Bristol City v QPR
Bristol City and goals are one of the most reliable pairings in The Championship. QPR have been known to be willing participants in open matches as well with their cavalier #10s able to work in space but also leave some spaces behind.
There was a little bit of concern with an injury to Andreas Weimann on international duty but even if the Austrian doesn’t return from the start, Nigel Pearson has been quoted as saying that Antoine Semenyo is probably ready to start games. This would, of course, require something of a rejig in the front three but Semenyo is a dynamic option to have in The Robins’ starting lineup and would force Mick Beale to consider how high a line he could use with his R’s defence.
It has been said multiple times in this column over the last few months that Bristol City’s balance is often difficult to get right. Though they are clearly a better side when they commit to attack there are definite gaps in the defence that QPR have the players to exploit. With the pressing, industry and consistency of Sam Field and Stefan Johansen in central midfield, Rangers can allow Ilias Chair and Chris Willock lots of rope to provide and score goals. There are few clubs that can boast a supporting partnership like that in the league, however, with 8 goals and 5 assists between them they could do with some help from other sources too.
City have been fortunate to be able to name a pretty consistent XI so far this season. Seven players have started all of their matches, which, of course, means that their designed patterns of play are well oiled at this stage. This includes chance creation where Nakhi Wells and Tommy Conway are both potentially on course for their best output of their careers.
Goals could come on either side here and there is also a chance that Bristol City are able to run away with it as well, as they were on good form prior to the international break.
Blackpool v Norwich
There’s a strong and straightforward case for this bet. Blackpool sit 24th in The Championship over the most recent four games for expected points, Norwich, on the other hand, sit 2nd over the same timeframe.
Most of Blackpool’s struggles have come in front of goal. The four matches in the sample weren’t exactly against the brightest lights in the league (Blackburn, Huddersfield, Rotherham, Millwall) but in none of those matches have The Seasiders generated chances worth a goal, i.e. less than 1xG per match. Anything along similar lines in this match against one of the best attacks in The Championship and it is unlikely that they will get anything out of this match.
Even playing at home is not much comfort for Blackpool at the moment. They have lost the xG battle in three of four matches at Bloomfield Road this season so far and to add insult to injury Norwich have the exact opposite record in their away matches, winning three of four in the xG battle.
Norwich have the best open play xG statistics in the division over the season so far, generating 1.24xG per match in open play whilst conceding only 0.55xG per match at the other end. Whilst results started poorly The Canaries are back in the position that many expected them to be in pre-season and have successfully restored Teemu Pukki to the point of the attack whilst retaining Josh Sargent’s improvement in a wider role.
Marcelino Nunez and Gabriel Sara have integrated themselves well into Norwich’s team and have added extra technical excellence and excitement to a team who did look a little threadbare in those areas this season compared to other Norwich promotion winning sides. Good news for Norwich on the injury front as well with Liam Gibbs back in training much earlier than anticipated and both Grant Hanley and Andrew Omobamidele potentially in contention for this match too despite missing international duty.
The price for a Norwich win is closer to evens than I would’ve expected given the respective performance-based form of the pair. I recommend this as a good bet.
Rotherham v Wigan
What a change there has been for The Millers from one game day to the next. For the first time in over 6 years Rotherham are preparing for a match without being led by Paul Warne. Warne has moved on to Derby leaving a huge amount of uncertainty behind, especially as he has taken some other key members of staff with him. Rotherham had looked to Mark Bonner at Cambridge as a replacement but Bonner looks to be staying with United.
The big unknown is how this will affect the team. Rotherham have made their best start in The Championship ever in terms of results and had looked a good bet to survive with a bit in hand. Now, obviously, the players that have got them into this position are still there and are still capable of achieving the objective, but this must’ve shaken them in some way.
Also, it is fair to say that their goal threat has diminished somewhat recently. In their last four games The Millers have averaged only 0.65xG per match, and of that only 0.28 was from open play. Set pieces have obviously been an important part of the Rotherham threat for some time now so cannot be underestimated when assessing the goals market, but they will need to do some heavy lifting here. The bad news from a Rotherham perspective is that the mastermind behind their fantastic set pieces, Matt Hamshaw, is one of the staff that has moved on.
Wigan aren’t exactly free flowing with their attacking play either. Averaging a slightly more healthy 0.86xG per match over the last four they are still short of the magic ‘goal a game’ barrier. If we look at away games in particular The Latics seem to want to play a low margin, tight game at both ends with an xG total of only 1.76 per match in their four away games so far.
There is a lot of evidence here pointing towards a tight, low scoring game so I am happy to take the quotes on offer for under 2.5 goals.
Reading v Huddersfield
There have been some green shoots of recovery evident at Huddersfield recently. Danny Schofield was removed from his post and yesterday Huddersfield announced Mark Fotheringham as their new head coach.
This was an appointment in the mould of most Huddersfield appointments in the last few years, slightly under-the-radar and giving someone who has been an assistant or key staff member elsewhere the chance at being the #1 man. This worked brilliantly for David Wagner and Carlos Corberan, but not so well with Jan Siewert and Danny Schofield. Certainly the players, who were already showing signs of turning the corner, will be wanting to impress the new man and fight for their places in the starting lineup.
In the last four matches, albeit three of them were at home, Huddersfield have matched or bettered their opponents’ chance creation. Results didn’t quite follow until the last game before the international break but that 1-0 win over Cardiff will have given everyone a boost to live off over the last two weeks.
Taking on Reading has been somewhat of a tricky thing to do this year. The relegation favourites are flying high under Paul Ince and so far seem to have something about them that is intangible in the data and performances. Usually in these situations the results do turn and the team is dragged back down to the level that they are performing at.
With this in mind Reading have only won the xG battle in their matches in 3 out of 10 Championship games so far this season, 2 out of 5 at home. They also sit 16th in expected points over the last four games compared to Huddersfield’s 9th.
The price on Reading to win here is short enough to be able to take the double chance on Huddersfield at a decent price. Having the draw on our side is massive here as it looks to be a big runner in this fixture.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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