Sheffield United look increasingly likely to be relegated from the Championship and they have some tough fixtures ahead of them over the closing weeks of the season.
They begin today at Bramall Lane with the visit of Leeds and face both QPR and Cardiff before Easter, with trips to Reading and Swansea also still to make.
The Blades have won only one of their last 16 league matches and are six points from safety and it is hard to see them picking up maximum points against Simon Grayson’s side.
That is reflected in the odds, of course, with Leeds a fraction over even money to gain a victory which would keep them right in the hunt for automatic promotion.
Leeds have lost only twice in 13 away league games but must take note that Sheffield United’s last two home wins were against two of their promotion rivals, Swansea and Nottingham Forest.
There are usually goals scored when Leeds are involved and you can back both teams to score in this lunchtime fixture at 4-5.
Barnsley once again showed their capacity to upset the top teams by holding Cardiff to a 2-2 draw in south Wales last Sunday, but I fancy Reading to get the better of them at Oakwell.
The Royals have scored eight goals in winning their last two league games and gave a good account of themselves in their 1-0 FA Cup defeat at Manchester City.
They are full of confidence and Shane Long is one of the division’s form players.
The Irishman is available at 11-2 to open the scoring.
Doncaster Rovers did well to hold Forest to a scoreless draw at the City Ground, but today they face the Championship’s best defence in QPR without their top scorer, so goals are likely to be hard to come by.
Rangers are the runaway leaders and seem certain to be promoted as long as they are not punished with a points deduction over alleged transfer irregularities.
They are top by a distance on merit, though, and will be heavily backed to win at the Keepmoat.
Norwich showed their quality in their 3-1 win over Bristol City on Monday and will need to do so again if they are to take anything from their game against Hull at the KC Stadium.
Hull’s better results have been away from home and Norwich, too, are excellent travellers, something underlined by their recent 3-1 win at Leicester.
The Canaries are looking good for back-to-back promotions – the first by any club at this level in a decade – and could be worthy of a small interest at 7-4.
Huddersfield’s unbeaten run goes on, with Peter Clarke’s last-minute winner at Brentford in midweek keeping them one step ahead of in-form Peterborough and Southampton.
Today’s visitors Swindon have the lowest away points tally in League One and should not provide any significant resistance to Lee Clark’s side.
Successive home defeats have highlighted just how much work Sheffield Wednesday manager Gary Megson has to do and it does not get any harder for the Owls than a trip to Southampton.
The Saints have won five of their last six at St Mary’s and we are likely to see plenty of Huddersfield/Southampton doubles.
Both Bradford and Northampton look destined to finish in lower mid-table and their meeting at Valley Parade is fairly uninspiring.
City have won nine and lost seven at home, drawing only once, but they have won their last two matches so they are at least showing some form under caretaker chief Peter Jackson. If you are going to back them, though, keep the stakes low.
weekend’s best bets
Sheffield United v Leeds – Both teams to score.
Reading to win at Barnsley.
QPR to win at Doncaster.
Huddersfield to beat Swindon.
Southampton to beat Sheffield Wednesday.
Bradford City to beat Northampton.