Stick With Revitalised Villa in Midweek Championship

Villa's win against Norwich keeps slim play off hopes alive.

Aston Villa landed the odds for this column on Saturday with a 2-0 win over Norwich, and we’ll stick with them again in a packed midweek Championship fixture list. Queens Park Rangers are the visitors on Tuesday night, but Steve Bruce’s Villains are now on a run of six wins in seven, and haven’t given up on their faint hopes of promotion just yet.

The Midlands club are ten points adrift of the top six, so a play off place looks out of reach with just seven games left, but recent form does give them a squeak. Fulham leap-frogged Sheffield Wednesday into 6th place at the weekend, but neither of those sides are making the spot their own and the likes of Norwich, Derby and Preston are also waiting in the wings.

Huddersfield’s second defeat in a row – this time to a late Burton winner – allowed Newcastle and Brighton to steal a march at the top over the weekend, and both took advantage. The Magpies and the Seagulls are nine points clear of the chasing pack after victories over Wigan and Blackburn respectively. Brighton – so unfortunate in last year’s play offs – will be doing everything they can to avoid late heartache again this season, and Tuesday’s home tie against Birmingham provides the opportunity to stretch the gap even further.

Finally, at the other end of the table, Wolves have pulled clear of the drop zone with four straight wins, and are a decent bet to make it five from five when they welcome a Forest side still deep in trouble.

Aston Villa v QPR

Villa are -120  with BetVictor to beat QPR, and their home record means they warrant support.

The Villains have only been beaten twice on home soil all season, and have won the last four at Villa Park without conceding a goal. Three of those wins have come against fellow play off contenders Norwich, Sheffield Wednesday and Derby, so Bruce has got his side playing at a good level again after a protracted mid-season slump. Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Norwich wasn’t the best performance, by Bruce’s own admission, but three points and a clean sheet is a great return for a side not playing at its best.

QPR have worked their way out of danger under Ian Holloway, but went down 1-0 away at Derby last Friday night after spending most of the game on the back foot. Most of their recent good form has come at home, and this represents one of the Championship’s toughest away days.

Villa have conceded just once in the last seven matches, and with Fulham and Derby up against one another on Tuesday night, this is a decent opportunity to make up ground on the teams above.

Brighton v Birmingham

Brighton are another side with a strong home record, and the Seagulls can be backed at -167  with Bet365William Hill and Betfair to beat lacklustre Birmingham.

It’s still just two wins for the Blues under Gianfranco Zola, in a tenure that now stretches to twenty games. Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Ipswich was their third stalemate in a row after a point earned against Newcastle and Cardiff, and it’s fortunate for Birmingham that they had such a decent start to the season. Joint sixth when Zola took over, the Blues are now 18th and just six points clear of the relegation zone.

It’s a very different story for Chris Hughton and Brighton, who will be determined to make up for last year’s disappointment by going up in one of the automatic promotion slots. They were struck by injuries in the first leg of the play off semi-final at Sheffield Wednesday, finishing with nine men in a 2-0 defeat. They were unable to recover from that in the second leg, and the painful memories should galvanise the squad in this season’s run in.

Brighton have the best home record in the division, winning 15 of 20 matches in front of their own fans. They’ve won 12 of the last 15 at home in all competitions, and have beaten Birmingham on each of their last three visits to the south coast.

Wolves v Notts Forest

Finally, we’ll side with on-fire Wolves as they host Forest at -110  with Bet365 and William Hill.

Wanderers were in danger of being embroiled in a relegation battle no more than a month ago, but four wins on the spin have lifted Wolves to 16th and eight points ahead of the bottom three. The wins have come against Rotherham, Fulham, Brentford and Cardiff – teams that are at the least equal to a struggling Forest side.

The Nottingham club are on a run of just one win in nine games, which has seen them drop perilously close to the bottom three. In 20th place, they are just two points ahead of Blackburn, who are staring down the trapdoor. Draws against Preston and Derby in the last two are decent enough results, but as ever, Forest’s ability to concede goals undermines results. Only bottom club Rotherham have let more through their net this season than Forest, and they’re up against a Wolves side here that has rustled the onion bag eight times in the last three games.

Tips Summary

Aston Villa to beat QPR
Tuesday 4th April, 19:45 BST
Odds:  -120

Brighton to beat Birmingham
Tuesday 4th April, 19:45 BST
Odds:  -167

Wolves to beat Nottingham Forest
Tuesday 4th April, 19:45 BST
Odds:  -110

aston villa
Brighton
Championship
wolverhampton wanderers

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