I wish I had pulled this together sooner so I could put together a full write up. But a quick dispatch will have to suffice.
There are four matches taking place tonight with major implications for the respective promotion and relegation battles in the Championship and the Premiership.
First, in the Championship, Stoke visit Charlton in a battle between two teams near the top of the promotion fight.
Stoke have their doubters; but according to my EPL simulator, their effort so far is the second strongest in the league (behind West Brom). If they can hold form, they should be able to catch Bristol City on points and bypass the promotion playoff.
Charlton have the pedigree to rise into the second spot on the table. But can they do it? So far they haven't done much to distinguish themselves from the rest of the teams near the top.
The bot favors Charlton by a slim margin and only due to home-field advantage. If Charlton fail to capitalize tonight, Stoke could slip out by six points with most of its remaining away games against the bottom of the table.
Even a draw would suit Stoke as it would maintain status quo while crossing a tough road match off their open schedule.
Up in the EPL, Fulham visit Bolton in a match critical to both teams. Fulham is on the mat but not quite done. In order to avoid being sent down, they obviously have to bypass some teams on the table.
Bolton is within range. But a win tonight by the Wanderers would put them nine points above Fulham—thus dwindling the pool of teams the Cottagers could reasonably hope to catch.
For Bolton, this is not only an opportunity to bury Fulham. It's also a chance to clear themselves (at least temporarily) of the pack of six fighting to avoid the third relegation spot.
With six teams all within two points of each other, it will be important to take the points where they can get them.
The bot gives Bolton a 50 percent chance of taking three points tonight and doing so would be an important step toward avoiding relegation.
The remaining two matches have similar stakes. Wigan play at Middlesbrough and Sunderland host Birmingham. All four of these teams are in the "Gang of Six" fighting to avoid the third relegation spot.
For any of them, taking the three points will not only help move them up in the pack; it will also have the prophylactic effect of keeping the other team in place.
I'll be looking forward to seeing the results come in tonight.
Mark Myers is mad scientist/sports geek behind ChanceBot.com, a sports simulation and analysis website. He can be reached at email@example.com
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