Birmingham City v Norwich City
Norwich look to be a very backable price away at Birmingham. The Canaries’ results have really picked up recently and this backs up the early data that suggested that the poor results in the opening couple of games were probably slightly unfortunate.
Josh Sargent has assumed that central forward role recently and it would be a surprise if Teemu Pukki was to usurp the American’s position as the main #9. Sargent’s extra pace, mobility and stamina has provided both a more stable platform to build from but also an added threat to the opposition defenders when in possession of the ball. Whilst Pukki is still undoubtedly the better finisher, Sargent’s recent goals have been very well taken.
In behind this, the team is functioning well. There is nothing to suggest that they will run away with the league but at the same time they look quite solid and deep. Nunez has settled in well and adds an extra goal threat from midfield. Grant Hanley was better on Saturday and his partnership with Andrew Omobamidele is getting more practiced. Sam Byram’s return from injury is quite timely as well with Liam Gibbs having to limp off on Saturday.
Birmingham are in a difficult moment, as foreign coaches might say. John Eustace seemed to get an initial bounce and good reaction but I fear that the lack of quality and depth of players available to him might be coming back to bite him. From a performance perspective Blues are in the bottom 3 in both xG created and xG against, that says it all really for them.
There is very little creativity in the team and even if there was a moment of magic it would be fair to say that their forward players probably aren’t the best equipped in the division to finish it off.
I would feel very confident to say that Norwich will be the team in control of the match and that they will win the xG battle, they have in all 6 of their matches so far. That is enough to recommend a win bet kn The Canaries here.
Burnley v Millwall
Burnley cashed in their previous unrewarded good performances all at once on Saturday by taking a resounding victory at Wigan, despite actually losing the xG battle in that game.
The way that I would analyse Burnley is to say that they have a very high floor. The way that they play means that they deny opposition chances by building attacks keeping key men in the central areas of the pitch, reducing the chances of effective counter attacking. The forward play is a work in progress but having Jay Rodriguez as their central forward gives them a good platform and also he is technically better with a greater eye for goal than Ashley Barnes. The rotating cast around Rodriguez potentially need to gel a bit more but Josh Brownhill is proving to be a massive threat breaking into the box. He may well be value for a goal again in this match.
Millwall have been uncharacteristically loose at the beginning of this season. They sit 6th bottom for xG conceded so they are definitely allowing the opposition a few more chances than usual under Gary Rowett.
It is a slight concern that this will be recognise d and concentrated on for this match but if that is the case then they may have to sacrifice some balance in the attacking third which would suit Burnley fine.
Again, this may come down to Burnley capitalising on more possession and more shots but I think that they have enough variety of attacking potential to find a way through here.
Cardiff v Luton
Cardiff City continue to be water tight at home. After “entertaining” Preston at home at the weekend they still haven’t conceded a goal there and limited Preston to 0.23xG in the 90 minutes. Even though Preston have only scored once in the Championship their chance creation had been fine in comparison to the competition so limiting The Lilywhites to less than a single big chance is more evidence to Cardiff’s organisation.
Luton aren’t amongst the chief creators in the division either. Currently in the bottom half for xG it might be a tough afternoon for neutrals as well as for Luton to get much going in attack here.
Cardiff are 20th for chances created themselves and even at home they haven’t been fluent in attack despite their more aesthetically pleasing style under Steve Morison. Cardiff’s continuing problem is in the centre forward position where the player trusted there either isn’t getting the service, isn’t able to fashion anything themselves or is missing the chances that they do get.
Carlton Morris has scored a couple of very nice goals in the last couple of games but Elijah Adebayo hasn’t caught alight yet and replacements such as Cameron Jerome or Admiral Muskwe haven’t troubled the scorers yet either.
It really is tough on all known form and information to see where a deluge of goals can come from. Set pieces are obviously a potential route but both have strong defenders and coaches that will prepare diligently.
All this being said then covering 0-0, 1-1 and 1-0/2-0 either way really does feel like covering by far the most likely results of this match so it’s a five star bet for me.
Watford v Middlesbrough
A lot of this match will depend on how strong the Watford forward line will be. With the match taking place so close to the transfer deadline will Joao Pedro and Ismaila Sarr both be available to play?
Both did play at the weekend and even so they fell to a surprise defeat to QPR. It feels as though the atmosphere at the club is on something of a knife-edge, partly as a result of the transfer situation but also with recent performances. It is certainly the case that Watford aren’t blowing teams away and they can look a touch outclassed in midfield.
The battle in that central area is likely to be key with Middlesbrough usually deploying three in there and Watford only two. Does anyone change tact and if not, does that give Middlesbrough an advantage? I do prefer Boro to get the upper hand in general play, despite being the away side, and the Jones/Giles wingback combination is working well for them.
Boro’s first win of the season last week will give them a timely pick up ahead of this as their good performances are finally rewarded. Chris Wilder’s men sit top of the expected points table still after that win and positive performance. They hung on slightly too much for my liking but the defence looks much more solid as McNair-Lenihan-Clarke than using natural fullbacks as wide central defenders. Certainly it is difficult to see many forward lines getting the better of that trio and even better, all three can play the ball confidently out of defence so can play modern Wilderball really effectively.
Rodrigo Muniz made a promising debut from the bench on Saturday and the forwards that Wilder always desires to use in a rotation is coming together nicely. Riley McGree breaking his duck in front of goal can only be a positive thing as well.
Middlesbrough are outsiders for this game so we can also take the draw on our side for an acceptable price. I really like this play because I can see this being a tight game and Boro’s away form still isn’t very trustworthy under Wilder so backing the straight win would be a riskier play.
Stoke City v Swansea City
The Potters have their man. Just days after relieving Michael O’Neill , Stoke City announced the appointment of Sunderland manager Alex Neil. The 41-year-old Scot only joined the Black Cats back in February 2022 but had a transformative effect on their season, putting together a strong unbeaten run which ultimately led to Sunderland making a triumphant return to the Championship through the League One Play-Offs. Neil should be fully expected to improve a Stoke City side that have underperformed for a number of consecutive seasons. His team at its best are built around a solid core that is relentless in its pursuit of finding crucial goals and often clinical when those opportunities fall their way. Alex Neil had 24 games in total across his six months at the Wearside outfit, and finished with a 50%-win rate, his best since his time in Scotland with Hamilton Academical.
Alex Neil’s first game at the helm of Stoke City will be at home to Swansea City. The Swans have Russell Martin at the helm, now in his second full season in South Wales. Martin’s approach to progressive, possession-based football drew all the plaudits whilst with previous club Milton Keynes Dons and led many to tip him as a manager destined for the top flight. With expectations on Swansea high ahead of the new season, his side are really failing to deliver at the moment. The Jacks have collected just five points from their first six games, and currently languish in the relegation zone on the back of consecutive defeats to Luton Town and Middlesbrough. Perhaps Swansea’s game at home to Millwall two weeks ago, where the hosts led 2-0 after 12 minutes and then proceeded to draw after conceding a pair of stoppage time own goals, best sums up how badly things are going for the Swans right now. Russell Martin’s football might be seen by many as the best thing since sliced bread, but it might not be in action at the Swansea.com Stadium for much longer if things stay as they are.
This is a strong opportunity for Alex Neil to begin his Stoke City tenure with a victory. Despite inheriting a side underperforming in the bottom half of the Championship, the Scottish manager takes control of some good quality players and comes up against a Swansea City currently performing even worse. Manchester City loan striker Liam Delap has yet to go off the mark in Staffordshire, he might well fancy the chance to exploit Swansea in possession on Wednesday night.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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