This roller-coaster Championship season continues over the weekend and plenty of twists and turns are expected at both ends of the table.
First things first and leaders Wolves kick things off on Friday with a trip to South Yorkshire to take on Sheffield Wednesday.
It has been a shocking season for the Owls and Carlos Carvalhal’s job is believed to be on the line. A run of five without a win has seen Wednesday drop to 15th and another poor result could see the Portuguese axed.
Wolves saw their momentum halted last weekend when they could only manage a 0-0 draw against Sunderland and Nuno Espirito Santo is sure to be plotting a response.
Anything could happen between these sides but it seems sensible to stick with the leaders and almost foolhardy to ignore a rare chance to back Wolves at the odds against price of 11/10. Striker Leo Bonatini is 27/20 to score at anytime.
At 3pm on Saturday there are 10 games from the second tier and there appears plenty of value to be had.
The price that you’d hope to be bigger, judging by the situations of the sides involved, is the 1/1 for 21st-placed Bolton to get the better of bottom club Burton.
Phil Parkinson is doing a masterful job on a shoestring at the Macron and although they have lost two of their last three, Bolton have not tasted defeat at home since September.
The Brewers are also amongst the least wealthy in the Championship and it appears Nigel Clough’s lack of resources is finally starting to overshadow his undoubted quality as a coach.
All things considered, the home win does seem a really handy price when eyeing the pair’s recent form and maybe the Trotters can do so to zero at 33/10.
Sunderland are also in action and could get out of the drop zone with a win over Fulham if results elsewhere go in their favour.
Chris Coleman seems to be getting more of a tune out of his players since taking over and if they stop shooting themselves in the foot, they could be heading for safety.
Saturday could be a tough one, especially considering Fulham have won three of their last four and seem to finally be emerging from the funk that has plagued them this term.
Coleman and his assistant Kit Symonds will go out all guns blazing against their former club, but the away win seems most likely, with 27/20 representing a decent price.
The other match at the bottom that stands out on Saturday is 22nd-placed Birmingham against Queens Park Rangers who are 19th.
It has been a season to forget for the Blues but Rangers are slowly sleepwalking their way into trouble, having not won in six. Birmingham themselves have won only once in their last nine, but that was at home, and 29/20 for another three points seems decent, with 1-0 an option at 13/2.
With Wolves and Cardiff playing at different times, third-placed Bristol City are the highlight at 3pm on Saturday and should have enough to beat Nottingham Forest.
Three straight wins has put them bang in promotion contention and they will be keen to keep tabs on those above them. Forest themselves beat Bolton 3-2 last time out although they are a mixed bag on the road and the Robins should triumph at 10/11.
However, the big game involving the top teams comes at Pride Park where fourth-placed Derby entertain the team directly below them, Aston Villa.
Both are former English champions and would never have expected to find themselves in such a situation during their heyday. Things are different now and it is sure to be a titanic tussle when they clash.
It seems hard to pick a winner so it may instead be worth checking out the scorer markets and, with 12 to his name so far this term, the Rams’ Matej Vydra is 27/4 to score first.
Another eye-catching fixture is Preston against Sheffield United, two sides who seem to be heading in opposing directions.
The Blades rode the momentum they gained from their League One promotion last term in the early months of the campaign before slipping in recent weeks, failing to win in four.
They travel across the Pennines to meet a resurgent PNE who are unbeaten in five and back in the play-off hunt. Alex Neil’s side are good on their own patch at Deepdale and the 13/10 on offer for a home win seems too good to turn down.
Of the remaining games at 3pm on Saturday, Ipswich look a particularly good price to be the victors when Reading head to Suffolk.
Mick McCarthy and his motley crew have caused some surprises this season and are packed with goals, most notably Martyn Waghorn who has 10 to his name.
They are also brilliantly inconsistent, something that is sure to have been noticed by Royals boss Jaap Stam whose team appear to be awaking from their slumber after struggling to shake off the effects of last term’s play-off final heartache.
Although Reading are unbeaten in five, Ipswich have taken seven points from their last three at Portman Road and are a handy 8/5 to claim another victory.
Finally, the focus switches to south Wales where Cardiff take on Hull City and their new manager Nigel Adkins at 5:30pm.
Adkins’ super-sunny persona may have seen him ridiculed in some quarters, but he has a habit of getting results at this level and made a winning start with last weekend’s 3-2 win over Brentford.
Cardiff will not be intimidated, though, and having won their last three at home, they will be confident of extending that run and maintaining their promotion chase.
Neil Warnock is sure to have his troops firing on all cylinders and it may well turn out to be a home win with both scoring at 5/2.
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