Wolverhampton Wanderers v Derby County
West hosts East in Friday’s live Championship game and Sky Bet go 6/4 Wolves, 12/5 the draw and 13/8 Derby in one of the most closely-priced games of the season. Wolves are unbeaten in four at home, winning three of them, and only twice all season have they been prevented from scoring. Former Arsenal striker Benik Afobe has been at the heart of their attacking success of late, scoring eight goals in 14 games since arriving at the club. He’s scored first in three of Wolves’ last four games at Molineux and is 11/2 to do so again. Derby are winless in five but will carry confidence into the game, having thrashed Wolves 5-0 in the reverse fixture. Of course, revenge will be on the minds of the Wolves players who started that day but Steve McClaren’s side should pose a threat once more having drawn at Norwich in their last away game. With that in mind the best bet may well be 8/11 that both teams score. That was the case in last season’s 1-1 draw and both sides are comfortable in the final third.
Top tip: Both teams to score at 8/11.
Bournemouth v Middlesbrough
The Sky Sports cameras are down on the South Coast for what should be a cracking start to the weekend’s Football League action. Sky Bet make the Cherries marginal 5/4 favourites with the draw 23/10 and Boro 2/1. Bournemouth have had a magnificent season so far but while they don’t lose many at home, they do draw a fair few – six in 19 to be precise, a tally no other side in the top 10 exceeds. Similarly, no top-six side has drawn more times away from home than the visitors and with so much to play for, 23/10 about a stalemate looks fair value here. With Bournemouth scoring six in their last two, aided by Brett Pitman and Yann Kermorgant, a repeat of the reverse 0-0 draw appears unlikely. In Patrick Bamford, Boro also have one of the standout strikers in the division and he’s helped them to find the net in six of their last seven away league games including a midweek 1-0 win at Derby. Both teams to score therefore makes obvious appeal at 4/6, but it may pay to take a chance on a score draw. Sky Bet go 3/1 that the game ends either 1-1, 2-2 or 3-3, and this makes more appeal than just going for the 1-1 option at 5/1.
Top tip: A 1-1, 2-2 or 3-3 draw at 3/1.
Brentford v Millwall
There’s plenty on the line for both sides in this London clash, as Brentford battle for an incredible promotion while Millwall fight for survival. Brentford go into the game as odds-on favourites at 8/13 with the draw 3/1 and Millwall 15/4. Four away wins is a decent return for Millwall – only two sides in the bottom half have managed more – but they’re now eight games without a victory of any kind. Their problem has been goals and you have to go all the way back to November for the last time they found the net twice in a league game. That said, the reverse ended 2-3 and Lions fans may well see their side find their scoring touch once more. The Bees are hit and miss at home – they haven’t drawn at Griffin Park since October – but should be high on confidence having twice come from behind to beat Blackburn on Tuesday. Andre Gray, who scored a brace in the reverse, is in good form as is Chris Long so it’s hard to see the hosts failing to score. In their last four home games, Brentford have twice found the net inside 10 minutes and that’s one option at 5/1. However, the best bet is both teams to score in the second half at 5/2. With so much at stake attack will be the order of the day whatever the situation and there were four goals, split equally between the two sides, after half-time in the reverse.
Top tip: Both teams to score in the second half at 5/2.
Blackburn Rovers v Brighton and Hove Albion
Blackburn are 13/10 favourites to bounce back to winning ways when they host a Brighton side looking to take a decisive step towards survival on Saturday. Rovers had won three Championship games on the trot to keep alive their very faint hopes of sneaking into the play-off spots, but Tuesday night’s 3-2 defeat to Brentford leaves them 11 points behind the sixth-placed Bees with just eight games to go. Brighton are six points above the relegation xone so have a bit of work still to do and they are 2/1 to pick up their first victory in four games. The draw is 9/4. These sides drew 1-1 when they last met back in November and a repeat result at Ewood Park is 5/1. Rudy Gestede scored on that occasion – as well as in Tuesday’s defeat to Brentford – and he’s 11/2 favourite to net first on Saturday and 6/4 anytime. Jordan Rhodes is favourite at 5/1 and 11/8 respectively while Brighton duo Craig Mackail-Smoth and Chris O’Grady are both priced at 7/1 and 12/5.
