Clarets can leave Brum blue
Craig Chisnall thinks Burnley deserve more respect as he previews the weekend's Championship and League One action.
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Having risen to the cusp of the play-offs on the quiet Burnley deserve more plaudits than they are getting and I'm going to put my faith in them this weekend.
The Clarets have won four of their last five matches, all of those successes built on a rock solid defence that has leaked just one goal in that time, and they head into the clash with Birmingham just four points off a play-off place.
New boss Sean Dyche wasn't the most popular choice on the terraces as the man to replace Eddie Howe earlier in the season but he has wasted little time in winning over the doubters.
Under Howe the East Lancashire outfit scored plenty of goals, mostly through leading scorer Charlie Austin, but they shipped too many as well.
That meant they were frustratingly inconsistent but having put the shutters up at the back they now have a solid base to build on.
Another win at Turf Moor over the struggling Blues will crank up the pressure on the top six and look worth an investment this weekend.
Watford came good for us at a short price last weekend when they swept aside plummeting Huddersfield and I'm going to back them again at Nottingham Forest.
The Hornets swept past Town 4-0 and were rewarded with a four-day trip to Spain as they swapped the snow for training in the sun in a bid to keep up their fine form.
Like Burnley, Gianfranco Zola's easy-on-the-eye side have won four of their last five and are now in the mix for not just the play-offs but the top two.
They are scoring goals for fun, particularly on the road as they have plundered 29 goals in their 13 games with seven wins also in that period.
Forest did take a step in the right direction with a deserved point at East Midlands rivals Derby last time out but I believe Watford are just too big to ignore.
In League One Shrewsbury have climbed away from the drop zone in recent months and will be in confident mood to increase the gap on the bottom four when Bury arrive.
The Shrews have lost just two in their last ten to climb to 18th with six of those matches also ending in draws.
But they have been particularly strong at home in recent seasons and five of their six wins this term have come on their own patch.
The Shakers have won just once in ten outings and the early optimism of Kevin Blackwell's reign seems to have disappeared. The home win looks value.
Coventry have bounced back from successive defeats to Shrewsbury and Carlisle earlier this month with wins over Tranmere and Oldham in the last week and I fancy them to make it three on the spin at Preston.
The Sky Blues have been transformed by Mark Robins in recent months - gone is the gloom of Andy Thorn's reign and City are now right in the mix for the play-offs.
They have risen to eighth with six wins in nine while North End have won just once in that period to crank up the pressure on Graham Westley.
The Deepdale regulars have not seen a home win since back in September so they will hardly welcome one of the division's form teams - at 9/5 with Boylesports I'd back the Sky Blues.
Elsewhere Notts County have drawn their last five matches in league and cup away from Meadow Lane and I believe a sixth will follow at Leyton Orient.
The Magpies' promotion push has faltered of late with so many stalemates and they've drawn ten of their 26 league matches.
A 1-0 win over Oldham got them back to winning ways but with six draws in their last ten the 12/5 is worth considering.