Home comforts to benefit the Blades
Paul Heckingbottom has suggested that fitness issues have hampered his team’s progress this season and with Billy Sharp and Oli McBurnie having both sustained injuries prior to the international break, it’s difficult to argue with the former Barnsley boss. Although John Fleck, George Baldock and Ben Davies have all recently returned to the fold, the Blades now appear to be a little light at the top end of the field, however, they have plenty of creativity in behind and the South Yorkshire side should still have enough depth to collect all three points on Tuesday night.
Following a hugely disappointing showing in Staffordshire at the weekend, the hosts will be pleased to return to Bramall Lane, a venue at which they remain unbeaten since the end of October. Only West Brom have kept more home clean sheets (10) than Heckingbottom’s side this season and goal-shy QPR may struggle to find a way past the Blades’ miserly back-line.
Only Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough have found the net at this venue in the last five months and with QPR having failed to find the net in three of their last five away games, they will have to produce something special in order to puncture the Blades’ resistance.
Mark Warburton’s job is reportedly on the line following a disastrous run of form which has seen them drop out of the play-off positions. Injuries have also derailed the club’s progress with playmaker Chris Willock being the key absentee over the last couple of weeks. Lyndon Dykes’ continued absence has also played havoc with Warburton’s team selection and both players remain sidelined for this tie.
The visitors were keeping plenty of clean sheets earlier in the campaign, however, they’ve conceded eight times in their last three outings and are struggling to keep the opposition at arm’s length. Even without a recognised striker, the hosts should have too much quality for the struggling play-off chasers.
Recommended Bet: Back Sheffield United to beat QPR @ 1.728/11
Competitive 90 minutes at Deepdale
Blackpool hold local bragging rights following their comfortable victory at Bloomfield Road earlier in the campaign. However, Preston have switched manager since that defeat and look a far better side following the arrival of Ryan Lowe. Nevertheless, there are signs that PNE are slowly beginning of tail off and their 1-0 defeat to Derby at Pride Park at the weekend was a disappointing outcome.
Too many draws have held the Lilywhites back this season and they’ve seen five of their last seven matches at this venue end all-square. As a result, they’ve also been incredibly tough to beat, with only struggling Reading having left this venue with all three points since mid-November.
The Seasiders will be keen to bounce back from their 4-1 humbling at the hands of Nottingham Forest. It was an uncharacteristically sloppy display from Neil Critchley’s men, who had previously been well-organised and discliplined. Away from home, they’ve been a little more open with 76% of their matches having seen both teams find the back of the net. The return of Keshi Anderson will give them something extra in the final third and they are unlikely to draw a blank here.
This game is always fiercely contested and there doesn’t appear to be much between these two sides. Both sides are capable going forward so BTTS appears to be a sensible option.
Recommended Bet: Back BTTS in Preston vs Blackpool @ 1.9720/21
High-scoring 90 minutes at the Weston Homes
Although they had been showing signs of life prior to this weekend’s 4-0 battering by Middlesbrough, Peterborough must surely now be preparing for life in League One next season. Posh have improved their attacking output under Grant McCann, however, defensive errors continue to hold them back. Although they’ve scored seven times in their last four outings, they’ve been breached nine times during that period and are unlikely to keep free-scoring Luton at arm’s length here.
The Hatters weren’t able to edge past Millwall at the weekend, however, Nathan Jones was pleased with his side’s performance and was delighted to add yet another point to the board. Luton are firmly in the play-off mix and they will be keen to keep their recent momentum going. They’ve scored 2+ in each of their last three outings and having also notched at least a couple of times against Blackpool, Stoke, Hull and Reading, they will surely enjoy coming up against the division’s worst defence.
Recommended Bet: Back Over 1.5 Luton team goals (vs Peterborough) @ 2.1011/10
Points shared at the Den
Although Millwall remain in play-off contention, Gary Rowett’s men will have been disappointed not to have clinched all three points against Luton at the weekend. They are still only four points off the top six, however, both Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough have a game in hand on the Lions. Millwall’s away form has been problematic and they’ve won just three of their last 13 matches outside of Bermondsey. It’s a completely different story in front of their own fans where they’ve suffered just a single defeat since October 16th. Rowett’s men have also managed to keep clean sheets in each of their last four and in six of their last seven.