Top tip: Rudy Gestede to score first at 11/2.
Blackpool v Leeds United
Blackpool’s relegation could officially be confirmed this weekend and they are 5/2 outsiders to overcome a mid-table Leeds side at Bloomfield Road. The Rock-bottom Seasiders are 18 points adrift of safety with eight games remaining after Tuesday night’s 3-0 home defeat to Charlton stretched their winless run to 10 games and increased their losing streak to six. Leeds head into this fixture on the back of a four-match unbeaten run, including three wins, so it’s no surprise that they are even-money favourites for victory. United, who beat struggling Fulham 3-0 away from home on Wednesday night, won this fixture 3-1 back in November, and a repeat scoreline can be backed at 16/1. Souleymane Doukara was on the scoresheet on that occasion and is 13/2 to net first on Saturday and 2/1 to strike anytime. Billy Sharp is favourite in both markets at 6/1 and 7/4 respectively, while Blackpool’s best hope is regarded to be Gary Madine, who can be backed at 7/1 and 12/5.
Top tip: Leeds to score two or more goals at 11/10.
Cardiff City v Birmingham City
Cardiff take on Birmingham in a mid-table battle on Saturday and the Bluebirds are 5/4 favourites to triumph despite some struggles at home of late. The hosts have taken just three points in a winless run of six games at the Cardiff City Stadium so Birmingham might tempt several punters at 2/1 for victory or 23/10 to earn a draw. The Blues, one point behind Cardiff in 15th, are unbeaten in their last four games which included two victories to nil and an astonishing 2-2 draw at promotion hopefuls Derby after scoring twice in stoppage time. These sides drew 0-0 back in November and those expecting another stalemate can get 9/1. Cardiff trio Eoin Doyle, Federico Macheda and Kenwyne Jones are all priced at 6/1 to score first and 7/4 to net anytime, while Birmingham pair Clayton Donaldson and Nikola Zigic are 7/1 and 12/5 in the respective markets.
Top tip: Draw and under 2.5 goals in the match at 3/1.
Charlton Athletic v Reading
Charlton are one of the form sides in the Championship but they are marginal outsiders at 7/4 to see off FA Cup semi-finalists Reading at The Valley. The Addicks have won six of their last eight games to climb into upper mid-table under Guy Luzon. The Israeli boss had gone four matches without a win after taking over from the sacked Bob Peeters but his side are playing with confidence now, scoring 17 goals in this run and conceding just seven. Reading are 7/5 favourites, with the draw priced at 23/10, as they head into this fixture on the back of a 3-0 win over Bradford to book their place at Wembley but two days earlier they lost 4-1 at title hopefuls Watford in the Championship. Prior to that they had won just once in their last four league games but there’s no need to panic considering they are 10 points clear of the drop zone. The Royals lost 1-0 at home to Charlton earlier in the season and you can get 7/1 about a repeat result this time around or 13/2 about the visitors winning by that scoreline. Johann Berg Gudmundsson was described as Charlton’s David Beckham after his superb goal in the 3-0 win over Blackpool on Tuesday night and he’s 8/1 to strike first on Saturday and 11/4 to net anytime, but Igor Vetokele is favourite at 6/1 and 7/4 – the same odds as Reading duo Pavel Pogrebnyak and Simon Cox.
Top Tip: Johann Berg Gudmundsson to score anytime at 11/4.
