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Wilder to enjoy Steel City success

Wilder to enjoy Steel City success

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Sheffield United can get their promotion push back on track by beating Sheffield Wednesday in the Steel City derby on Friday.

There has not been a Sheffield team in the Premier League for over a decade and the Blades remain the more likely side to return to the top-flight despite a poor recent run.

Chris Wilder only guided United to promotion from League One last term but they carried that momentum into the current campaign and headed the table as recently as mid-November.

However, a run of only one victory in their last nine Championship matches has left them outside the play-offs, although they did beat Ipswich Town in the third round of the FA Cup on Saturday.

The Owls are in even worse form than their city rivals and contrived to lose 3-0 to Burton Albion at Hillsborough on New Year’s Day.

They have appointed Jos Luhukay as their manager since that setback but it may take a while for the Dutchman’s methods to bear fruit so a United win by a one-goal margin may be worth checking out at odds of 11/2.

On Saturday, Cardiff City should return to winning ways after a four-match losing run over the festive period when they host rock-bottom Sunderland.

The Black Cats had been showing signs of life following Chris Coleman’s appointment but a home loss against Barnsley has put them back in the mire and they are 5/4 to be relegated this season.

Cardiff are 6/5 to keep a clean sheet in the match.

Table-topping Wolves can complete the double over Barnsley by winning at odds of 20/29 at Oakwell. Alfred N’Diaye scored a stoppage-time winner for Wolves against the Tykes at Molineux and a repeat of that 2-1 scoreline on Saturday is available at 31/4.

Gary Rowett returns to St Andrew’s with his Derby County side in fine form and looking good for an automatic promotion spot. The Rams are 5/4 to go up this season.

It is just over a year since Birmingham City axed Rowett and they have been in freefall ever since under the guidance of Gianfranco Zola and then Harry Redknapp.

Steve Cotterill has at least lifted them off the foot of the table following back-to-back victories against Leeds United and Reading while they knocked Burton out of the FA Cup at the weekend.

Derby should be able to extend their excellent recent run though by beating the Blues by a two-goal margin – available at 11/2.

Bolton Wanderers have hit form recently, winning three of their last four fixtures to move clear of the drop-zone and can take something from the trip to Brentford.

Phil Parkinson’s side have been showing top-ten form following a dreadful start to the campaign which saw them pick up only two points from their first 11 fixtures.

Brentford have drawn 10 games already this term and another stalemate this weekend for the Bees can be backed at 16/5.

Bristol City and Norwich City have both played Premier League teams in the last week, the Robins losing narrowly to Manchester City on Tuesday and the Canaries holding Chelsea to a goalless draw in the FA Cup.

There are signs that Daniel Farke is finally starting to turn mid-table Norwich’s fortunes around as they have taken seven points from their last three Championship games.

Only relegation-threatened Birmingham, Bolton and Burton have scored fewer goals than Farke’s team though so a 1-0 win against a Bristol City team that lost their last league game 5-0 at Aston Villa may be worth betting on at 33/4.

Goals could also be in short supply at the Pirelli Stadium when Burton Albion host QPR. The Brewers have only found the net 20 times while Ian Holloway’s side have scored 28 goals so the odds on there being under 1.5 goals in this game should be taken up at 17/10.

QPR did beat Cardiff 2-1 on New Year’s Day to move six points clear of the relegation zone and they may be content to settle for a draw, available at 21/10, against Nigel Clough’s outfit.

Hull City are in danger of suffering back-to-back relegations with the appointment of Nigel Adkins failing to lift spirits at the KC Stadium.

The Tigers have not won any of their last five Championship fixtures but have enough of a goalscoring threat to beat a Reading team that is in even worse form.

The Royals are winless in seven encounters since beating Sunderland at the beginning of December and Hull can be backed at 1/1 to defeat them this weekend.

Leeds United have won six of their last 10 league matches but may have to settle for a draw (43/20) at Portman Road where Ipswich Town have a good record.

Mick McCarthy’s side have scored 23 goals on their own pitch this season and only Wolves have found the net more often at home.

Two of the pre-season promotion favourites, Middlesbrough and Fulham, are on the fringes of the play-offs after winning three of their four festive fixtures with the Cottagers scoring 12 goals in those matches.

Odds of 11/5 on there being more than 3.5 goals in this game look enticing while a Boro win and both teams to score is available at 59/20.

Millwall have still not won away from home this season and have picked up 24 of their 30 points at The New Den while Preston have a fine away record, only losing three of their 13 fixtures on the road.

Alex Neil’s side have drawn 10 matches already this term and the odds on this game ending all-square are 21/10.

Finally, Nottingham Forest, buoyed by their outstanding display when knocking Arsenal out of the FA Cup last weekend, may come back down to earth when they host Aston Villa.

Both teams have struggled for consistency all season but Villa have won their last two Championship fixtures and can be backed at 12/5 be promoted.

Forest have already lost six games at The City Ground and a victory for Steve Bruce’s team should not be ignored at 7/5.

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Mark Race Having worked in the media for nearly 30 years, Mark knows his sport inside out and at all levels. An avid football fan, Mark also has serious knowledge of the tennis world and is quick to point out value bets in a number of other sports.