There’s drama at both ends of the Championship table as we embark on the final 10 (or 11 in some cases) matches of the season.
Each weekend seemingly takes on greater importance as the season edges towards spring. This weekend, by that logic, is pretty significant. So, let’s take a wander through some of the fixtures…
HULL CITY vs NORWICH CITY
Hull are still teetering on the brink. Three points separates the Tigers from the relegation zone, but Nigel Adkins’ side have taken seven points from their last five matches and look to be heading in the right direction.
Norwich have drawn their last five league matches. Daniel Farke’s side have been tough to beat this season, though they have not found the balance beaten resilience and attacking flair. Only four teams have scored fewer goals than the Canaries, who have not found the net in their last 180 minutes of football.
I fancy a tight game here. Every point is precious for Hull at the moment, and there’s no reason to believe we will see a different approach from Norwich. It might be a 13th draw of the season for Farke's men.
TIP: Under 2.5 goals @ 7/10
READING vs LEEDS UNITED
Reading have won just once in 15 matches. Jaap Stam’s side average the second-highest possession in the league, but have too often failed to convert that into quality opportunities. The Berkshire club are just five points clear of the relegation places.
The visitors are struggling, too. Back-to-back 3-0 defeats has made it one win in 12 Championship outings, and virtually extinguished any hopes of a dramatic late-season surge towards the playoff places.
I expect Leeds to try to tighten things up a bit for this one. It was a one-goal game when they met earlier in the season, I see no reason why this would be any different.
TIP: Under 2.5 goals @ 10/13
QUEENS PARK RANGERS vs Sunderland
Chris Coleman saw his Sunderland side dispatched by Aston Villa last time out. The Black Cats are now four points off safety, having conceded 13 goals in their last six Championship matches. Time is running out for Coleman to hit on a winning formula if Sunderland are to avoid dropping into League One.
QPR are without a win in three. That included an impressive, midweek draw with in-form Derby, however, which at least partially compensated for the drubbing they suffered at the hands of Nottingham Forest last weekend.
This one is a home win for me. QPR come into this with a bit of confidence after their midweek result, and I think Ian Holloway’s side will create plenty against this Sunderland back line.
TIP: QPR to win @ 23/25
MILLWALL vs Brentford
This is a meeting of two in-form teams. It’s a definitive match in both of their seasons, in fact, with Brentford just one point ahead of their hosts, who are only six points behind the last playoff place. Millwall are unbeaten in 10, while the Bees have won three of four.
Brentford’s top-scorer, Ollie Watkins, is the man to watch in this one. Millwall have conceded just eight goals in their unbeaten streak, but the gifted 22-year-old is capable of creating against even the steeliest defences and could be the player to turn this massive match.
Millwall have lost just thrice at home all season. This will be a challenge for the home side, but I fancy them to avoid defeat at the very least.
TIP: Millwall to win or match to be drawn @ 4/9
Preston North End vs FULHAM
Fulham have not lost in 14 Championship matches, scoring 35 and conceding just 10 in the process. The west London club will be looking to the automatic places – which they are only five points off – as they look increasingly comfortable in the playoff spots.
Preston have notched 14 fewer points over that period. Alex Neil’s side have dropped out of the top six, but are only one point off sixth-placed Middlesbrough. A crucial victory in midweek sets this match up perfectly for the hosts.
It’s impossible to go against Fulham in this form. I was surprised to see their price as long as it is for a victory.
TIP: Fulham to win @ 11/8