The Sky Bet Championship weekend got off to an electric start on Friday night which has whetted the appetite for the 10 matches which take place in the division on Saturday on what looks like another pivotal day across the table.
As with most Saturdays there is one match on the TV to get the action up and running and then the usual methods of keeping up to date with the rest of them will need to be utilised but it could be well worth exploring those means.
Saturday’s fixtures are as follows: (3pm unless stated – UK TV in brackets)
Barnsley v Fulham (12.30 – Sky Main Event & Sky Football)
Birmingham City v Hull City
Blackburn Rovers v Bristol City
Blackpool v Swansea City
AFC Bournemouth v Derby County
Cardiff City v Preston North End
Coventry City v Sheffield United
Millwall v Middlesbrough
Nottingham Forest v Reading
Peterborough United v Stoke City
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The televised match on Saturday is a massive one at both ends of the table. The leaders Fulham look to open up a pretty ridiculous 16 point gap at the top for a few hours at least when they head to Oakwell to face a Barnsley side who pulled off a great escape a couple of seasons ago and who have the eye for repeating that this term. There is another match which affects both ends of the table at the Vitality Stadium where AFC Bournemouth will look to get their promotion charge back on track when they host Derby County, who are in the same boat as Barnsley with regards to a hope of escaping trouble from a seemingly dead position. The other match at the bottom sees Peterborough United looking to revive life in their survival bid when they host Stoke City.
Best of the Rest
It isn’t all about automatic promotion and relegation in this division this season though. The race for the top six is getting very interesting and with the sides in sixth and seventh not playing until Sunday Millwall and Middlesbrough both have the chance to enhance their positions when they meet at The New Den. Blackburn Rovers have so far held the chasing pack at bay and a win at home to Bristol City will assist them in their bid to continue to do that. Sheffield United in fifth head to a Coventry City side who are just showing signs of fading away a touch. Nottingham Forest are the other side involved in the top six chase. They host a Reading side who are the ones the bottom three are chasing in their bids to stay up.
I was at Coventry City on Tuesday night and while they knocked the ball around well enough and drove into dangerous areas in midfield you never really got the impression that they were going to score against Luton Town and that was how it played out. I highlighted how their home form has fizzled out since a wonderful start to the campaign and there weren’t really many signs of that changing in midweek and I’m not convinced it is going to be any different on Saturday afternoon.
That is because they play a Sheffield United side who have clicked nicely into gear. Initially I thought it was their home form which is keeping them going but actually their away form is standing up pretty well too. Since December they have won at Fulham and held Huddersfield Town and their only two defeats in that time on their travels were to Derby County and Millwall, both of whom were flying at the time they went there. There were excuses on both occasions in that the Derby game was the first Blades league game after a month off due to Covid and the Millwall loss came less than 72 hours after they held a physical Blackburn side. The midweek match was far less taxing on the Blades this time around and I noticed they had the likes of Conor Hourihane, Iliman Ndiaye and Oli McBurnie on the bench in that match so if they want to rotate players they have quality to come in. I’m less convinced Coventry have that luxury so I’ll take a Sheffield United win here with the draw cover that is available.
Back Sheffield United (0AH) to beat Coventry City for a 3/10 stake at 1.84 with BetVictor
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