Swansea will be buoyed by their comprehensive derby day victory at the Cardiff City Stadium this weekend. Russell Martin’s side have put together a three-match unbeaten sequence, something they’ve managed just three times so far this campaign. Although they’ve got very little left to play for, they should remain competitive and the addition of Hannes Wolf has given them some extra impetus going forward. This will be tough for the visitors and they could find that their chances are limited by the watertight Millwall back-line.
Recommended Bet: Back Draw in Millwall vs Swansea @ 3.39/4
BTTS at the Majeski
Reading are scrapping for every point and they managed to find a way back into their ‘relegation six-pointer’ with Barnsley at the weekend. That result keeps the Royals five points clear of danger and with the Tykes not in midweek action, they could take a significant step towards safety with maximum points here. They have defensively improved in recent weeks and have conceded just twice in their last three outings. Having won two of their last three games in Berkshire, they are likely to make it tough for their midtable visitors.
Stoke have very little to play for, however, they are ending the campaign with a flourish and have won back-to-back home matches. Away from home, they are far too open and have struggled to keep the opposition off the scoresheet. The Potters haven’t kept an away clean sheet since January 16th and have recently dropped points against struggling Barnsley and Peterborough. This is a great opportunity for the hosts, however, backing BTTS may be a safer option.
Recommended Bet: Back BTTS in Reading vs Stoke @ 1.9620/21
Cooper’s men to triumph at the City Ground
Although they were helped by Blackpool’s errant passing, Nottingham Forest were very impressive at Bloomfield Road on Saturday lunchtime and with a couple of games in hand, they will be expected to secure their place in the top six this season. They’ve now scored 11 times in their last three outings and have lost just a single home match since mid-October. They’ve also scored 2+ goals in each of their last six games at this venue and with Lewis Grabban having returned from injury at the weekend, they have plenty of options in the final third.
Coventry rescued a draw against Blackburn at the weekend, however, their faint play-off dreams now appear to be over. Nevertheless, Mark Robins must be commended for an excellent job and his side are unlikely to hit the beach anytime soon. Their recent form has been a little erratic, although they have been hampered by defensive injuries. They’ve won just one of their last seven matches and the majority of their away victories have come against bottom half opposition.
Recommended Bet: Back Nottingham Forest to beat Coventry @ 2.1211/10
Boro to take at least a point off the leaders
With FA Cup distractions now a thing of the past, Middlesbrough can concentrate on their quest for a top six spot. Chris Wilder’s men have rediscovered their form and arrive here off the back of three consecutive clean sheets. Having played four away games on the spin, Boro will be pleased to return to the Riverside and they’ll be hoping to continue their formidable form at this venue on Wednesday night. They’ve won eight consecutive matches in front of their own fans and haven’t suffered a defeat here since mid-November.
Fulham eased past rivals QPR at the weekend, however, their recent form has been a complete mixed bag. Although they probably only need one or two more points to secure a return to the top flight, they haven’t looked as effective going forward in recent weeks and may find it tough to break down Boro’s stubborn resistance. This is the Cottagers’ fifth consecutive away game and that may start to take its toll on the players.
Recommended Bet: Back Middlesbrough Draw No Bet (vs Fulham) @ 2.255/4
Points shared at the Hawthorns
West Brom put in another disappointing display at the weekend as they were defeated 1-0 at St. Andrews. That loss ended their interest in mounting a late play-off push and the Baggies can begin planning for a second consecutive season in the second tier. Despite their inconsistences, Steve Bruce’s side remain tough to beat on their own patch and with ten home clean sheets to their name, they aren’t particularly easy to break down at the Hawthorns. They’ve faced nine of the top ten at home and have avoided defeat in each of those encounters. They’ll be hoping to complete the set on Wednesday night.
Scott Parker has taken on a fairly relaxed demeanour over the last couple of weeks and has been instructing his players to simply go out and enjoy themselves. The Cherries have essentially secured second spot and are unlikely to surrender their six point advantage over Huddersfield. Bournemouth have scored six times in their last two matches and have plenty of firepower going forward. The visitors could easily take all three points back to the Vitality, however, WBA’s penchant for avoiding defeat against top-half opposition makes the draw a far more tempting prospect.
Recommended Bet: Back Draw in West Brom vs Bournemouth @ 3.3512/5