Preston North End most improved side in Championship, while dramatic conclusion awaits the promotion race

Andrew Hughes scores for Preston against Millwall earlier in the season
Andrew Hughes scores for Preston against Millwall earlier in the season

32Red’s betting expert Jack Milner takes a look at this weekend’s Championship fixtures and the race for Premier League football next season

Preston’s unbeaten run continues in the Championship, and it’s a sign of how far the club have come with fans left disappointed by the goalless draw with Nottingham Forest last weekend. Alex Neil’s side are arguably the most improved side in the division and, as such, they can be backed at 7/4 to better Millwall at The New Den; the hosts likewise and 9/4 for the pair to play out a draw.

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32Red have a range of special for this game, with a repeat of the Norwich defeat 28/1 and perhaps over-priced for PNE to beat the hosts 3-1 in South London. For those impressed by North End’s much improved defence, they are 9/2 to beat Millwall to nil and 7/1 to win by the solitary goal.

Meanwhile, English football’s second tier consistently produces the most enthralling, dramatic and entertaining football on the planet and with just three points separating the leading five contenders at the top of the table, there are sure to be further twists and turns to come heading into the final quarter of the Championship season

Leeds were four points clear at the top of the table after last month’s 2-1 win at Rotherham, however a 3-1 loss to Norwich and subsequent struggles have seen them surrender that lead, with the Canaries now two points clear and the pair 1/2 joint favourites to be playing Premier League football next season.

Championship Promotion prices from 32Red

Leeds 1/2

Norwich 1/2

Sheffield United 4/5

West Brom 10/11

Middlesbrough 3/1

Bristol City 5/1

Derby 6/1

40/1 Bar

Norwich themselves, suffered a punishing 3-1 defeat at Preston earlier in the month, but bounced back with aplomb at the weekend beating Bolton 4-0 at the Macron. Daniel Farke’s side host Bristol City on Saturday and are 10/11 favourites with 32Red to further their lead at the top; the visitors 3/1 and the draw 5/2.

City are as short as 5/1 to go up at the end of the season after a sensational run of form that has seen the Robins move into a play-off spot, leap-frogging the well-fancied pair of Derby and Nottingham Forest in the process. They were far from disgraced at the weekend, losing 1-0 to Wolves in the FA Cup, but had previously won their last nine on the spin in all competitions and it will be fascinating to see if they can bounce back against the Canaries. 32Red are 10/11 for City to avoid defeat in East-Anglia and 5/6 to achieve a top-six finish this term.

If Bristol City are to miss out then it will invariably mean Nottingham Forest or more likely Derby will have taken a play-off berth from them, and Frank Lampard’s side look good value at 6/1 to go up and even money for a top-six finish.

Rams’ fans must wait until Monday when travelling to Nottingham Forest in the East-Midlands Derby and are 2/1 to secure both three points and local bragging rights at The City Ground; Forest 6/4 favourites with 32Red and the draw 9/4.

There should be much better fortunes for other 32Red sponsored clubs elsewhere however, with both Leeds and Boro fancies to win and win well no home soil. Leeds are 1/4 favourites when hosting relegation strugglers Bolton at Elland Road, whilst Boro are 8/11 when welcoming QPR to the North-East. The double pays 11/10 with 32Red and should oblige for favourite backers accordingly.

Those two games look relatively clear-cut, whereas the league’s standout fixture looks everything but, with little to choose from Sheffield United and West Brom when the pair meet in Saturday’s evening kick-off at the Hawthorns. The Baggies beat close rivals Aston Villa 2-0 away from home last weekend and back on home soil are 7/5 favourites to better the Blades; the visitors 2/1 and the draw 9/4.

The South Yorkshire side threw away a three-goal lead with ten minutes to go at Villa Park when last seen in front of the Sky Cameras, and a brilliant hat-trick from Blades’ striker Billy Sharp effectively in vein. He remains their biggest asset in the final third and looks a fair price at both 9/2 to break the deadlock, and 13/8 to score anytime in the West Country.

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