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The Championship was full of drama at the weekend, after a two-week break, and there’s no let up in the action with a full fixture list in midweek. Derby County were the big movers with a 4-2 win over Wolves which saw them climb into the play-off zone for the first time this season, while Brighton extended their lead at the top of the table to four points with Bobby Zamora’s late winner at Leeds. Bristol City moved off the bottom of the league and out of the relegation zone with a 2-0 victory over Nottingham Forest, and Reading’s fourth consecutive win saw them jump into the second automatic promotion spot.
It’s all to play for on Tuesday and Wednesday, and we’ve got three away sides fancied to perform smash-and-grab jobs and come away with three points from their respective travels. Derby, Burnley and Reading are all well-priced to take advantage of their out-of-form opponents.
Blackburn v Derby
Derby are rated a +145 shot by BetVictor to come away with a win at Blackburn, and such is their good form that they’re worth following.
After a slow start to life as Derby boss Paul Clement has started to show why he was so highly rated across Europe. The Rams have now won five of their last six games and Sunday’s thrilling 4-2 win against Wolves saw them rise into the top six. Chris Martin is back among the goals with a brace in that game despite missing a penalty, and the acquisition of Bradley Johnson from Norwich is looking like an astute move. Clement labelled it their best performance of the campaign so far, and singled out Martin for his excellent centre-forward play. All of a sudden Derby are looking like the genuine contenders that they should be, and it will pay to follow them for the next few fixtures.
Blackburn went down to a pretty disappointing 3-0 defeat o Championship new boys MK Dons, although they were always up against it after going down to ten men early in the first half. That doesn’t mask a generally abject season so far though, in which they’ve only won two of eleven league games. They reside in 15th place in the table – a precarious three points above the drop zone – and a visit from an in-form Derby side is not the tonic they need right now. In Blackburn’s favour is a decent enough home record, but the Rams won here last season and can do so again.
Nottingham Forest v Burnley
Burnley comfortably did the business at home to Bolton last Saturday, with Andre Gray scoring both goals to send the Trotters to the bottom of the league.
That defeat to the Robins was Forest’s third in four games, and all is not well for manager Dougie Freedman and his squad. The news that Michael Mancienne and Kyle Ebicilio were both ruled out for six weeks added to Forest’s long injury list, and Freedman really is down to the ‘bare bones’. They’ve lost to Middlesbrough and Hull as well as Bristol City, and any early-season optimism has long since faded as they’ve slipped to 14th in the league.
Burnley meanwhile have been making steady progress under Sean Dyche, and they’re part of a clutch of teams on 21 points within striking distance of leaders Brighton. They hit a purple patch earlier in the season with four straight victories, but then came unstuck with a 0-0 draw against Derby, and a 2-1 reverse at the hands of Reading. It’s been back to winning ways the last twice though, with a 2-1 win at Rotherham and last week’s 2-0 beating of Bolton.
Forest have lost their last three at home in the league – to Middlesbrough, Hull and Cardiff – while Burnley have two wins and a draw from their last three on the road.
Rotherham v Reading
The Royals have been in inspired form in recent weeks with six wins in seven, the latest of which was Saturday’s 1-0 win over Charlton courtesy of Nick Blackman’s ninth goals in nine games. They’ve beaten the likes of Middlesbrough, Burnley and Ipswich during this run of victories, and manager Steve Clarke will be delighted with his squad’s application. They’ve won the last four away games on the spin (including the Capital One Cup win at Portsmouth), and they’re scoring goals for fun.
That’s in stark contrast to Rotherham, who have only won twice all season and who sit 2nd bottom of the table with 8 points from 11 games. It was always going to be tough for the Millers after a long slog to survive last season and minimal investment in the summer. They parted company with long standing boss Steve Evans at the end of September, and he’s been replaced by Neil Redfearn, but his first game in charge ended in a 2-1 defeat to fellow strugglers Brentford. They’ve lost three of the last four at home, going down to Burnley and Fulham in the league and Norwich in the Capital One Cup, with a 2-1 victory over Cardiff the only bright spot in-between.
Tellingly, Rotherham have lost seven of their eleven games this season, and they’re finding it hard to even get draws on the board. A long hard season battling relegation awaits, and the visit of a free-scoring Reading side will not be one that they’ll relish. The Royals are fancied to continue their impressive form and cement their place among the promotion challengers.
Derby to beat Blackburn
Wednesday 21st October, 19:45 GMT
Burnley to beat Nottingham Forest
Tuesday 20th October, 19:45 GMT
Reading to beat Rotherham
Tuesday 20th October, 19:45 GMT
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