We’re entering the final straight in the Championship with just 12 games to go until season’s end. Newcastle boosted their title chances in the week with a somewhat fortunate 2-1 win at Brighton, but it was a huge result in terms of the table. The Magpies are now two points clear of the Seagulls, and eight points ahead of third-placed Huddersfield, who they face on Saturday evening.
The three teams in the other play off positions – Reading, Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday – have all slipped up in recent weeks to give the chasing pack a fighting chance. The likes of Norwich, Fulham and Preston are all within six points of the top six. Wednesday and Norwich face each other at Hillsborough on Saturday afternoon, and their relative positions makes it a real six-pointer.
Reading may be a surprise promotion contender under Jaap Stam, but the former Manchester United centre back has the Royals well poised to take part in the end of season finale. Defeats away at Leeds and Brighton in the last two matches have seen the Berkshire side drop away from an automatic promotion challenge, but a return to home soil against a badly out-of-form Wolves side may be just the tonic.
Finally, Neil Warnock is working his magic with another club, and his Cardiff side are a tasty price to snatch three points at Queens Park Rangers on Saturday. It’s probably a bit too late for a play off push, but the Bluebirds have won three of the last four matches, including excellent away wins at Leeds and Derby. Rangers have gathered just 19 points from 17 home games this season, and have lost six of the last ten at Loftus Road.
Reading v Wolves
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The Royals may have lost the last two, but they were very difficult away games at two of the top three in Brighton and Huddersfield. A home tie against a Wolves side languishing in 20th is a very different proposition. Prior to those defeats Jaap Stam had overseen four wins and two draws in six matches, and Reading’s home form is the 4th best in the division. Their record reads 11-4-2 in 17 games in front of their own support, and they’ve been victorious in eight of the last ten at home.
Wolves are on a run of five consecutive defeats (four league, one cup), and have slipped perilously close to the relegation zone. Wanderers are just two places and two points above Blackburn, who sit 22nd. Home defeats to Chelsea in the FA Cup and Newcastle in the league are nothing to be too ashamed about, but a loss at Burton and home defeats to Wigan and Birmingham are poor results. Even more so since they were against direct relegation rivals. It probably won’t get much better on Saturday versus a Reading side that will be itching to bounce back to form and cement a place in the play offs.
Sheffield Wednesday v Norwich
Wednesday and Norwich are another two teams in that particular battle, and odds of 1.82Bet €100 to win €18241/50Bet £100 to win £182-122Bet $100 to win $1820.82Bet HK$100 to win HK$182-1.22Bet Rp100 to win Rp1820.8200Bet RM100 to win RM182 with 188Bet about both scoring in this game look more than fair.
Norwich have been in much better form since the turn of the year, but their away form continues to let them down. A 1-0 win at Cardiff in February is the only three points gained on their travels since a 3-1 win at Wolves way back on the 1st of October. That’s the main reason the Canaries find themselves six points adrift of Wednesday, who currently sit 6th in the table. It’s seven defeats in the last ten road games, including a demoralising 2-1 loss at lowly Burton last week. However, the Norfolk club continues to sport one of the Championship’s best attacks and worst defences, and they found the net in seven of the last ten away games, regardless of poor results.
Wednesday lost last year’s play off final to Hull, and are aiming to go one better this season. They’d been rock solid at home recently, so a 2-1 defeat to Brentford last time they turned out at Hillsborough was something of a shock. That was followed up by a 1-0 loss at Leeds, and the Owls will be desperate to get a positive result here and settle the nerves. They’ve only failed to score once in the last ten home matches, and Norwich rarely keep clean sheets.
QPR v Cardiff
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Rangers strung together back-to-back wins against Birmingham and Wigan recently, but were back on the losing side last week in the 2-1 defeat at Preston. Just one clean sheet in the last 22 matches tells its own story, and that pair of wins were the only two in the last eight games. At home they’ve lost six of the last ten games, with the likes of Burton, Blackburn and Wolves all returning from a trip to London with three points in the bag.
Cardiff are arguably equal or better to those sides, and what’s more, Neil Warnock has his team in excellent form. They were pegged back to a 2-2 draw by Fulham last time out, but previously smashed five past Rotherham and gained very creditable away wins at Leeds and Derby. The Bluebirds have won four of the last six overall, and three of the last five on the road.
Reading to beat Wolves
Saturday 4th March, 15:00 GMT
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Sheffield Wednesday v Norwich – Both teams to score
Saturday 4th March, 15:00 GMT
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Cardiff to beat QPR
Saturday 4th March, 15:00 GMT
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- Sheffield Wednesday