English Championship Preview

The Football League Championship steams ahead as we reach what will surely be a dramatic final few weeks. Burnley cemented their place atop the league with a thrilling 3-2 win over Fulham while Blackburn Rovers continued their upturn in form with 2-0 win over Birmingham City. This weekend will see Bristol City and Fulham go head to head as both sides look to ease their relegation fears while Hull City will look to get back to winning ways against MK Dons. 

Saturday 12 March

8/10 Blackburn | Draw 24/10 | Leeds 37/10 (14:30)

Blackburn Rovers eased their relegation fears as they cruised past Birmingham City thanks to low first-half strikes from Tony Watt and Danny Graham. The win moved Paul Lambert’s side up to 16th place on the log, eight points clear of Rotherham United who currently occupy the final relegation place. Rovers have now won four of their last six, a run which has all but erased any thoughts of relegation. Leeds made it two from two as they beat promotion-chasing Cardiff City in Wales on Tuesday evening. A feisty encounter saw Souleymane Doukara and Mirco Antenucci get on the scoresheet for the Yorkshiremen as they ran out 2-0 winners. The foul-tempered affair was highlighted by Fabio Da Silva’s red card which sparked a clash between the two side’s managers. Picking a winner here is almost impossible, I foresee goals though – quite a few of them. Play it safe and take Both Teams To Score at 11/10.

5/4 Fulham | 23/10 | Bristol City 21/10 (17:00)

Fulham put in a spirited performance last time out against table-topping Burnley as they went down 3-2 at Craven Cottage. The Cottagers led 2-1 at the break, however, Sam Vokes’ second penalty of the game followed by a 61st minute strike from Andre Gray cemented Burnley’s place at the top of the standings and plunged the West-Londoners further into the mire. Despite playing some decent football, Bristol City’s poor run of results against Wolves at the Molineux continued as they were sunk by a 94th minute Matt Doherty strike. The Robins went behind in the 47th minute but clawed their way back into the contest thanks to a close-range strike from Aden Flint. It wasn’t to be, however, as Doherty popped up in the final minute of stoppage time to give Wolves their second win in three games. Fulham look the better of the two teams on paper and have put in some decent performances of late without winning too many games – back the Londoners to claim all three points at 5/4.

13/10 Cardiff City | 22/10 | Ipswich Town 21/10 (17:00)

Cardiff City’s surprise defeat to Leeds United on Tuesday evening further underlined just how unpredictable this league can be. The Bluebirds were comprehensively outplayed on their own patch and missed a chance to move into the play-off places following their 2-0 defeat to the Yorkshire outfit. They will come up against Ipswich Town, who sit one place below the Welsh club on goal difference. Mick McCarthy’s men threw away a two-goal lead against rock-bottom Bolton Wanderers at the Macron Stadium in midweek as they drew 2-2. Both sides will be desperate to break into the top six this weekend – back Both Teams To Score at 9/10.

3/1 Rotherham | 23/10 | Derby County 19/20 (17:00)

Rotherham United made it three wins from three as they upset promotion-chasing Middlesbrough at the New York Stadium on Tuesday evening. The win moved the Millers to within a point of MK Dons who currently occupy 21st place on the log. A win for Niell Warnock’s side this weekend would almost certainly see them move out of the relegation zone for the first time in months. They won’t have it easy though, as they come up against a wildly unpredictable Derby County side. The Rams, who set the early season pace, slumped to a surprise 2-0 defeat against Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road in their midweek fixture. Goals from Tjaronn Chery and Gabriele Angella put a massive dent in Darren Wassall’s automatic promotion charge. Derby now sit seven points behind second-placed Middlesbrough and only five points clear of seventh-placed Cardiff City. Rotherham have been brilliant of late, and with Derby’s lack of consistency, I’m backing them on the Double Chance at 8/10.

9/20 Hull City | 31/10 | MK Dons 7/1 (17:00)

Hull City’s FA Cup exit at the hands of Arsenal may well be a blessing in disguise as Steve Bruce and his men can now focus solely on their promotion charge. The Tigers haven’t been in the greatest form of late, having only won two of their last six games. They have a chance to get their season back on track when they welcome an indifferent MK Dons side to the KC Stadium on Saturday evening. Dons will be kicking themselves following their 0-0 draw with relegation-bound Charlton Athletic at the Valley on Tuesday. The result left the Dons languishing one point above the relegation zone, with Rotherham United hot on their heels. Karl Robinson’s side have struggled for goals of late, and I just don’t see them scoring against Hull City who have the best defensive record in the league. Back Hull on the Matchbet + Both Teams To Score: No at 17/20.