Huddersfield Town v Fulham
With just eight matches of the Sky Bet Championship season remaining, Fulham need to step things up having picked up just one win from their last 13 matches in all competitions and they slumped to defeat again at home to Leeds on Wednesday. As has often been the case this season, the Cottagers played well for long stretches of that game but failed to get the result they needed. They can struggle defensively, but do also have firepower up front. Huddersfield, 6/5 favourites for this encounter with the sponsors, also need to start winning more matches in order to guarantee their safety from relegation, but went close to taking the scalp of Norwich in midweek, undone by an extra-time equaliser. Ishmael Milleropened the scoring in that match and could be worth a look in the goalscorer markets.
Top Tip: Ishmael Miller to score at any time at 12/5.
Norwich City v Nottingham Forest
Norwich are 4/6 favorites to put a frustrating week behind them when they host Nottingham Forest at Carrow Road. Draws against Derby and Huddersfield have seen them lose ground on their rivals in the push for automatic promotion. However, although they need to return to winning ways here, they won’t find things easy against a Forest side themselves looking to re-establish themselves in the Play-off zone. A 2-0 win over Rotherham in midweek pushed Dougie Freedman’s side back up to ninth in the table, although they are still a tasty 40/1 with Sky Bet to go up into the Barclays Premier League next season despite their recent return to some form. Forest are quoted at 4/1 to win this, with the draw at 14/5.
Top Tip: Norwich to win and both teams to score at 9/4.
Rotherham United v Sheffield Wednesday
Rotherham are out to put further clear air between themselves and the sides in the relegation zone by beating Sheffield Wednesday – but the League sponsors can’t split the two sides and quote them both at 13/8 to win this match, with the draw a 9/4 chance. The home side come here on the back of a disappointing spell with a 2-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest on Wednesday their second loss of the week, however midweek also saw disappointment for Wednesday with a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Wolves pushing the Owls back into the bottom half of thetable. Rotherham’s Matt Derbyshire has been a little quiet of late, but netted four in five games not so long ago and remains a man to be feared. He might be worth a small dabble at 7/1 in the first goalscorer betting, with Wednesday’s Atdhe Nuhiu, Caolan Lavery and Stevie May all the same price in the same market.
Top Tip: Matt Derbyshire to score first at 7/1.
Watford v Ipswich Town
Watford are priced up as Sky Bet’s even-money favourites to beat Ipswich, who are 12/5 for three points and 5/2 for one. Watford are the division’s most prolific side on home soil, averaging well over two goals per game, although those figures are skewed slightly by them hitting five against Charlton and seven against Blackpool. Ipswich remain in the hunt for a play-off place at the very least and have done well in London this year, winning at Fulham and Brentford. With Jay Tabb, Daryl Murphy and Freddie Sears in scoring form, they pose an attacking threat and you’d expect there to be goals once more at Vicarage Road, as there were last season when Watford won 3-1. Sky Bet quote 3/1 about a score draw, and 100/30 that both sides find the net in the first half. They are both considered, but over 3.5 goals is the call at 7/4. It’s paid out in seven of Watford’s 19 home games in the league and more goals are on the agenda here.
Top tip: Over 3.5 goals at 7/4.
Wigan Athletic v Bolton Wanderers
This is always a fiercely-contested derby and while Sky Bet go 11/10 Wigan and 23/10 Bolton, it’s the draw which should get the most attention at 23/10. No side in the division has won fewer home games than Wigan, but no side in the division has won fewer away games than Bolton and it’s really hard to find a lot between these sides. Bolton have improved under Neil Lennon and hold the advantage when it comes to the league table, but Wigan have won three of their last five matches. However, Malky Mackay’s side have failed to score in 10 of their last 15 home games including each of the last three. Similarly, Bolton haven’t scored in over 300 minutes on the road so everything points to a tight, low-on-goals match. In both 2009 and 2010, these sides played out a 0-0 draw when this fixture took place in the Premier League and 15/2 about another rates the best bet. Alternatively you can get 1-1 on your side as well by taking 11/4 about there being a draw and under 2.5 goals.
Top tip: A 0-0 draw at 15/2.
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