There are only a handful of games left in the Championship season, and every single race is still on.
We’ve picked out and previewed the four best matches that will take place this Friday.
Leeds United vs Wigan
A clash between two teams at opposite ends of the table; Leeds are fighting to go up, Wigan are fighting to stay up.
Leeds’ run to promotion took a hit at the start of the year with a period of bad form, but they mostly appear to have righted themselves. They’ve won three of the last five and eight of the last 11, leaving them four behind leaders Norwich City and three ahead of third-place Sheffield United.
Wigan, though, have gone four without a victory coming into the match against the second-place team. In fact, they’ve only won one of the last 12. While they’ve arrested the slide of defeats — only four of those dozen were losses — they haven’t managed to pick up maximum points.
Travelling to Elland Road and getting anything at all will be a big ask. Since the start of November, Marcelo Bielsa’s side have won ten of 13 home games.
Patrick Bamford will be one to watch. The striker has been a regular in the side since February and has scored seven, and got one assist, in his last 13 appearances.
Patrick Bamford to score anytime, 1.95*
Bristol City vs Reading
Although Bristol City — in sixth, on 65 points — and Reading — 19th, on 44 — are at different ends of the table, they’re in similar spells of form.
Bristol have won three, drawn one and lost one in their last five, while the Royals’ formbook reads won two, drawn two, lost one.
The good form has given Reading a little breathing space at the bottom of the league, but not enough to feel safe just yet. They’re only four points ahead of Rotheram in 22nd, and will be desperate to pick up some more points to guarantee Championship football for another season.
However, Bristol are in the play-off places by the tightest of margins. They’re just a point ahead of Middlesbrough and two ahead of Derby County.
The Robins have a surprisingly poor record at home in the league this season too. Their record at Ashton Gate is eight wins, seven draws, and six defeats. The Royals might smell a chance of an upset.
Reading to win, 4.90*
Birmingham City vs Derby
Birmingham City were docked nine points for previous financial problems in late March, but they’d been doing a good job of dropping down the table by themselves at that point. The Blues had lost four in a row before the points deduction, but since then they’re steadied things, with a loss followed by a win and two draws.
Derby’s recent form has been mixed. They thrashed struggling Bolton and Rotheram by an aggregate of 10-1, but drew and lost against midtable Brentford and Blackburn. As an essentially midtable team, Birmingham may well cause them problems.
However, their star striker Che Adams, who has 22 goals in the Championship this season, has hit a lengthy cold spell. The 22-year-old only has one goal in his last nine appearances, or more than 13 hours of action.
Are Birmingham blunted, or is it about time Adams got another goal?
Che Adams to score anytime, 2.50*
Birmingham City v Derby Preview, Betting Tips And Enhanced Odds
Sheffield United vs Nottingham Forest
In third, Sheffield United are just three points behind the automatic promotion places. With the season drawing to a close, they could hardly play a better side than Nottingham Forest.
Forest are 11th, eight points off the play-offs and 17 from the relegation zone. They’re too far from either to be involved in either race. In other words, they have nothing but pride to play for.
They’re not in good form though. They will arrive at Bramall Lane on the back of three defeats in a row. Even before the season entered its final stages, Forest weren’t good on the road. They haven’t won away from home in any competition since November 24.
Meanwhile, Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United have won eight of their ten home matches since Christmas. It’s a good time of year to be in good form.
Fan Boost: Billy Sharp to score first and Sheffield United to win
WAS 4.25, NOW 5.00*
Sheffield United v Nottingham Forest Preview, Betting Tips And Enhanced Odds
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*odds subject to change.
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