18/10 Bolton Wanderers | 21/10 | Preston 21/20 (17:00)

Bolton managed to salvage a late draw last time out against Ipswich Town as Stephen Dobbie scored a 96th minute penalty to earn the Trotters a point, however, the beleaguered Lancashire club need wins, and they need them fast. There is some good news for the club though, a protracted takeover by a former club centre-forward Dean Holdsworth is widely expected to be completed in the next few days and will hopefully put an end to the club’s financial issues. Preston’s faint hopes of sealing a promotion place were dented following their 1-0 defeat at the hands of Nottingham Forest at the City Ground on Tuesday evening. The Lilywhites now sit in 10th place on the log, seven points off the promotion place with 10 games to play. They do have an excellent chance of making the ground up against a woeful Bolton side, back the away side at 21/20.

15/20 Nottingham Forest | 21/10 | Sheffield Wed. 18/10 (17:00)

A 37th minute goal Nelson Oliveira secured all three points for Nottingham Forest as they ran out 1-0 winners against Preston North End in their midweek fixture. The win ended a four-game losing streak which effectively put an end to their promotion hopes. They’ve struggled for goals this season, only finding the back of the net on 33 occasions. Simply not good enough for a team that should really be challenging for promotion. Sheffield Wednesday come into this game in a bit of a rut themselves – they’ve not managed a win in their last five games and look in real danger of slipping out of the promotions places. They did manage a draw against Brighton and Hove Albion last time out, however, their inability to win games will almost certainly see them drop out of the top six. I can’t pick a winner here, the draw offers decent value at 21/10 though – get on!

27/20 QPR | 23/10 | Brentford 19/10 (17:00)

QPR kept their faint hopes of securing a play-off place alive as they ran out deserved 2-0 winners last time out against Derby County. They’ve moved up to 11th place, nine points off Sheffield Wednesday who currently occupy sixth place. They’ll need to find more consistency though, as they’ve only won two of their last six games. They come up against Brentford side who are in freefall at the moment. They were handed an embarrassing 2-1 home defeat last Saturday by Charlton. The Bees have now lost five of their last six games and they’re in real danger of being dragged into a relegation scrap. Brentford have been terrible of late, and they don’t look as though they’ll be turning the corner any time soon. Back QPR to win here at 27/20.

18/10 Huddersfield | 21/10 | Burnley 15/10 (17:00)

Huddersfield Town bounced back following two consecutive defeats as they hammered Reading 3-1 at John Smith’s Stadium on Tuesday evening. Goals from Nahki Wells, Jamie Paterson and Flo Bojaj put an end to Reading’s five-game unbeaten run as the Terriers put some daylight between themselves and the bottom seven clubs. Burnley consolidated their place atop the Championship standings following their exhilarating 3-2 win over relegation-threatened Fulham on Tuesday evening. Andre Gray scored the winner in the 61st minute as he claimed his 22nd league goal of the season. Burnley have won five of their last five games and don’t look like stopping now – Burnley to win at 15/10 is this week’s banker!

Sunday 13 March

14/10 Wolves | 21/10 | Birmingham City 2/1 (15:15)

Wolves have just emerged from a bit of rut, winning two of their last three games to move up to 12th position on the log. They needed a 94th minute Matt Doherty strike on Tuesday to sink relegation-threatened Bristol City. Not the most convincing victory, however, Kenny Jackett will take them any way they come. They go up against a Birmingham City side who have struggled over the last few weeks. They went down last time out to a Blackburn Rovers side who have turned a corner of late. The Blues’ have only notched up two wins in their last six games as their promotion charge falters at a crucial juncture in the season. Both teams have been indifferent of late, and the draw looks the most likely result at 21/10.

9/2 Charlton | 11/4 | Middlesbrough 6/10 (17:00)

Charlton missed out on a golden opportunity to ease their relegation woes as they drew 0-0 against 21st placed MK Dons on Tuesday. The Addicks are currently six points adrift of safety and look as though they’ll be plying their trade in the relative obscurity of League One next season. They take on a Middlesbrough side who suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Rotherham United in midweek. Aitor Karanka knows how important this game is as dropping points will open the door for Brighton and Hove Albion to climb above them into second place. As much as I’d love to see a Charlton win, I just don’t see it happening. Back Boro at 6/10.

Written by Jason Dewey

Championship Picks

Blackburn BTTS 11/10
Fulham WIN 5/4
Cardiff BTTS 9/10
Rotherham WIN/DRAW 8/10
Hull WIN + BTTS: NO 17/20
Preston WIN 21/20
Nottingham Forest DRAW 21/10

QPR WIN 27/20
Burnley WIN 15/10
Wolves DRAW 21/10
Middlesbrough WIN 6/10