EFL

Championship: Brentford's seventh straight win ramps up pressure on West Brom and Leeds

By Sports Desk July 11, 2020

West Brom missed the chance to jump above Leeds United at the top of the Championship as they drew 1-1 at Blackburn, while surging Brentford kept up pressure on the top two.

The race for automatic promotion could go down to the wire, with Brentford's 3-1 win at Derby County the latest statement of intent from the Bees.

Nottingham Forest's play-off slot looks increasingly secure after holding Preston North End 1-1 at Deepdale.

But at the foot of the table it remains anyone's guess as to who will slide into League One, with Hull City and Middlesbrough both beaten at home on Saturday.

BAGGIES FOILED

West Brom looked like jumping ahead of Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds when they went 1-0 up at Ewood Park in the 41st minute, Charlie Austin finding Filip Krovinovic and the Croatian midfielder firing in.

Krovinovic struck the post too; however, Joe Rothwell dragged Rovers level just after the hour and that was how it remained.

The point put West Brom level on 81 points with leaders Leeds, who face Swansea City on Sunday.

Leeds and West Brom have looked like promotion certainties for months, but both may be quietly worrying about the presence of Brentford, now just three points back.

BRENTFORD LOOK THE BEES-NESS

Wayne Rooney's hopes of promotion with Derby County took a severe blow when the Rams lost 3-1 at home to Brentford, who won a seventh straight game and climbed back above Fulham to reach third place.

In a battle of two in-form teams, the Bees came out on top thanks to two goals from Said Benrahma after Ollie Watkins' early opener. Former Manchester United striker Rooney set up Jason Knight to put Derby level midway through the first half, but they were over-run after half-time.

The result left Derby sitting 10th and likely to finish in mid-table, needing a remarkable set of results over the final three rounds of games to reach the top six. Brentford, given their form, will believe they can crash the top two, even with just three games remaining.

Forest, however, will be happy to sit tight in their current fifth-place spot. Lewis Grabban gave them a fifth-minute lead from the penalty spot at Preston, but Jayden Stockley hauled the hosts level on the quarter-hour mark.

CAN TIGERS CLAW THEIR WAY CLEAR?

Hull are in grave danger of relegation after losing 1-0 at home to Millwall, Ryan Leonard with the only goal of the game in just the second minute.

They sit 22nd, two points worse off than Neil Warnock's Middlesbrough, who fell to a 3-1 home loss against Bristol City. Nahki Wells got a double and Jamie Paterson was also on the scoresheet for the visitors, while Britt Assombalonga netted a hollow consolation goal.

Bottom side Barnsley drew 0-0 at Oakwell with a Wigan Athletic side who could yet be dragged into the relegation picture due to off-field problems, while Charlton Athletic's survival hopes took a knock with a 1-0 home loss to Reading – George Puscas converting an early penalty.

Mid-table Sheffield Wednesday, another side at risk of a points deduction because of matters beyond the control of the coaching staff and players, earned a valuable 3-0 win at QPR thanks to goals from Dominic Iorfa, Josh Windass and Jacob Murphy.

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    Even in these extraordinary times, Barcelona letting Luis Suarez go to Atletico Madrid is starting to look like the oddest decision of the season.

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    With the majority of sides having now played half of their matches, the Stats Perform AI team have run the numbers to simulate how the rest of the LaLiga campaign will play out – and it's good news for Diego Simeone.

     

    The data model estimates the probability of each match outcome – either a win, draw or loss – based on each team's attacking and defensive quality.

    Those ratings are allocated based on four years' worth of comprehensive historic data points and results, with more weighting given to recent matches to account for improvements or declines in form and performance trends.

    The AI simulation takes into account the quality of the opposition that a team scores or concedes goals against and rewards them accordingly.

    All that data is used to simulate upcoming matches using goal predictions from the Poisson distribution – a detailed mathematical model – with the two teams' attacking and defending ratings used as inputs.

    The outcome of the season is then simulated on 10,000 different occasions in order to generate the most accurate possible percentage chance of each team finishing in their ultimate league position.

     

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    Atletico have been given a 75.1 per cent chance of winning LaLiga, according to the model.

    Simeone's men are predicted to finish on 86 points, nine clear of the rest of the field. They are given just a 17.8 per cent chance of coming second and dropping outside the top four is considered practically impossible.

    Barcelona and reigning champions Real Madrid are predicted to end with 77 points apiece, with just a 12.4 per cent chance each of pipping Atleti to the title. Madrid have a 41 per cent chance of finishing second, slightly above Barca's 39.4, having beaten Ronald Koeman's side 3-1 in the first Clasico of the season at Camp Nou last October.

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