We hit three out of three in the Skybet Championship in midweek, and we’re aiming for more of the same on Saturday with a trio of away day bets. The title chase is hotting up at the top of the table, and this weekend we’re pinning our stripes to three of the teams chasing promotion to the Premier League.
Middlesbrough were topping the table at the turn of the year but an inexplicable run of five without a win saw them drop away as Hull and Burnley climbed into the top two. The Smoggies finally re-found their form in midweek though with a come-from-behind win at the Riverside against Cardiff, and they face a winnable game away at Fulham as they look to put the pressure on the automatic promotion places. Derby had an even longer winless streak, but two wins in four days over Brentford and Blackburn has restored confidence and they travel to a Wolves side who have lost the last three on the spin. Meanwhile Burnley continue to do the business and face a tasty local Derby at lunchtime on Saturday at Bolton, where they’ll be looking to consolidate their position in the top two.
Fulham v Middlesbrough
After threatening to run away with the league at various times this season, Middlesbrough now find themselves in third position with a real battle on their hands to achieve automatic promotion. After five without a win their fans must have feared the worst when Fabio put Cardiff ahead with a wonder goal, but their side fought back to win 3-1 and prompted manager Aitor Karanka to declare, “Now, we are good again”. The old adage that ‘wins breed confidence’ could not be more true in this case, and the abundance of attacking talent in Middlesbrough’s line up is bound to test Fulham’s leaky defence at Craven Cottage on Saturday afternoon.
Boro had won four in a row on the road prior to the recent blip, but that loss of form only resulted in one away defeat and two away draws. In general their away form has been rock solid, and they currently occupy 4th place in the Championship ‘away’ table.
Fulham are languishing in 18th place in the table but with a ten-point cushion above the relegation zone, they are within sight of safety. The key problem this season has been the goals conceded column, with the Cottagers letting in a whopping 54 goals this year. Only the three teams in the bottom three have a worse record, which tells it’s own story. You never know which Fulham side will turn up, as recent results show, and they followed up the recent 3-0 loss at Blackburn with a 3-0 win at home to Charlton, then a 1-1 draw up at Leeds. Ultimately they look vulnerable to a good side, and Middlesbrough are certainly that this season.
Wolves v Derby
The Rams went seven games without a win throughout January and early February, but back-to-back victories over Brentford and Blackburn have lifted the mood around Pride Park. The shock sacking of coach Paul Clement and the introduction of Darren Wassall has dominated the recent headlines, but Tuesday’s match-winner Jacob Butterfield says confidence has been restored and they can look to push for promotion. Despite that lengthy blip, Derby remain 5th in the table and only six points off the leaders Hull. With the bit between their teeth again they can grab three points at a Wolves side that appears to have little left to play for.
Wanderers are 15th in the table with 40 points. They’re in no real danger of going down and are no real danger to the sides in the top six, and a winless run of seven games could be testament to a lack of competitive edge. The last three games have resulted in defeats to Brentford, Huddersfield and Preston, and the rest of this season could easily descend into mediocrity.
Bolton v Burnley
The Clarets have been a regular in this tipsters column for several weeks in the Championship and the layers continue to underestimate them. It’s now six wins in the last eight Championship games, and they are holding on to 2nd position just a point off the top of the table. They’ve had tough assignments on each of their last away trips, losing to Arsenal in the FA Cup before drawing with Sheffield Wednesday and Reading in the league, but prior to that they’d won three consecutive away games at Middlesbrough, MK Dons, and Brentford. They are more than good enough to beat Bolton if they can match them for desire in what will be a fiery atmosphere.
The Trotters have had a terrible time of things lately with financial troubles well-documented. A £7.5 million takeover by the Sports Shield Consortium headed by former striker Dean Holdsworth will have been gladly welcomed at the Macron Stadium, but it is unlikely to be enough to rescue them from relegation this term. They currently sit 23rd, seven points from safety. Home results have at least been a little more promising lately, but they’ve still been beaten by the likes of Leeds, Huddersfield and Cardiff here, and with all due respect, Burnley are a cut above those teams.
Middlesbrough to beat Fulham
Saturday 27th February, 15:00 GMT
Derby to beat Wolves
Saturday 27th February, 12:30 GMT
Burnley to beat Bolton
Saturday 27th February, 15:00 GMT
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