We are fast approaching the halfway point in the Championship season and the focus this weekend will undoubtedly be at Bramall Lane, where Paul Heckingbottom takes charge of Sheffield United for the first time since being named permanent manager.
Heckingbottom enjoyed an interim spell in charge of the Blades last season, but has now been handed the reins on a permanent basis following the sacking of Slavisa Jokanovic during the week – a dismissal that came despite United securing a 1-0 victory at Reading on Tuesday.
That ended a four-match winless run for the Blades and Heckingbottom will now be hoping to steer his side to back-to-back Championship victories for the first time since September when they play host to Bristol City on Sunday.
The Robins could prove the ideal first opponents for Heckingbottom, as they have lost four of their last five away fixtures in the Championship, failing to score in three of those defeats.
Couple that with United having kept back-to-back clean sheets and a home win to nil at 7/5 could represent good value. The Blades also won 1-0 when the two sides last met at Bramall Lane in the FA Cup back in February.
Roaring Tigers to Maintain Winning Run
The bulk of this weekend’s Championship action takes place on Saturday, with nine matches scheduled, including improving Hull City’s home clash with Millwall.
Hull have won three matches on the spin against Barnsley, Birmingham City and Cardiff City to move three points clear of the relegation zone, while Grant McCann’s side have also not conceded during that sequence.
Millwall will prove a tough nut to crack for the Tigers, as only Derby County have drawn more Championship matches than the Lions this season, although that means victories have also proved elusive – with Gary Rowett’s side having won just two of their last nine matches on the road.
This could prove a game of fine margins, but the momentum appears to be with Hull, who can be backed at 33/20 to make it back-to-back wins at the MKM Stadium for the first time this season.
Home Comforts Key to Terriers Success
Huddersfield’s somewhat surprising play-off push is largely down to an impressive home record they will be hoping to extend when Middlesbrough visit the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday.
The Terriers have picked up 19 of their 28 Championship points to date this season on home turf – a sequence that includes their ongoing five-match unbeaten run in West Yorkshire.
High-flying West Bromwich Albion were disposed of in Huddersfield’s most recent home fixture and Carlos Corberan will expect his side to deliver another three points when out of sorts Boro head to town this weekend – the home win is available at 7/4.
The Teessiders are without a win in five and are yet to receive a new manager boost following the appointment of Chris Wilder, with the former Sheff United boss having only taken one point from his two matches since succeeding Neil Warnock in the dugout.
Swans to Add to Reading’s Woes
After a difficult start to the season under new boss Russell Martin, Swansea City now appear to have found their feet, especially at home where they are unbeaten in eight matches across all competitions.
Reading can only dream of such consistency, as the Royals have lost five of their last seven Championship matches, and that coupled with a recent six-point deduction means Veljko Paunovic’s side are now hovering dangerously just above the relegation zone.
Saturday’s trip to South Wales is unlikely to bring an end to Reading’s woes, as the Swans are unbeaten in the last 19 meetings between the two sides, a run that stretches back to September 2008.
That should fill Swansea supporters with plenty of confidence, with the home win on Saturday available at 4/5.
*All odds correct at time of writing