The Championship is often referred to as the ‘hardest’ division to get out of, with every team capable of beating anyone on their day. This was seen in action last weekend as Reading, off the back of 4 wins out of 5, were 2-0 up and coasting at Fulham, only to be pegged back and lose 4-2 to an incredible comeback. However, as the season wears on the table is becoming more and more settled, and it’s clear who the main protagonists are going to be at the business end of the division.
Brighton continued their unbeaten run, despite being held to a 0-0 draw by Preston last time out, and they sit top of the table with a four-point cushion over their closest challengers Hull. The Tigers are on a run of seven games unbeaten in the league (4 wins, 3 draws), and also took the scalp of Leicester in the Capital One Cup in midweek. Another promoted side, Burnley, are also right in the mix with the 1-0 derby win over Blackburn their third win in four games.
There’s plenty to look forward to, and it’s the Clarets who are our headline pick this weekend, as they welcome Huddersfield to Turf Moor.
Burnley v Huddersfield
Burnley are rated at 4/51.80-1250.80-1.250.80 with William Hill and that looks a good price for a strong home side.
The Clarets have regrouped under Sean Dyche since relegation from the Premier League last term, and they are making a compelling case for promotion back to the big time at the first time of asking. Saturday’s 1-0 win over Blackburn was their 7th in 13 games, and prompted Sean Dyche to praise his team for grinding out the win. It’s that sort of resoluteness that gets teams promoted over the grueling 46-game season, and having only conceded twice in the last four games, Burnley are giving themselves the platform to go and pick up the wins.
Huddersfield remain in mid-table, an uncomfortable four points above the drop zone, and with just 3 victories from 13 it looks like it’s going to be a long, hard season. They lost 2-1 to a rejuvenated Derby last weekend, but it’s a damning insight that their three wins have come against three of the current bottom four – Bolton, Charlton, and MK Dons. That would suggest that Huddersfield are going to have trouble competing with the better sides in the division, of which Burnley are certainly one. A price approaching evens is more than reasonable for the home victory on Saturday afternoon.
MK Dons v Hull
Hull are also set to take on relegation-threatened opposition when they travel to MK Dons, and the 5/42.25+1251.251.25-0.80 on offer with William Hill and Skybet is worth taking.
The Tigers were busy in midweek putting Leicester to the sword in the Capital One Cup, and although the extra-time may have taken it’s toll, Steve Bruce was quick to point out that he’d made 8 changes to his side prior to beating the Premier League high-flyers. That means the returning players should be fresh for this match, and the result should have instilled even more confidence and belief into the side. In the league Hull have risen to second place after a run of seven games without defeat (won 4, drawn 3), and impressively they’ve only conceded once in winning three of the last four.
MK Dons were always going to find life difficult after promotion from League One, and so it has proved with just three wins from 13 games. They are one place and one point above the relegation zone, and in fairness, most Dons fans would probably take that right now. Survival will be the ultimate aim this season, but they’re on a worrying run of 7 defeats in 9 matches. The recent 3-0 defeat away at QPR led to manager Karl Robinson admitting that his team was punching above it’s weight, and that his players must continue to work hard to try and compete. That’s exactly the spirit they’ll need if they’re going to survive, but they are always going to struggle against teams of Hull’s calibre.
Sheffield Wednesday v Nottingham Forest
Finally we fancy a Sheffield Wednesday side that has flown under the radar somewhat to land odds of 11/102.10+1101.101.10-0.91 with William Hill and Paddy Power when they welcome Notts Forest to Hillsborough.
Wednesday have quietly been going about their business in the league this season, but exploded onto the back pages again in midweek due to their cup exploits. They humiliated Arsenal 3-0 on Tuesday evening, and that was after dismissing Newcastle in the previous round. Owl’s boss Carlos Carvalhal hailed his team as ‘amazing’ in the aftermath of the game, and they now line up in the quarter finals of the Capital One Cup.
Those results were no flukes though, and Wednesday are now unbeaten in seven in the league (won 4, draw 3). They’ve climbed to 9th place and sit just four points outside the play-off zone, with a tilt at promotion a realistic proposition. They’ve long been known as a sleeping giant in footballing terms, and many a football romantic would love to see Wednesday and their famous stadium back among the elite. To achieve that they will need to win home games against the poorer sides in the division, and at present, Forest are among that number.
Dougie Freedman insists he is still enjoying the challenge at Forest, but with a long list of injuries and a transfer embargo, he has his hands tied behind his back to a certain degree. Not only are Wednesday flying high, but they will also be brimming with confidence after defeating Arsenal, and that can carry them to another home victory on Saturday afternoon.
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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