AFC Bournemouth v Watford
Sky Bet Championship table-toppers Bournemouth are 17/20 favourites ahead of Friday night’s clash with Watford. The Hornets head to Dean Court on the back of a remarkable 7-2 victory over Blackpool last weekend, where Slavisa Jokanovic’s men trailed 2-0 at half-time before a stunning comeback. They occupy the final play-off place coming into the weekend’s round of matches and are 14/5 to add to their recent run of four wins from six games. Bournemouth have matched that level of form in recent weeks but will be looking to bounce back after defeats to Leeds in the league and Aston Villa in the FA Cup. Callum Wilson scored the Cherries’ only goal at Villa Park and, with 12 Championship strikes to his name already this term, it’s no surprise to see him 7/2 favourite to score the opening goal here. Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo are considered most likely for Watford – both priced at 13/2 in the first-scorer betting.
Top Tip: Callum Wilson to score any time at 10/11.
Brentford v Middlesbrough
Middlesbrough’s incredible FA Cup win over Manchester City was overshadowed slightly by Bradford’s heroics on the same afternoon but manager Aitor Karanka won’t mind too much and his side are marginally preferred in the betting at 7/5 as they face Brentford at Griffin Park. The hosts, who are 9/5 to pick up all three points, take to the field on the back of three straight victories in the Sky Bet Championship, which have consolidated their position in the play-off places. Mark Warburton’s side have only conceded once in their last three outings and can be backed at 4/1 to win to nil, with the visitors, who boast the tighest defence in the league, available at 7/2 in the same market. Patrick Bamford wrote his name into Boro folklore with a goal at the Eithad last Saturday and the in-form striker is 5/1 co-favourite, along with Brentford’s Andre Gray, to score the opening goal of the game.
Top Tip: Under 2.5 goals at 5/6.
Huddersfield Town v Leeds United
West Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield and Leeds have enjoyed some memorable derby clashes over the years and the Terriers are even-money favourites with Football League sponsors Sky Bet ahead of this weekend’s encounter at the John Smith’s Stadium. Leeds currently trail their neighbours by five points in the league standings and are available at 13/5 to pick up just their second away win of the campaign. United have drawn three of their past six games and it’s 12/5 that this one ends all square. A 1-1 draw tops the correct score market, while a repeat of the 3-2 win for Huddersfield in the corresponding fixture last season can be backed at 28/1. Goals have been a recurring theme in matches involving these two sides in recent years, with over 2.5 being scored in each of their last seven meetings. An eighth time on the spin is priced accordingly at 8/11 – those fancying goals may think backing over 3.5 makes far greater appeal at 5/2. Nahki Wells is considered most likely to get the opening goal of the game at 5/1 with Sky Bet, with Town teammate James Vaughan 11/2, and Leeds pair Mirko Antenucci and Souleymane Doukara both 13/2 shots.
Top Tip: Over 3.5 goals at 5/2.
Birmingham City v Norwich City
Birmingham felt slightly aggrieved not to pick up all three points at Sheffield Wednesday in midweek and come into Saturday’s home clash with Norwich as 9/4 shots for victory. Gary Rowett’s side have been in good form since losing heavily to Derby in front of their own fans on Boxing Day, their only defeat in the interim coming against top-flight side West Brom in the FA Cup, but Norwich haven’t been playing badly either since the arrival of Alex Neil. The Canaries, considered 11/10 favourites by Sky Bet, were a bit below their best when beaten at home by a good Brentford side last weekend but had previously impressed under their new boss with victories over Cardiff and Bournemouth. The draw is the outsider of the three possible outcomes at 5/2, although 1-1 tops the correct score market at 11/2. Visiting striker Cameron Jerome, who has 13 goals to his credit this season, heads the first scorer betting at 5/1 and he’s 11/8 to find the net any time, while Clayton Donaldson, just three behind Cameron in the scoring charts, is considered most likely in the Birmingham ranks to strike first at 6/1 and 7/4 any time.
Top Tip: Cameron Jerome to score any time at 11/8.
Blackburn Rovers v Fulham
Following an impressive weekend win over Swansea in the FA Cup, Blackburn came back down to Earth when beaten 2-0 by Derby in midweek but are Sky Bet’s 19/20 favourites as they look to get back on track at home to Fulham on Saturday. Only two points divide the sides in the league standings after 27 games, with Rovers the side looking down on their opponents, but both teams are capable of very good performances on their day. Fulham have been an all-or-nothing side lately, winning three and losing three of their last six Championship games. Kit Symons’ Cottagers are 13/5 to pick up all three points at Ewood Park. Rudy Gestede has been making headlines in the transfer gossip columns this month but it’s not stopped him in front of goal and the French striker is 4/1 to open the scoring, with Hugo Rodallega the shortest-priced Fulham player (13/2) in the same market.
Top Tip: Half-time draw, full-time Blackburn at 4/1.
Blackpool v Brighton & Hove Albion
Blackpool manager Steve Clark will no doubt be accentuating the positives to his players following last weekend’s 7-2 defeat at Watford, as they went into the break 2 0 to the good, and the Seasiders are 100/30 to bounce back from that ultimately heavy loss with a win over Brighton on Saturday. The visitors made a disappointing start to the current campaign but have started to turn things around lately and have won two of their three league outings since Chris Hughton took charge. The Eagles are odds-on for victory at 5/6 with Sky Bet, while the draw is available at 5/2. Chris O’Grady was on target for Brighton against Arsenal in the FA Cup on Sunday and he’s 11/2 to claim the opening goal here, half a point bigger than teammate Craig Mackail-Smith. Blackpool target-man Steve Davies is considered most likely for the home side and is 7/1 to score first and 12/5 to hit the net any time in the match.
