32Red’s betting expert Jack Milner takes a look the weekend’s big games in the Championship as the race for the play-offs hots up
Preston boss Alex Neil had mixed emotions over the Easter weekend, with his side ending a torrid run of form with a thumping 4-0 defeat of already-relegated Ipswich.
But PNE followed that with Monday’s disappointing 2-0 defeat to Lancashire rivals Wigan at the DW Stadium.
The Lilywhites boss has tasked his side with achieving a top-half finish and three points at the weekend will go a long way to ensuring North End finish the campaign in the ‘right’ half of the table.
32Red make PNE the 6/4 favourites when bidding to continue their excellent home record at Deepdale for Sheffield Wednesday’s visit across the Pennines on Saturday; the visitors 5/2 and the draw 2/1.
Official sponsors 32Red have a range of specials for the game, including 7/2 for PNE to be leading at both half-time and full-time and 4/1 to beat Wednesday to nil.
Callum Robinson netted twice on his return from injury against Ipswich and I expect him to be a constant threat. Back him at 11/2 with 32Red to score anytime in a home win, and 6/1 to break the deadlock at Deepdale.
The Championship play-off picture has been blown wide-open thanks to Leeds’ recent slip-ups and Aston Villa’s incredible 10-game winning sequence, which has seen the pair look increasingly likely to meet in next month’s play-off final at Wembley.
Leeds are now odds-against to be playing Premier League football next term after seemingly missing out on automatic promotion.
The Whites threw away a lead to lose against the 10 men of Wigan last Friday. That defeat, coupled with Sheffield United’s three-point cushion in second place and far superior goal difference, means they look set to rely on the play-offs.
A solitary point separates the trio of Derby, Middlesbrough and Bristol City, with the latter two meeting in a huge six-pointer at Ashton Gate on Saturday.
The Robins do have a game in hand however, but are nevertheless seen as the underdogs of the trio for both a play-off spot and indeed promotion (9/4 and 14/1) over the 32Red sponsored sides of Derby (11/10 and 7/1) and Boro (2/1 and 12/1) respectively.
Bristol City are 9/4 to be in the play-offs, but would surely struggle against a Leeds side brimming with quality in a two- legged semi-final, hence why the Robins are 14/1 for promotion as opposed to 6/4 with 32Red for their Yorkshire counterparts.
A lot will depend on Saturday’s encounter at Ashton Gate with Bristol City the marginal 11/8 favourites to beat Derby on home soil; The Rams 2/1 and the draw 5/2.
A point would suit Boro who will fancy their chances of claiming all three points when hosting a Reading side with little left to play for when travelling to The Riverside at the weekend; 8/13 favourites with official sponsors 32Red, the visitors 4/1 and the draw 11/4.
No side will carry more momentum into the play-offs than Aston Villa, with Dean Smith’s side winning their last 10 league games on the bounce. That run of form has seen them shorten to 15/8 from 7/1 with 32Red to be playing Premier League football next season and I think they represent excellent value when travelling to Elland Road on Sunday.