With the Champions League/Europa League taking centre stage in midweek, and the value looking to be very slim wherever you look – I thought it better to delve into the Championship today. On the weekend, in the Premier League I was close to a 30/1 win that was probably prevented from by Juan Mata’s red card.
With Hull playing Arsenal, only 11 games taking place – but looking around it is a much better place to be for betting as there are a few mis-matches, title chasing sides playing weak opposition and then some scrappy looking games that might throw up some goals. Here is my preview of each, with a top pick and then at the end my suggested four-fold acca:
Blackburn vs Birmingham
I watched Burnley vs Blackburn in a pub the other day, and must say that Blackburn should and would have taken at least a point had it not been for Tom Heaton. At times, they were all over them – and were unlucky. At home this time, against a Birmingham side struggling for goals – and drawing with the likes of Notts Forest, Bristol City and Rotherham, I think they might well win. However, over the course of the season Birmingham have been consistently one of the best teams away from home and sit just outside the playoffs…the Burnley performance could have been a spike, as it was a very important Derby. They might well have won 3 of their last four home games, but defending has been poor and for this reason, BTTS @ 10/11 is my pick.
Bolton vs Ipswich
Bolton are sinking quickly, and with problems both on and off the field, Ipswich should capitalise. With them being just a point off the playoff places, and Cardiff/Sheff Weds having tougher games, they will see it as a big chance to take a step towards making the playoffs again. Despite a 4 game winning run away from home just a few games ago, and Bolton improving – I still think Ipswich Win @ 7/5 is the best bet
Brighton vs Sheffield Wednesday
Brighton have picked up their home form of late, and won 4 on the spin, scoring plenty of goals – after a run of 3 straight defeats. They are 9 points clear of Sheffield, while the Northern side have Cardiff, Birmingham and Ipswich right on their tail – either level on points or one behind. Wednesday have won twice on the road in their last 10, and with 5 losses in that period, I fancy another to add to it. Brighton Win @ 1/1
Cardiff vs Leeds
Cardiff, at home in the league – have not lost since a 2-0 result against Hull in mid-September! 13 games since, plenty of wins and 8 times they scored 2 or more. They face a Leeds side who have lost 4 and drawn 2 of their last 6 away games, only beating Bolton in the Cup in-between. Their last league win was mid-December, and in their last 15 away games they have won precious few. Cardiff have a good home record against them and I expect that to continue. Cardiff Over 1.5 Team Goals @ 1/1
Charlton vs MK Dons
Both of these are fighting for survival. Charlton sit around 6-7 points from safety, while MK Dons sit just outside the relegation zone. Both have the capability to score plenty, but equally concede the same. Charlton lost 4-3 to Reading in their last home game, while MK Dons lost 3-2 to Blackburn. Both have won just one of their last 10 home/away games respectively, so this will be seen as a big opportunity for both – to gain ground for Charlton, and to pull away from trouble for MK Dons! A goal-feast in my eyes, so BTTS + Over 2.5 Goals @ 6/5 my top tip!
Fulham vs Burnley
As mentioned, I watched Burnley on Saturday and was impressed with their ability to win ugly in what was a bit of a dirty Derby. In the league, their last away defeat was Boxing Day – since then a few draws and mainly wins. Andre Gray is a danger, while Joey Barton has marshalled the side in their quest for a Premier League return. Thanks to a mix of all of this, they sit top as we speak. Fulham, baring wins against poor teams like Charlton and Rotherham, have lost 5 of their last 10 games at home. They have conceded 58 this season, the 2nd worst in the league behind Charlton, however have scored 55. Ross Mac will be a threat, but I can’t see him being afforded too many good chances. Burnley will not gift them goals like those do, and for that reason I’m happy to back Burnley Win @ 7/5.
Huddersfield vs Reading
This is a game that usually comprises of a lot of goals! The last 4 have ended 5-2, 2-2, 2-2 and 3-0, and whilst Huddersfield’s last 5 league games have been rather boring goal-wise, playing a Reading team away from home where they concede a bucket-load, even against the likes of Charlton – might see Huddersfield come out of their shell a little. Both have decent records for Over 2.5 Goals – at home for Huddersfield around 45%, and away for Reading around 50%. With the history between the two, BTTS + Over 2.5 Goals @ 8/5 is my top tip.
Nottingham Forest vs Preston NE
This looks destined to be a boring game. Under 2.5 Goals is 8/15, and provides absolutely no value at all. Forest have lost 4 on the spin, and 5 in their last 6, while Preston seem to be picking up points very easily, with 5 wins and 3 draws in their last 10 games. Away from home, they are a good team – don’t score many, but concede very few too. Most games are settled by one goal. I can see Forest struggling to break down this brick-wall of a back four, and with home pressures, they might crack and Preston might well take all three points. Preston Draw No Bet @ 6/5 my tip for this game.
QPR vs Derby
This seems to be a battle of who doesn’t want to win. QPR have been hit and miss all season long, while Derby were doing well under Paul Clement until the owners decided he wasn’t ‘Hollywood’ enough for them, because clearly their push for promotion must be made into a film at some point…seriously ridiculous! Anyway…to the game. QPR have scored in 7 of their last 8 home games, while Derby have scored in 8 of their last 10 away games, while having a BTTS record of 100% in their last 5 games on the road. I think both will score, mainly thanks to Wassall’s more expansive style of play. Derby under Clement were good at the back, but not so much anymore. Top tip is BTTS @ 10/11
Rotherham vs Middlesbrough
Middlesbrough are surprisingly good odds for this game, but away from home they are not always at their best. Rotherham have won 5 of their last 10 at home, but again equally are poor in defence. Boro have won the last two meets 1-0 and 2-0, but sometimes struggle to break down sides. With a game in hand over Burnley, winning this will do their title winning push the world of good. Rotherham are weak at the back and concede plenty, and with Jordan Rhodes onboard I feel the North-eastern side will take their chances and win to nil by a couple of goals. Middlesbrough -1 Goal Asian Handicap @ 8/5 my pick of all the markets.
Wolves vs Bristol City
This is probably the toughest one to pick a bet from, as Wolves are on a losing run, and Bristol City have won their last 3 away games but lost a lot of them before that. Bristol score at a rate of less than a goal per game, while Wolves have had 6 BTTS + Over 2.5 Goals in their last 7 at home. Wolves beat Derby in their last home game, and have won 3 of their last 6. However, they are short of a number of star performers with Ebanks-Landell out for the season, Nouha Dicko missing as well as Jordan Graham. Bristol City aren’t without their own problems, but are probably in a stronger position squad and form wise. Bristol City Win @ 2/1
My top four bets from these are as follows:
- Brighton Win @ 1/1
- Charlton/MK Dons BTTS + Over 2.5 Goals @ 6/5
- Burnley Win @ 7/5
- Middlesbrough -1 Goal Asian Handicap @ 8/5
Together, this pays 27/1. Cardiff Over 1.5 Team Goals @ 1/1 and Ipswich Win @ 7/5 would be my next two for a 130/1 6 fold.
Best of luck