It looks set to be another entertaining weekend in the Championship that will inevitably provide more questions than answers from what is shaping up to be another unpredictable season.
The action starts with a ding-dong Yorkshire derby on Friday night when Leeds host Sheffield United. This marks the first time the pair have met since 2011 and features two teams right in the thick of the promotion hunt.
Despite losing in the EFL Cup in midweek, Leeds have been good this season, winning 3-0 at Bristol City last weekend, while third-placed United have been arguably the surprise package of the campaign after finally winning promotion last term.
This has all the hallmarks of a classic derby encounter and although the momentum might be behind the Blades, home advantage could sway the result Leeds’ way at 5/4.
Saturday lunchtime’s game is also a meeting between neighbours when the Steel City’s other side Wednesday go up against Barnsley.
The pressure is on Carlos Carvahal to get a result and there are suggestions his Hillsborough reign could end with another defeat. As expected, the Tykes are struggling but Paul Heckingbottom continues to do an admirable job despite scant resources.
Heckingbottom also has the extra motivation of the Owls being one of the teams he played for although the difference between the sides on paper suggests this could be the game Wednesday snap out of their funk, with the home side 5/7 to win.
Of the eight matches at 3pm on Saturday, there appears like there could be some home bankers on the cards. Fulham’s clash with Bolton certainly falls into that category despite the Trotters’ recent improvements.
The Cottagers lost at Villa last weekend but were unbeaten in four before that while Bolton are on an unprecedented two-game unbeaten streak.
Craven Cottage has not been too kind to Fulham this season but they are a classy outfit and should take the points at 5/12. Cardiff should also do the business against Millwall.
The Lions are plucky contenders but the Bluebirds look too good and should take the points at 20/29.
Preston will also fancy themselves to claim the points when Brentford make the trip to Lancashire.
The Deepdalers saw their nine-game unbeaten run come to an end at Wolves last time out while Brentford are making steady progress after a tough start and are five unbeaten.
Deepdale is a bit of a fortress and despite the Bees finding their buzz, a home win appears hard to look past at an excellent 6/5.
Leaders Wolves are also in action and will have gained plenty of confidence from Tuesday’s League Cup defeat to Manchester City.
They travel to 17th-placed Queens Park Rangers who have not won in seven and seem to be treading water as Ian Holloway continues to tinker with his formation.
Wolves won this fixture last term and it appears tough to look past anything different this time around so eye the away win at 5/4.
Norwich are another team who pushed a Premier League outfit close in the week, eventually going down 2-1 at Arsenal in extra-time.
The Canaries have not lost in eight in the Championship although Saturday’s opponents Derby are starting to get their act together after a slow start under Gary Rowett.
Having lost 3-0 at Carrow Road last term, the Rams’ run is likely to come to an end so back Daniel Farke’s side for another victory at 11/10.
Looking at the bottom of the table and with 24th-placed Bolton appearing set for another defeat, those around them will be keen to take advantage.
Sunderland are currently one spot above the Trotters but face a tough ask when Bristol City come to town. The Robins may have lost 3-0 to Leeds but bounced back with a brilliant 4-1 League Cup win over Crystal Palace.
Simon Grayson’s decision to leave Preston for the Stadium of Light is looking more and more questionable by the week and this could be another tough afternoon for the Mackems, especially with their injury issues.
City are a tempting 8/5 to take the points and while Sunderland could struggle, third-bottom Burton can shine against Ipswich.
The Tractor Boys’ fine start seems to have ground to a halt, losing their derby with Norwich last time out, and their recent slide suggests it is going to be another season of mid-table mediocrity in Suffolk.
There will be more excitement at the Pirelli as the Brewers again look to upset the odds by surviving in the Championship. This is the type of game they will be targeting and 7/4 seems a good price for a home win despite Nigel Clough’s men losing the fixture last term.
The other game at 3pm features two teams who started the campaign with promotion hopes but seem to be sliding into monotony by the week.
Reading are in danger of being dragged into a relegation battle after missing out in last season’s play-off final while 13th-placed Middlesbrough still seem to be adapting to Garry Monk’s regime.
Jaap Stam’s men are usually decent at home and this could be the match that starts their season so take the 43/20 on offer for them to make things even worse for the lacklustre Teessiders.
Finally on Saturday and the late game sees Hull City entertain Nottingham Forest, both of whom won last time out.
The Tigers have lost just one of their last seven while the Reds have won two of their last three, but those victories came at home and they have largely struggled on the road.
Both Leonid Slutsky and Mark Warburton are canny operators although the home side seems to be building nicely and 1/1 is a tempting price for a team getting their act together.
The weekend started with a derby and that’s how it ends on Sunday lunchtime when Aston Villa travel three-and-a-half miles to Birmingham City.
Neither outfit has had the seasons they will have expected but, as the cliche dictates, the past is likely to count for nothing as form goes out the window.
Interestingly, the Blues have won their last two at home and are 21/10 to make it a hat-trick while Villa are 7/5. However, this game ended in a draw last term and the sensible bet could be a repeat at 11/5.
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