Bielsa's Leeds taking three points regardless
Leeds 1.68/13 v Hull 6.611/2; The Draw 4.216/5
I feel really bad about putting a Leeds game into this piece. As a Leeds fan I do my utmost to avoid their matches so I don't tempt fate, but I wouldn't be doing my job without mentioning the table toppers.
Leeds have now won seven consecutive league games for the first time since September 2009 and they've done it in dramatic style over the Christmas period. The 3-2 win over Blackburn on Boxing Day saw a match petering out into a 1-1 draw suddenly take several twists as Charlie Mulgrew put this visitors ahead before Kemar Roofe added time brace kept the points in West Yorkshire.
In the game prior to that Aston Villa appeared to be coasting at 2-0 at half-time. Whatever Marcelo Bielsa said to his team at the break saw a different side return to the Villa pitch, culminating in Roofe scoring an added time winner.
Leeds are not in top gear. That's either frightening for the chasing pack or a concern that they may use up their get out of jail free cards.
Hull are another form team in the Championship. Seemingly doomed to a season long fight against relegation, Nigel Adkins has done a brilliant job to steady the ship and he now sees his team unbeaten in six, including three successive wins. Jarrod Bowen is Hull's most successful marksman in recent times and he grabbed a brace in the 3-2 win over Swansea a couple of games ago. He's always undervalued in the markets because he comes from deep, but is worth a look at 7/2.
This is a tough test for Leeds and I'm tempted to avoid the hype and look at goals in this game. Leeds have scored six in two games and the Tigers have scored at least two goals in their last six games. Both Teams To Score at 20/23 looks a great play, but over 3.5 match goals at 2/1 is too juicy to ignore!
Prepare yourself for another Boro borefest
Boro 1.4840/85 v Ipswich 9.89/1; The Draw 4.3100/30
The general rule of thumb in the Championship is to oppose Ipswich and assume they are not going to score. The Tractor Boys have been restricted to a clean sheet in five of their last six away matches and a trip to the Riverside isn't the best remedy to break the trend.
Add into that, there have been under 2.5 goals in 10 of Middlesbrough's last 11 home league games and they have kept a clean sheet in five of their last six home matches against Ipswich in all competitions. But don't take all of these statistics as the green light to lump on fifth placed Boro to run riot on Saturday.
Tony Pulis's team are on a poor run losing four of their last six matches in all competitions and scoring only three goals in that period. The Riverside had been a fortress, but just one goal and one point in three games has led to a drop down the table. Pulis finds himself under pressure after jeers from the home faithful greeted the final whistle after a 1-0 Boxing Day defeat to Sheffield Wednesday. With the table so tight Boro could descend quickly if they cannot turn things around.
Paul Lambert has a mountain to climb as Ipswich boss and would snap your hand off for Pulis's problems. The 1-0 home win against Wigan a couple of games ago promised a change of fortune, but a 1-1 draw with Sheffield United and a 3-0 drubbing from QPR on Boxing Day sees them four points adrift at the wrong end of the table.
Boro should be too strong for their visitors although it's hard to see them suddenly finding their shooting boots. Even an early goal could lead to protecting the points rather than efforts to add more, so on that basis playing under 2.5 goals at 8/11 looks a really sensible way in and under 1.5 goals at 21/10 is worth a nibble.
QPR on a roll after poor start
QPR 1.674/6 v Reading 6.05/1; The Draw 4.1
Steve McLaren has done an amazing job at Queens Park Rangers and should collect another three points against Reading this weekend. Up to eighth in the table after being rock bottom for the first month of the season, QPR have won their last three matches on the bounce and take on a Reading side that are without a win in six matches. A promotion campaign is now QPR's main concern and a win against Reading is likely to see them move into a play-off spot.
Jose Gomes has taken over as Reading boss and will have been buoyed by his side's fight in the 1-0 away defeat at Millwall last time out. They kept on battling despite being reduced to nine men, but a visit to Loftus Road is a stern test. Reading sit in 23rd place and need points urgently to avoid the current gap of three points between themselves and Rotherham in 21st growing.
QPR have scored 10 goals across their last four home matches with Pawel Wszolek (15/8 anytime) and Nahki Wells (evens) grabbing three apiece. Rangers will fancy their chances of adding to their tally against Reading and either attacker give you every chance of increasing the value on the home side, but I'm opting for a QPR win and Wszolek to notch at the bigger price.
*You can follow James on Twitter - @football_badger