Reading are 17/4 long shots to finish their unsuccessful year-long stint in the Premier League with a win at West Ham on Sunday and recent history is certainly on the Royals’ side.
The Berkshire club have won each of their last three encounters with the Hammers, including the first meeting between the sides this season just after Christmas, when Pavel Pogrebnyak scored the only goal at the Madejski Stadium.
Reading’s form also seems to have picked up after their relegation was confirmed, with a 4-2 win at Fulham – only their second away success of the season – followed by a decent showing in a 2-0 loss to Manchester City in midweek.
Some of this upturn must be down to new manager Nigel Adkins. In fielding an identical starting line-up for two successive matches, he clearly now has a first-choice eleven in mind.
The need for players to impress to stay in Adkins’ plans for next season may also be a factor – and that is what leads me to believe Reading can burst a few bubbles at West Ham’s end-of-season party.
West Ham are 3/5 to win with a draw priced 14/5, but new customers placing their free £20 bet on the Royals to prevail would pocket winnings of £110 if successful.
While the Hammers arguably have more reason to take their foot off the gas, in-form front man Andy Carroll has extra motivation to shine as speculation about whether he can seal a permanent move to Upton Park mounts.
The on-loan Liverpool striker has scored five goals in his last ten appearances for Sam Allardyce’s men and is 17/4 to net first on Sunday (5/4 to notch at any time).
But whoever picks up the win, there will be plenty of fans hoping for some entertainment at the very least before the summer break.
Visitors Reading can oblige on this front, too, as they have taken part in more second halves with over 2.5 goals (13) this season than any other team in the Premier League.
Odds of 3/1 are available for the teams to end their seasons with a second half that sees three or more strikes, but the preference is for the straight Reading win at 9/2.