The penultimate weekend of Sky Bet Championship action of the season begins on Friday night and it does so with a match which could shape the remainder of the campaign for those chasing a top six berth in the competition.
QPR play host to Sheffield United with the visitors looking to distance themselves from the chasing pack in the race for sixth spot. Technically the hosts can still finish in the top six but they would need to win this and their final match, hope Fulham beat Sheffield United next week and overturn a 10 goal disadvantage on goal difference which isn’t happening.
Where to watch
The match will be shown live and in full on the Sky Sports Main Event and the Sky Sports Football channels. The build-up begins at 7pm and kick off in the capital is at 7.45pm.
A season which at the midway point looked like being a special one for QPR is extremely likely to end in disappointment and with another campaign in the second tier awaiting them. They have already reacted to that with the news that Mark Warburton will leave the club at the end of the season and you get the feeling he won’t be the only one to be departing the Shepherd’s Bush area of London before the new term kicks off.
Eight defeats in 11 matches has seen a promising campaign turn into a dismal damp squib and while they kept their season alive with a win against Derby a couple of weeks ago, the loss to Stoke City last week was as good as the final nail in their coffin. Warburton has been at Rangers for a while and I’m sure he will be determined to go out on a high in his final home match in charge so unlike some teams on the proverbial beach, the hosts do have some sort of motivation here.
When the season started Sheffield United were expected to be pushing for automatic promotion. That hasn’t happened and actually they still have a bit of work to do in order to secure a second chance at an immediate return to the Premier League. The first third of the season was an absolute mess for them and if they do miss out on the top six then it is that period which will be the reason why, although they aren’t exactly finishing the season like a side who are powering back to the big time.
If Sheffield United are to miss out on the play-offs this term then their away form would be the reason why. They head to London having not won any of their last six on their travels and given that they have the champions elect Fulham next week, albeit at home, you would imagine they will need to get three points here to be comfortable in the race for the top six. The Blades have scored just two goals in their last six on their travels and while injuries haven’t helped them, that needs to change.
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QPR are missing a raft of players including a trio of goakeepers in Jordan Archer, Seny Dieng and David Marshall so Kieran Westwood will continue between the sticks. Chris Willock, Moses Odubajo and Rob Dickie are also out while Yoann Barbet faces a fitness test.
Sheffield United could get their captain Billy Sharp back into the starting XI for the first time since the international break after he came back from injury last week. John Fleck and George Baldock are being monitored.
This is one of those matches where the odds have been skewed in terms of a team that needs to win as opposed to one who in all reality are on the beach and as such Sheffield United are odds on favourites. I can’t be backing a side who haven’t won in six away games and only scored two goals in those matches at solid odds on though. In saying that, while QPR might be more up for this than some teams who are in their position given that it is their last home game and the last home match in charge for Mark Warburton, I can’t be trusting a side who have lost eight of their last 11 either.
The bet I like here is for under 2.5 goals. As I highlighted, Sheffield United, who are the favourites to win the match and the team most likely to be pushing to do so, have two goals in their last six matches away from home. They only have six in their last eight anywhere so they are not free scoring at the minute. QPR aren’t going much better. They have six goals in their last eight matches as well and when you think winning is the only aim for Sheffield United here rather than looking good and running up the score, I think under 2.5 goals is the right bet in this one.
Back Under 2.5 goals for a 3/10 stake at 1.93 with BetVictor
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