The Championship continues to be a happy hunting ground and it was three successful tips from four in midweek, with Middlesbrough, Sheffield Wednesday and Wolves doing the business, and only Derby letting us down with an uncharacteristically poor performance at home to Reading.
We’re backing two of those sides again as Middlesbrough and Sheffield Wednesday both appear to have winnable fixtures on Saturday, and both are on offer at very attractive odds. Boro recorded their ninth clean sheet in a row in the 1-0 win at Brentford, an incredible achievement which has helped them surge five points clear at the top of the table and put promotion well and truly on the agenda. they travel to lowly Bristol City and it will surely be a very tough match for the Robins as they search for Championship survival. Wednesday are regularly underestimated by the bookies, particularly at home where they have had a mixed record, but they’ve got their act together at Hillsborough recently and will welcome the visit of a struggling Leeds side. Meanwhile, Huddersfield and Fulham face off in a lower mid-table clash and it’s the home side that look to hold all the aces.
Bristol City v Middlebrough
It’s nine clean sheets in a row for Aitor Karanka and his men, and what’s more they’ve won eight of those. That is title-winning form make no mistake, and the Teesside club now find themselves five points clear at the top of the table and six points clear of third-placed Derby County. Tuesday night’s 1-0 win at Brentford was an excellent result because the Bees are certainly no mugs, although Karanka was introspective when he concluded that they rode their luck to a degree. The fact remains that they’ve won the last four away trips in the Championship though, and Bristol City should provide less resistance than Brentford on Saturday afternoon.
The Robins are fighting for survival and although they currently find themselves in the drop zone, they are only two points from safety so it’s all to play for over the remainder of the season. They produced a remarkable effort last weekend to come within a whisker of beating West Brom in the FA Cup, only to succumb to a late equalizer and they’ll face a replay next week against the Premier League side. However, they were unable to take that form into Tuesday’s clash with Preston at Ashton Gate, when they were beaten 2-1 by the Lancashire side. It’s five without a win at home now for City, and they have the worst home record of all teams in the division having been beaten six times on their own patch. Take the odds on Middlesbrough making it an unlucky seven on Saturday afternoon.
Sheffield Wednesday v Leeds
This one will be live on the TV at Saturday lunchtime, and it is usually a fiercely contested match when these two teams come together. There’s been nothing to choose between them over the years with plenty of draws and each side claiming the odd victory, but the pendulum of fate has swung in favour of the Owls this season, and they can cement their position just outside the play-offs with another three points.
Carlos Carvalhal has got Wednesday playing some good football at the moment, and Tuesday’s 3-2 win over Bolton demonstrated their resilience as they outfought a Trotters team desperate to make amends for their poor showing against non-league Eastleigh in the FA Cup. Gary Hooper scored twice for the Owls and the victory brought up their fourth win in five games, and kept them in the hunt for a play-off spot. They sit 7th in the table just two points outside the top six.
Leeds are still in trouble in the lower reaches of the table, although a seven-game unbeaten run had given them a bit of daylight over the bottom three before the midweek reverse against Ipswich. They will be highly competitive here, but Wednesday have won 9 of their last 12 at home, while Leeds tend to draw at best on their travels.
Huddersfield v Fulham
Our final tip is on Huddersfield at a shade of odds-against, with the +105 on offer with Skybet worth taking.
Our pre-season bet on Fulham to be relegated (along with Middlesbrough to achieve promotion), is looking more and more likely as the cottagers continue to struggle. Conceding goals has been a huge problem for the West Londoners, as we’ve highlighted in this column before, and they duly conceded three more as they lost 3-2 to Wolves during the week. They have just one win in 13 games to their name and confidence is at a low. They’ve let in more goals than anyone in the division bar Charlton, and they are visiting a Huddersfield side that battered the Addicks 5-0 on Tuesday night.
The Terriers have found a little bit of form lately, going five games unbeaten and winning three of the last four on home ground, and they can pull further away from the relegation zone with another three points here. They have a healthy ten-point gap over the bottom three and a few more wins should all but guarantee their safety. They’ve scored at least two goals in each of their last four home games, and will be relishing taking on another porous defence. Fulham have conceded at least twice in each of their last five away games and it’s no surprise that they’ve lost four of them. A home win here looks like a steal at better than even odds.
Middlesbrough to beat Bristol City
Saturday 16th January, 15:00 GMT
Sheffield Wednesday to beat Leeds
Saturday 16th January, 12:30 GMT
Huddersfield to beat Fulham
Saturday 16th January, 15:00 GMT
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