The race for the top two took another twist on Saturday as Aston Villa’s march towards automatic promotion was stumped by a 2-0 defeat to a Ryan Sessegnon-inspired Fulham. Steve Bruce’s side will be looking to put things right on Tuesday, but face a very tricky home game with Preston North End at Villa Park. PNE surprised many (but not me, find out why here) by holding leaders Wolves to a 1-1 draw at Deepdale at the weekend, despite playing most of the second half with ten men. That steel serves the Lilywhites well on the road, and this will be no walk in the park for the Villains. Every team chasing second place will go through a blip, and I think this might be Villa’s turn, so another draw to further halt their momentum looks a good bet at 9/4 with William Hill.
Sheffield United ‘s play-off push is wobbling thanks to a run of just one win in four, but if they could hand pick a home game to put them back in the top six picture, then they would probably have Queens Park Rangers high up on their wish list. QPR have only won away from home twice since this time last year, and while Sheffield United’s form at Bramall Lane isn’t great, 3/4 (Paddy Power) for a side to beat a travelsick QPR is in tip-of-the-day territory.
Another play-off hopeful that should be in your midweek accumulator is Middlesbrough, who face Hull City at the Riverside. Hull’s FA Cup defeat to Chelsea on Saturday laid all their problems out in the open: They can’t score, they’re confidence has been shot to pieces, and they have been ravaged by injuries in recent weeks. Looking at their fixture list, they have winnable home games against the likes of Barnsley and Millwall coming up, so they have bigger games like this one on the horizon, but this is a golden opportunity for Tony Pulis’ Boro. They can close the gap on sixth place with three points, and are 8/11 to seal the deal. Easy money.
Nottingham Forest will be hoping to score for the first time in nearly seven hours of Championship football when they welcome Reading to the City Ground. Times are also tough for Reading honcho Jaap Stam, who could be next in line for the sack if he doesn’t get anything here. A draw would edge both sides one point closer to safety, and with both teams struggling for form, under 2.5 goals looks a certainty too, so put them together for a healthy-looking 14/5 double.
Time now for a look at Sheffield Wednesday, who travel to Millwall on the back of a fantastic home win over Derby, and a commendable draw with Swansea in the FA Cup. The Owls are taking decent form to south London and they are also packing a great recent record at The Den, where they have won on three of their last four visits. However, it would take a brave punter to bet on an away side to take a maximum from one of the Championship’s toughest stomping grounds, as the Lions have lost just three times at home this season. With all those variables in mind, I’m going to be a touch conservative by taking the double chance of either a Sheffield Wednesday win or the draw, which looks like a strong bet at 8/11 as Millwall have drawn four of their last five at home.