While the FA Cup takes centre stage on the weekend, there are a number of Championship games among the teams to have already bowed out of the famous competition. With the promotion and relegation battles so evenly poised in England’s second tier, that means there are plenty of crucial games to take in and we’ve found value in three of the matches on this weekend’s coupon.
Neither of the top two – Hull and Middlesbrough – play this weekend, with the Tigers otherwise engaged in the FA Cup against Arsenal and Boro without a fixture. That offers the likes of Brighton and Burnley a chance to close the gap at the top of the table, and the latter have a perfect opportunity to grab three points when they host relegation candidates Rotherham. Sheffield Wednesday are a team we’ve been following for a few weeks now, and while they face a tough trip to an in-form Preston side, there’s a big price on offer for the away win. Finally, Fulham and Charlton will play out a London derby and relegation six-pointer at Craven Cottage, and it looks like a game that is primed for plenty of goals.
Burnley v Rotherham
Burnley are on a great run of form and can get to within a point of leaders Hull with a home win over Rotherham on Saturday afternoon, and we’re backing them to do so at 4/71.57-1750.57-1.750.57 with BetVictor and Bet365
The Clarets retained the services of Sean Dyche after Premier league relegation last term, along with the majority of their squad, and it looks like the policy has paid off as they push for promotion back to the big time. They’ve lost just one game in the last ten – to Arsenal in the FA Cup – and are now eight points above Birmingham in 7th place. They should secure a play-off spot at least, but automatic promotion is the ultimate aim and this will be seen as a must-win game at Turf Moor. Recent home form has been superb with four wins from the last five and only a 0-0 draw with Ipswich blotting the copybook. They’ve scored four times in three of those four wins too, and Rotherham will struggle to cope with the Claret’s attack.
The Millers are in a real battle to retain their Championship status, and currently sit in 22nd place, five points adrift of safety. They’ve lost nine of the last fourteen games, with just three home wins to their name in that sequence. If they do stay up it will be that home form that they rely on, because they’ve lost nine of the last eleven on their travels and have just two away wins to their name all season. This is not the sort of place to go looking for survival points and their fate will probably rest on how they compete with teams around them for the remainder of the season. Burnley should have more than enough to claim the three points here.
Preston v Sheffield Wednesday
It’s a much more risky proposition but we’re sticking our necks out and backing Sheffield Wednesday to continue their excellent form when they visit Preston on Saturday afternoon. The Owls are a decent price at 9/52.80+1801.801.80-0.56 with Bet365, Coral and William Hill
Wednesday have worked their way up to 5th in the table after a great sequence of five wins and two draws from the last seven league games. Last week’s 4-0 home win over Brentford earned us a profit from our tips, and that came off the back of a brilliant 2-1 away victory at Birmingham. They’ve certainly been patchy on their travels over the course of the whole season, but they’re unbeaten in three road trips with a draw at Reading and wins over Fulham then Birmingham. They’re only seven points off the top of the table, and if they can continue the good run promotion is a very real possibility.
Preston have more than held their own in the Championship after being promoted last season, and they now sit comfortably in 11th place with 42 points. Relegation is no longer a concern and the most optimistic of supporters may also be dreaming of closing the nine-point gap to the top six and squeezing into the play-offs. That may be beyond this current squad of players, but they’ve beaten Huddersfield and Wolves in the last two games, and grabbed a creditable 0-0 draw at Derby the time before. However, they’ve also been beaten at home recently by the likes of Brentford and Blackburn, so Wednesday can travel with hope that a good performance will result in three points. Overall, Preston’s away form has been better than their home form, and they tend to do better when they can sit back and hit teams on the break. The Owls have the quality to win here at a very tempting price.
Fulham v Charlton
Finally we’re returning to a regular bet, which is over 2.5 goals when Fulham take to the field. It’s priced at 8/111.73-1380.72-1.380.72 with Betfred, Skybet and Totesport for the visit of Charlton, which is well worth taking.
The Cottagers have had a habit of featuring in high-scoring games this term, and it was the same story in midweek as they lost 3-0 to Blackburn. Perhaps the only surprise was that they failed to find the net. Charlton are no strangers to a big scoreline either, and the Addicks have conceded a league high 56 goals in their 31 games so far. Fulham are not far behind having conceded 53, and this match pits two of the worst defences in the division against each other.
For Charlton it’s a battle for survival as they sit in 23rd place, six points from safety. For Fulham this is an opportunity to put daylight between them and the bottom three, as they are currently 19th and only six points above the drop zone. That should ensure that both sides attack this game with the intention of winning, as a draw will not be hugely beneficial to either. Four of the last five meetings between the two teams have had more than three goals, and over 2.5 goals looks to be one of the bets of the weekend.
Eric has been a sports journalist for over 20 years and has travelled the world covering top sporting events for a number of publications. He also has a passion for betting and uses his in-depth knowledge of the sports world to pinpoint outstanding odds and value betting opportunities.
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