The home side is third in the league and has won the last three games without conceding a goal. The away side is 10th in the table and has lost three of the last four. That’s the situation when Reading host Bristol City on Saturday afternoon, yet the Royals are available at a very tempting odds-against price with several leading bookmakers.
Former Manchester United legend Jaap Stam is making a big impact as manager at Reading, and despite playing down talk of promotion, his side have risen to third in the table. Bristol City have gone in the opposite direction after a blistering start saw them at the top end of the table. It’s now five defeats in the last seven matches, and ironically it isn’t proving to be the best time of year for the Robins.
Meanwhile, Garry Monk has awoken the ‘sleeping giant’ that is Leeds football club, and they’ll be looking to bounce back into the play off zone with a win in a Yorkshire derby at Rotherham. The Whites lost to Newcastle last weekend, but there’s little shame in that result and they’re fancied to get the better of the division’s bottom club which is slowly being cut adrift.
Bookmakers are taking few chances with Newcastle any longer after Rafa’s men racked up an 8th consecutive league victory against Leeds, and they’re short odds to fend off Blackburn at home on Saturday. However, there could be value in backing the Magpies to beat the -1.5 Asian Handicap, since they’ve done so in seven of their last ten home games.
Reading v Bristol City
Under Jap Staam the Royals have made impressive progress in recent weeks, with a four-match winning streak only interrupted by an EFL Cup loss to Arsenal. They’ve beaten Rotherham, Nottingham Forest, Wigan and Burton in those four Championship games, and they’ve kept a clean sheet on each occasion. The run has helped propel them up to third in the table, and a promotion challenge is on the cards.
Bristol City started the season with a cracking run of form which saw them lose just three of their first 14 competitive games. Unfortunately for Robins’ fans, early dreams of promotion have been left in tatters after five defeats in the last seven games. That has seen them free-fall down to 10th in the table, and while relegation shouldn’t be a concern, they’ll find it difficult to make up ground on the top teams. The last two defeats to Brighton and Birmingham have passed without City scoring a goal, and they come up against a tight defence here.
To press the case for a Reading win further, the Royals have beaten the Robins on each of their last four visits, so take the +140 on offer.
Rotherham v Leeds
The Millers are having a torrid season this year, and are now odds-on to drop into League One. They’re rock-bottom of the table with just 7 points, and have gained just one win from 17 matches this term. Regular readers of this column will remember winning plenty of bets with Rotherham last season after Neil Warnock took over and led them to safety. The experienced manager elected not to stick around for a follow-up season though, and it’s already beginning to look like they’ll need another miracle to survive again this year.
Leeds are on a different trajectory under Garry Monk, and although 7th, they’re only a point outside the play off places. Prior to last week’s 2-0 defeat to Newcastle they’d won three league games on the spin against Wolves, Burton and Norwich, as well as beating the Canaries on penalties in the EFL Cup.
Rotherham have lost 9 of the last 10 games, and the last four at home in a row. Leeds are fully expected to pile on the pressure and travel home with three points in the bag.
Newcastle v Blackburn
Finally there is a case for backing Newcastle to beat a -1.5 goal handicap at +107 with BetVictor when they host Blackburn on Saturday.
The Magpies are clear top of the league, on an eight-game winning run, and looking every inch the champions elect. They’ve won 12 of the last 14 home games, and could barely be in better form. Seven of the last ten at home have seen them win by at least two goals, and they can do the same against Blackburn.
Rovers are in the Championship bottom three, and a record of 3-2-5 in the last ten games speaks volumes about their inconsistency. Former Bolton and Burnley boss Owen Coyle insists he’s not worried about the prospect of relegation, but his side have spent just one week outside the bottom three all season. One fears for the atmosphere at Blackburn, where fans have had more than enough of ownership problems, and it’s hard to see them rallying around a manager that they used to love to hate.
Newcastle are far and away the best side in this division, and it’s not hard to imagine them sticking a few past a lacklustre Rovers team.
Reading to beat Bristol City
Saturday 26th November, 15:00 GMT
Leeds to beat Rotherham
Saturday 26th November, 17:30 GMT
Newcastle -1.5 to beat Blackburn
Saturday 26th November, 15:00 GMT
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