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EFL Midweek Preview: Sheffield United seek derby glory

Burnley and Blackburn are out of action so Sheffield United have the chance to take pole position in the Championship in Tuesday’s South Yorkshire derby with Rotherham.

Blades showcasing cutting edge

What Sheffield United v Rotherham 
Where Bramall Lane, Sheffield 
When 19:45 Tuesday 8th November 2022 
How to watch Sky Sports Red Button 
Odds Sheffield United 4/11, Draw 17/4, Rotherham 7/1 

Inflicting only a second league defeat of the season on Burnley last Saturday was no mean feat and Sheffield United will enter the final pre-World Cup weekend at the top of the table if they can navigate their way past Rotherham on Tuesday night.

Paul Heckingbottom’s side have won three successive matches and are making amends for a poor October that saw them wait until their seventh match of the month for a victory.

And up against Rotherham, whose return to the Championship is starting to show concerning signs of the struggles that relegated them in their last three second-tier campaigns, the Blades come into the clash as firm favourites.

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The travelling side were promoted automatically from League One last term under long-time boss Paul Warne, but the much-loved manager’s departure for Derby County earlier this season has coincided with a downturn in results.

Matt Taylor, Warne’s successor, has managed just two wins in his nine games since taking over in early October and the Millers have picked up just a sole point from their last five matches.

They battled valiantly against promotion contenders Burnley and Norwich on their last two outings, going down 3-2 and 2-1 respectively, and have found the net in six of their last seven encounters - a home win with both teams to score is available at 9/4.

Solid backline boosting Birmingham

What Birmingham v Swansea 
Where St Andrews Stadium, Birmingham 
When 19:45 Tuesday 8th November 2022 
How to watch Sky Sports Red Button 
Odds Birmingham 3/2, Draw 23/10, Swansea 187/100

A hard-fought 2-1 win over Stoke at the weekend extended Birmingham City’s purple patch towards the winter break; boss John Eustace has now overseen four wins and two draws in the last seven games.

The key strength underpinning this solidity is clear to see: conceding only 16 goals all season in the league, Birmingham have the joint-tightest defence in the Championship, tied with Preston - though City have scored four more at the other end than the Lilywhites.

Centre-back Harlee Dean has exhibited sterling form since returning to the side after injury early last month. The 31-year-old has been picked for seven consecutive starts and found his way onto the scoresheet against the Potters, emphasising his influence in Eustace’s confident side.

For the Swans, the prospect of falling to back-to-back away defeats for the first time since February looms large in the second city.

Russell Martin’s men’s own stellar form has started to evaporate in recent weeks; they won six out of a run of seven fixtures through September into October, but since claiming bragging rights in the South Wales derby with Cardiff on October 23rd, they are winless in three and are at 3/1 to lose to nil against one of the Championship’s top performers.

Orient Express rumbles on at League Two summit

What AFC Wimbledon v Leyton Orient 
Where Cherry Red Records Stadium, London 
When 19:45 Tuesday 8th November 2022 
How to watch N/A 
Odds AFC Wimbledon 12/5, Draw 12/5, Leyton Orient 23/20

Buoyed by three wins on the bounce, Leyton Orient’s stranglehold on League Two shows no signs of loosening after three wins on the trot.

Already three points clear of Stevenage at the top of the table and a further five ahead of the play-offs, the O’s have lost just one league game all season and, what’s more, hold a game in hand over the rest of the top five.

That spare game comes on Tuesday night at last season’s relegated third-tier outfit AFC Wimbledon, whose first 14 games of the new campaign brought up only three wins.

Johnnie Jackson’s men have rallied in recent weeks, earning seven points from three games to pull themselves into 15th position, but with each of their last four opponents lying below them in the standings, the visit of the leaders promises a challenge of a different calibre.

The Dons will surely aim to take inspiration from Crewe, after a late goal from Bassala Sambou edged the Railwaymen past Orient in FA Cup action this Saturday. But Tuesday’s travelling side have conceded just nine times in League Two and their hosts face a battle to break them down - a win for the O’s for the 13th time this season is priced at 23/20.

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