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Championship: Playoff picture proving tough to predict

The Championship is always a difficult league to predict and it's the same again this season with the race for a playoff spot looking extremely interesting.

Fulham have opened up a five-point lead over second-placed Blackburn at the top after winning four in a row and they also have a game in hand.

Just three points separate Blackburn and Bournemouth, who sit third, and then it's just six points between the Cherries and Nottingham Forest in seventh.

Huddersfield head into this weekend's round of fixtures in sixth - the final playoff berth - but they have several clubs breathing down their neck.

Sheffield United in 12th will still feel they could mount a playoff push as they hold two games in hand over the Terriers and are only eight points adrift.

Seasiders head to the capital

There are nine games scheduled to take place at 15:00 on Saturday and one of those sees league leaders Fulham host Blackpool.

The Cottagers have been free-scoring this season, netting a league-high 73 in 27 outings with 23 of those coming over their last four outings.

They've only lost once since 2nd October and have tasted defeat on just four occasions all season as they look to secure an immediate return to the Premier League.

But one of those losses did come when they travelled north to face Blackpool on 11th September as Josh Bowler's goal earned the Seasiders a 1-0 win at Bloomfield Road.

That was just one of four games in which Fulham have failed to register in the Championship this campaign.

Blackpool have won both of their league outings since the turn of the year 1-0, beating Hull and Millwall, however, earning another shutout will likely prove tough at Craven Cottage.

Fulham are 3/10 to beat 10/1 Blackpool and the draw can be backed at 17/4.

Road assignments for automatic contenders

Blackburn and Bournemouth both head out on the road on Saturday to face Luton and Barnsley respectively.

Rovers, who are 11/4 to be promoted, forced themselves into the conversation for automatic promotion after embarking on a 10 game unbeaten run, which included six successive wins, between November and January.

Tony Mowbray's side fell to defeat at Hull on 19th January but bounced back on Monday when seeing off Middlesbrough 1-0.

Blackburn are 21/10 to make it back-to-back wins when they travel to 7/5 Luton and the draw is 11/5.

Luton have lost just once in their last five league outings and they can't be written off as they look to close the gap to the top six.

Bournemouth, meanwhile, are 7/10 to pick up a much-needed win when they travel to 9/2 Barnsley and the draw is currently 13/5.

Barnsley are rock-bottom and look destined to return to League One after winning just two games all season.

That form should offer hope to the Cherries as they look to recover following successive defeats against Luton and Hull.

Related Championship News

Championship: Talking Points

Championship: Rovers to miss Brereton Diaz against Boro

Championship: Fulham on course for record-breaking season

Home form key for Boro

Middlesbrough's promotion hopes hang largely on their performances at the Riverside this season and they'll hope to utilise home advantage when Coventry visit at 15:00 on Saturday.

Boro, priced at 21/20 to win, saw a seven-game unbeaten streak, which included four successive wins, come to an end at Blackburn last time out.

They have won each of their last four at home, keeping three clean sheets in the process, and can be backed at 12/5 to win to nil on Saturday.

Coventry are 14/5 to pick up all three points but they've failed come out on top at the Riverside in their 11 attempts.

Rooney working his magic with Rams

Wayne Rooney has been working under extremely difficult circumstances at Derby all season but he has done an incredible job.

Despite being deducted 21 points, Derby are currently on +14 and sit one place off the foot of the table ahead of Sunday's 13:30 clash at Pride Park.

They saw a five-game unbeaten run ended last time out when losing 2-1 to arch-rivals Nottingham Forest but will be optimistic of bouncing back at home.

Derby have the ninth-best home record in the division and have won each of their last three when hosting.

Birmingham's away record leads to the feeling that they may struggle on Sunday, having won just one of their last 12 on the road.

Derby can be backed at 13/10 to come out on top against 12/5 Birmingham with the draw priced at 21/10.

Cooper's men building momentum

Nottingham Forest are 13/8 to overcome 9/5 Cardiff in Sunday's 16:00 clash, with the draw available at 11/5.

Forest, who travel to the Cardiff City Stadium, have won three in a row to move within a point of the playoffs and they boast the fourth-best away record in the Championship.

There's little to be positive about when it comes to Cardiff, especially when playing at home, and they've got the worst record of any side in the league on their own patch.

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