Burnley v Swansea City
4th place Burnley have only been beaten once in the Championship this season. That lone defeat to Watford is the only match the Clarets have failed to score in, averaging 1.5 goals scored and 0.9 goals conceded across their 13 league fixtures. Southampton loanee Nathan Tella has caught the eye in wide areas with five league goals already and strikes in both of Burnley’s most recent away games.
Burnley will do very well to keep 6th place Swansea City quiet at Turf Moor. The Swans enter the weekend on a run of four consecutive victories, scoring at least two in each of those matches. A 3-4-2-1 under Russell Martin still utilises the impressive Dutch goalscorer Joël Piroe in advanced areas, with Ryan Manning, Michael Obafemi, Olivier Ntcham and Harry Darling also among the goalscorers in Swansea’s winning run. The South Wales outfit average 1.3 goals scored a game, but also concede 1.2 goals on average, with their expansive set-up always requiring comfortable possession in order to avoid deadly counter attacks from the opposition.
Just one of the games at Turf Moor this season has seen a team win to nil, and up against a fellow play-off side in Swansea City, Burnley will have their work cut out to secure a clean sheet. The Clarets under Vincent Kompany certainly possess the quality to hurt Russell Martin’s side, but are up against opponents on a strong run of form. 1-1 has been common for Burnley so far this season, it would surprise few if it happened again here…
Middlesbrough v Blackburn Rovers
At the time of writing Middlesbrough have yet to appoint a permanent successor to Chris Wilder at The Riverside Stadium, which means that Leo Percovich will prepare the side for a third game. That does fold into the thinking for this wager as does Blackburn Rovers’ terrible away form.
That lack of performance level away from Ewood Park surfaced again live on TV on Tuesday with an insipid display at Wigan. Though the hosts were little better, Rovers failed to produce a shot on target on the night, which, if Jon Dahl Tomasson’s men are supposed play-off contenders, is simply unacceptable. That made it only one win in seven away from home and the performance data backs up that ratio in that Rovers have won only one xG battle in away matches, Blackpool in August.
There is just too little threat posed by Blackburn at the moment. Take away the last-minute penalty at Cardiff and you have to go back to that Blackpool match to find a big chance created away from home, and even before that they were scarce too. With the defenders that Middlesbrough have to choose from one would think that they would be capable of handling that shy attack.
Indeed, Percovich has demonstrated a slightly more defensive outlook in his brief spell in charge so far. Boro have scored only once in his two games, but also hadn’t scored in the two previous to that either. Not since the home game against Sunderland in early September have Boro created more than 1xG in a match.
Middlesbrough will think that this is a great chance to win a game by keeping a clean sheet. I can see this being a tight encounter with Middlesbrough favourites to win. There are a few options to bet from this position but I am recommending to keep it simple with an Under 2.5 goals bet which covers a potential low-scoring draw as well.
Sunderland v Wigan
Sunderland are struggling desperately without their front-line forwards. In truth, their performances have been perfectly decent without Ellis Simms and Ross Stewart, but there has been a definite lack of cutting-edge and an out ball for the defence to hit to get The Black Cats up the pitch.
However, Wigan could probably have played most of the time since Tuesday night and failed to score without Blackburn gifting Nathan Broadhead his second-half winner. There was little creativity and ingenuity in Wigan’s play and a well-organised defence, such as Sunderland’s (usually), shouldn’t be too concerned about Wigan’s forward players.
In open play, both sides are struggling to create chances. Combining their xG figures over the last four games and they are creating 1.02xG between them in a single match. Obviously, both teams can be a threat from set pieces but the data would suggest that this could be a stodgy affair with the ball in play.
Jack Clarke will probably be the chief goal threat for The Black Cats in this one with only Patrick Roberts for company as available players who have scored more than once in the league. The problem this creates for Tony Mowbray is that if Leam Richardson and his team can come up with a tactical plan to shut down Clarke that dilutes Sunderland’s likelihood of scoring even further.
I think that there is a better chance than the bookmakers suggest that at least one of these teams doesn’t manage to register a goal here so the recommendation is to back Both Teams To Score – No. Please remember the ‘No’ bit!
Watford v Norwich
By contrast to the previous selection, this evening kickoff sees two sides with a plethora of goalscoring options meet. Slaven Bilic’s short reign has seen Watford be a bit more open with a 4-2-3-1 system which has seen goals flow at both ends.
One problem that Bilic does have ahead of the game is that Joao Pedro is still unavailable through injury and Imran Louza could face a six-match suspension following a charge of spitting against Swansea. If that suspension starts in this match then Watford would really miss the midfielder as his return from injury was a big positive of their recent displays. However, when you are able to call on the talents of Ismaila Sarr and the investments of Keinan Davis, Vakoun Bayo, Rey Manaj, and Yaser Asprilla, there are still ways to goal in open play for Bilic.
At the other end, Francisco Sierralta looks like he could miss out, which would be a blow for The Hornets. Some of the defending from the likes of Christian Kabasele in the defeat to Blackpool was abject and unless there is a big change from those individuals then it is easy to see Norwich being able to create some good chances against this back line.
Not that Norwich are watertight themselves. Dean Smith is under a little bit of pressure from the Carrow Road faithful as it seems he can’t quite find the right balance in the team so far this season. This comes in part from some positive selection problems. Josh Sargent and Teemu Pukki are competing upfront, but both are more effective centrally. Liam Gibbs has come in and been excellent in central midfield, but Marcelino Nunez and Gabriel Sara both are demanding a place in the team. The injuries at left back have been a huge issue and it has been a difficult one for Smith to cover.
Individual defensive mistakes have cost Norwich at times in this season too. Tim Krul wasn’t at his best against Preston and whilst Grant Hanley and Andrew Omobamidele are a good combination at this level, Hanley has the capacity for a clanger and Omobamidele is still learning his trade.
Over the last four matches, Watford are creating 1.32xG per match whilst also conceding 1.12xG. Norwich are well above that magic 1 mark as well at 1.23xG over the same sample size. This is further evidence that there are goals in this game and I like Both Teams To Score here.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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