier following promotion.
Meanwhile, Reading are doggedly clinging to the coat-tails of the top two and their impressive 2-1 triumph at Middlesbrough suggests it could be a three-horse race for the line.
The Royals had a slow start to the season but six straight victories have lifted them into third place and they are just five points adrift of the Saints, also with a game in hand.
With boss Brian McDermott having recently spurned the advances of Wolves and signed a new contract, the Berkshire club look decent value at 11/2 to win the Championship title.
But the smart money must surely be on the Hammers, whose superior squad depth could be the deciding factor when the honours are being handed out come May.
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