Days after Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore predicted one of the closest ever relegation battles, the latest three additions to the Championship appear to be known with a week to spare.
Fulham and Cardiff’s demotions have been confirmed, while Norwich pray for a result combination that sees them defeat Arsenal as Sunderland lose at home to West Brom and Swansea to avoid following them.
The unlikelihood of all the stars aligning for the Canaries is portrayed by their 1/100 price to go down compared to Sunderland’s 25/1.
Then again, is it any more ridiculous than the Black Cats snatching seven points from three horrible trips to top-seven sides, as they have done to plunge the East Anglians into this predicament?
Any new bwin.com customers brave enough to use the £30 free bet that they receive upon signing up to back Sunderland for the drop put themselves in contention for a £750 jackpot.
Here are three ingredients in a recipe that could keep Neil Adams’ squad in the Premier League…
Norwich to deliver another Carrow Road defensive masterclass
If the table was determined by goals conceded per home fixture rather than points, Norwich would be fighting with Stoke for the final Champions League place rather than fearing the Championship.
They have given up 16 goals in their 18 Carrow Road clashes – keeping eight clean sheets, holding Manchester City and Everton and beating Tottenham – and saw Arsenal off 1-0 there last term.
It is 12/5 that they overcome the Gunners.
Sunderland to continue struggling against bottom-half rivals
Gus Poyet’s men excel in big matches when cast as underdogs, taking four points off Manchester City, winning at Chelsea and Everton and doing the double over Newcastle, but not so much when they are expected to prevail.
Their 4-0 victory over Cardiff, in which the visitors were reduced to ten men in the first half, was their first when hosting a bottom-half companion in 2013/14, while they won just one such game away too.
An overall record against those 11th or lower of P16 W2 D5 L9 is the worst in the division.
Mel and Monk to scrap for a second season
West Brom – barring a goal difference miracle – and Swansea might be safe, yet there is plenty to play for as head coaches Pepe Mel and Garry Monk bid to convince their clubs that they deserve to be in charge come August.
One yardstick is to equal or better the inherited position when they first stepped into the dugout (14th in Mel’s case, 12th in Monk’s), and that goal won’t be achieved if they both lose to Sunderland.
Both are in the best form of their reigns: West Brom have won three in eight in contrast to one in 18 prior to that and Swansea have claimed three triumphs in six.