Top Tip: Brighton to win both at half-time and full-time at 7/4.
Bolton Wanderers v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Bolton are 7/4 chances to bounce back to winning ways when they host Wolves on Saturday, but may fancy their chances on home soil. The Trotters head into the clash on the back of a 4-2 defeat at fourth-bottom Rotherham but they haven’t lost at the Macron Stadium since Neil Lennon took charge in early October and of those eight home games in all competitions, they’ve won six. Seventh-placed Wolves are preferred in the betting at 8/5 to collect all three points (the draw is 9/4) as they look to boost their play-off hopes and they will also be coming in with some confidence having claimed three 1-0 victories in their previous four away games, with the other being a goalless draw in the FA Cup. It’s 7/1 for another 1-0 win and 21/10 that Wolves keep a clean sheet once again. Adam Le Fondre is 11/2 to score first on his Bolton debut and 6/4 to strike anytime while Wolves’ Nouha Dicko is 6/1 and 7/4 respectively in the same markets.
Top Tip: Under 2.5 goals at 4/6.
Cardiff City v Derby County
Second-placed Derby are 11/10 favourites to maintain their promotion charge with a win when they visit a Cardiff side hovering in mid-table. The Rams, who booked their place in the FA Cup fifth round last weekend, have won their previous two away games in the Sky Bet Championship without conceding and will be looking for a third successive victory in all competitions following their 2-0 midweek triumph over Blackburn. Cardiff will be hoping to bounce back after three successive defeats – the latest coming in the FA Cup at home to Reading last Saturday – and they are 12/5 to pick up maximum points and the same price to draw. Derby’s in-form striker Darren Bent has bagged three in his last two games and is 11/2 to net first and 6/4 to score anytime here but Chris Martin is favourite in both markets at 9/2 and 5/4. Kenwyne Jones is rated Cardiff’s best hope at 13/2 and 2/1 respectively.
Top tip: Darren Bent to score a brace at 9/1.
Charlton Athletic v Rotherham United
Charlton are 13/8 to halt their slide down the Sky Bet Championship table by winning a crucial clash at The Valley against fourth-bottom Rotherham. The Addicks halted a run of four successive defeats in all competitions with a goalless draw at Wolves last weekend in Guy Luzon’s first game in charge but the team still haven’t won since beating Reading on November 8. They will hope to end that wait when they host Rotherham, who are 9/5 to claim the victory they need to move level on points with their opponents, and 21/20 to draw. The Millers claimed a morale-boosting 4-2 triumph over Bolton in midweek. Charlton striker Igor Vetokele is 6/1 to net first and 7/4 to score anytime while Rotherham’s Conor Sammon, who scored against the Trotters, is 13/2 and 2/1 in the respective markets.
Top tip: Conor Sammon to score first at 13/2.
Ipswich Town v Wigan Athletic
Promotion-chasing Ipswich are unsurprisingly favourites at 8/11 to pick up all three points against Wigan on Saturday. Town may have lost three of their last four in all competitions but one of those was against Premier League highflyers Southampton in an FA Cup replay and before the 1-0 defeat to Derby on January 10, Mick McCarthy’s men had won eight and drawn two of their previous Sky Bet Championship matches. The Latics are 7/2 to arrest their disappointing run of form with a victory and 11/4 to pick up a point as they chase their first win since Boxing Day. The arrival of Malky Mackay at the DW Stadium has yet to see an upturn in the club’s fortunes having managed just one win and two draw in his 11 games in charge in all competitions, including a 1-0 home defeat against Huddersfield last weekend. However, there has been some interest in the betting in Wigan with the initial 4/1 having been taken. Ipswich hot shot Daryl Murphy, the division’s top scorer with 18 goals, is 4/1 to net first and evens to strike anytime during the 90 minutes.
Top Tip: Daryl Murphy to score first at 4/1
Nottingham Forest v Millwall
Mid-table Nottingham Forest have slipped out of the play-off picture in recent months but are still rated 4/5 favourites to get the better of third-bottom Millwall on Saturday. Stuart Pearce’s side had last weekend off having lost to Rochdale in the FA Cup third round but their most recent Championship outing resulted in a 3-2 defeat at Fulham. Their surprising 2-1 win at local rivals Derby two weeks ago was their first victory since November 22, however Millwall, who are 100/30 to pick up all three points at the City Ground and 13/5 to draw, are also out of form having drawn one and lost five of their last six league games. Neither side managed to find the net when these sides met at the New Den earlier this season and a repeat scoreline of 0-0 is 11/1. In any case, a feast of goals seems unlikely with both teams under some pressure to get three points on the board.
Top Tip: Draw and under 2.5 goals in the match at 100/30.
Reading v Sheffield Wednesday
Sheffield Wednesday are 5/2 to get the win they need to stay in the play-off picture when they visit a Reading side keen to put some distance between themselves and the relegation zone. The Owls, who sit ninth in the table and nine points adrift of the top six, head into the fixture on the back of a goalless draw with Birmingham on Tuesday night while the Royals also failed to find the net as they took a point from their midweek clash at Millwall. Reading are 11/10 to make home advantage count with a victory and 23/10 to earn a draw, but they need to improve their recent record at the Madejski Stadium, having won only one in their last five at home. A second successive 0-0 for both sides is an 8/1 chance while a repeat of Wednesday’s 1-0 win earlier in the campaign is the same price. Stevie May netted the only goal that day and he’s 7/1 to strike first on this occasion and 12/5 to score anytime. Reading duo Pavel Pogrebnyak and Simon Cox are favourites in the markets at 11/2 and 6/4.
Top Tip: Stevie May to score first at 7/1.
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