It turned out to be a great week for Middlesbrough and Hull in the Championship, despite neither side taking to the field. The division’s top two saw their positions strengthened as title challengers Burnley and Derby were both held to draws on Tuesday night. Both Boro and Hull will look to consolidate their positions in the automatic promotion spots on Saturday, but while the Smoggies have an eminently winnable home tie against Blackburn, the Tigers have a much more difficult task as they visit Burnley in another top-of-the-table clash.
We tipped the Clarets to draw during the week in their trip to Sheffield Wednesday, and so it proved as the two played out a tense 1-1 draw. We also backed Preston to steal a result at Derby and they held the Rams to a 0-0 draw to make it a profitable night. Burnley are a solid side in third place, and they’ll be looking to avenge the 3-0 loss they suffered at Hull, when the Tigers visit on Saturday afternoon. Middlesbrough should be good enough to overcome an under-performing Blackburn team, while we fancy Forest to continue their unbeaten run when they head up to Leeds.
Middlesbrough v Blackburn
First up it’s Middlesbrough who appeal at 67/1001.67-1490.67-1.490.67 with Betfred, Paddy Power and Totesport to beat Blackburn on home ground.
Aitor Karanka’s men rose to the top of the table after a string of clean sheets and victories, only to promptly suffer back-to-back defeats at the hands of Forest and Bristol City. That has seen them overtaken by Hull, but there remains just a point in it, and after a two-week rest we expect Boro to come out firing on all cylinders.
They haven’t played since that 1-0 home reverse to Notts Forest, and the break may well have done them good and given them a chance to regroup and prepare for the second half of the season. Overall they’ve won 10 of 14 home games this term, and there is little doubt they have one of the strongest squads in the division. It is the addition of Blackburn’s Jordan Rhodes that could add a bit of fire to this fixture, particularly if the Scotland international makes his debut, but his loss will likely affect Blackburn much more than Boro.
Rovers have signed Jordi Gomez, who has represented Swansea and Sunderland in the Premier League, but he will have to have a big impact from midfield to make up for the loss of Rhodes. The Lancashire side have managed a couple of FA Cup wins against Newport and Oxford, but a winless run of seven league games has left them 18th in the table just five points above the drop zone. Confidence is low at the moment, and a trip to a very talented Middlesbrough side is far from ideal.
Burnley v Hull
With two sides at the top of their game clashing here, the Draw looks a great shout at 11/53.20+2202.202.20-0.45 with Skybet, Bet365 and BetVictor
Burnley’s only defeats in the last ten games have come away at Hull where they lost 3-0, and away at Arsenal in the FA Cup. They’ve done us a favour more than once on home ground this season by winning at attractive odds, but they were held to a 1-1 at Sheffield Wednesday in midweek and may have to settle for another point here. The table sees them in third place, four points behind Saturday’s opposition and in the grand scheme of things a draw wouldn’t be the worst result.
Similarly, Hull will be all too aware that getting at least a draw here will keep that four point gap intact, and Steve Bruce’s men have been in excellent form of late. They’ve won six games on the trot (2 Cup, 4 League), and that has helped them oust Middlesbrough at the top of the table by a single point. Promotion back to the Premier League is looking like a distinct possibility, and adding another point to their tally will be more than good enough here, bearing in mind that they have a game in hand over most of the chasing pack.
Apart from that most recent 3-0 result, games between these two are usually tight with none of the previous five settled by more than a single goal. We expect another cagey and competitive affair and a low-scoring draw would be no surprise at all.
Leeds v Nottingham Forest
A similar case can be made for s stalemate at Elland Road when Leeds take on Forest, and the Draw is priced at 23/103.30+2302.302.30-0.43 with Bet365 and BetVictor
Apart from the FA Cup defeat on Saturday at the hands of Watford, Forest are unbeaten in 13 games having won 6 and drawn 7. They can even feel a little hard done by after going down to Ighalo’s last minute goal in that match, having had a few chances to nick it themselves. The fact that they pushed a Premier League side so far demonstrates the kind of form they are in, and they can come away with a point this weekend. They’re currently 11th in the Championship table, nine points off the play-offs, but if they keep up this sort of form there’s no reason why they can’t make a late push for promotion.
Leeds are a further 3 points back in 15th place, and are in equally impressive form of late despite the ongoing problems at the club and the loss of yet another promising youngster as Sam Byram signed for West Ham. They’ve suffered just two defeats in the last 13 games, both away, while they’ve won 6 and drawn 5 of the others.
To add weight to the theory Leeds have drawn two of their last four games in front of their own fans, while Forest have drawn 4 of their last 5 away games. This will be another tight game but both are fancied to continue their impressive recent run of results with another draw.
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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