With just two months left in the Championship season, the race for automatic promotion, the battle for playoff places and the scrap to avoid relegation are all still up in the air.
At the summit, a run of six straight wins has Norwich City sitting pretty. The Canaries are four points above second place Sheffield United and five ahead of Leeds United in third.
Where Leeds’ form has stuttered of late, Norwich and Sheffield United have gone from strength to strength, dropping just two points out of the last 30 between them. But with the Whites at home to struggling Millwall, Leeds will be hoping their side can recover ground on the leaders this weekend.
Middlesbrough vs Norwich City
Sadly for Leeds fans hoping for a slip up from their rivals, Norwich appear to be facing Middlesbrough at just the right time, with Tony Pulis’ side losing each of their last three games. After a strong start to the season, Boro now face a battle to maintain their playoff position and with Norwich as profitable away from home as they are at Carrow Road, the Canaries look very good value at 6/4 to make it six wins from their last eight on their travels.
Reading vs Preston North End
Defeat for Boro would leave them vulnerable to dropping out of the top six, with both the sides immediately below them in fine form. Aston Villa have won their last four on the trot while seventh placed Preston haven’t tasted defeat in the league since New Year’s Day, a run stretching back 13 matches.
Preston are away at a Reading side despite for points for a very different reason. The Royals are just one point and one place above the relegation zone with eight games to play. Preston have triumphed in each of their last six away games and they should be backed to record another victory at the Madjeski Stadium.
Derby County vs Rotherham United
Like Preston, Derby County are another side with playoff ambitions but the Rams have struggled recently, picking up just six points from a possible 21 in February and March. Frank Lampard will be desperate for his side to return to winning ways and with Rotherham United next up they have a massive chance to do just that.
Rotherham have won only once on the road this season, losing eleven and drawing six of their 17 other fixtures. Whilst that solitary victory came last time out against Queens Park Rangers, the Millers have struggled badly away at top ten opponents this campaign and despite their wobbles, Derby should be backed for all three points at Pride Park.
Sheffield United vs Bristol City
Of the other sides in the playoff chasing pack, Bristol City look the least likely to put together a run of results that would see them extend their season. The Robins were on fire in January and early February but since then have failed to win any of their last five. It’s hard to see that poor run changing on Saturday when they face Sheffield United at Brammal Lane. The Blades will be full of confidence after their massive win at Leeds United last time out and with Billy Sharp in goalscoring form, there looks to be only one winner of this clash with United understandably firm favourites.
Stoke City vs Sheffield Wednesday
Elsewhere, wins have been hard to come by for Stoke City this year, with the Potters managing just two since December. They have drawn an incredible 17 matches in the Championship this season including six of their last seven games, the last three of which have all finished goalless. Their opponents on Saturday are Sheffield Wednesday whose results have picked up markedly under new manager Steve Bruce. The Owls are unbeaten in their last 11 games in the division but have also racked up their fair share of draws with five in their last nine. Everything points to another low scoring stalemate at the Britannia.
Top of Championship Form Guide (based on last five games)
Norwich City – WWWWW
Aston Villa – DWWWW
Sheffield United – WDWWW
Preston North End – WDWWW
Sheffield Wednesday – WDDWW
Bottom of Championship Form Guide (based on last five games)
Bristol City – LLDLD
Birmingham City – WLLLL
Bolton Wanderers – LLWLL
Swansea City – LLWLL
Ipswich Town – DLDDD