Swansea v Hull
The Swans have been undergoing something of a quiet adjustment in the way that they are approaching their football.
Earlier in the season I was concerned about Russell Martin’s men as there appeared to be a clear blueprint to defeat them. However, Martin appears to be taking a slightly more pragmatic approach and were it not for some profligate finishing and some unlucky concessions we could be looking at a mid-table or higher side here. Indeed, The Swans actually sit 2nd for expected points from their last four matches.
However, I do believe we’re starting to see the problems at Hull City. In early season there was momentum brought by a series of wins. This has now dissipated, and the goals of Oscar Estupinan have dried up. This was to be expected as the goals were coming from a low XG number, and now that the results have turned it is difficult to see where the next goals are going to come from for Estupinan and Hull as a team.
Hull are down the very bottom of the championship table for chances created and conceded (as measured by xG) and their expected points form is very concerning, currently 23rd in that table over the last eight matches.
They do have the returning Jean-Michel Seri to help them, but the summer recruitment is beginning to look a little concerning. Undoubtedly there has been a lot of excitement about the players that were brought in over the summer but when you bring in lots of players from Turkey and Portugal and expect them to mix with the existing squad and domestic transfers it can take a while for that mix to be successful. Shota Arveladze has also yet to prove that he is a manager capable of success in the Championship and although it is a tough task to bring it all together and get the team performing in a coherent way the Georgian is coming under increasing pressure.
Swansea were unfortunate not to get anything from the game at home to Sheffield United midweek. If they can take that kind of level of performance into this match against Hull City, then I have no doubt that they will win the xG battle. As always, however, it is then a case of taking your chances. They didn’t manage to do that midweek, but the good news is it may not take many goals to win this game.
Swansea continue to be effective defensively and always have an organised good shape about them. Their central midfield 3 of Joe Allen, Matt Grimes, and Jay Fulton are all busy and effective players in that central area and that slightly more defensive bias makes them difficult to meet here.
Watford v Sunderland
Having watched both of these teams mostly in midweek it is impossible to support Watford at the price is quoted. Although Vicarage Road is obviously a very difficult place to go, especially for a newly promoted side, Sunderland were very impressive in mid week at Reading.
There is a concern with Sunderland, however, after Ellis Simms sustained an injury in the Reading game combined with Ross Stewart’s current injury, but they will have no centre-forward coming into this match.
On Wednesday this wasn’t a problem at all as Elliot Embleton came from the bench and created a technical and fluid front six that tore Reading apart. Indeed, the third goal of Sunderland’s in midweek is a definite contender for goal of the season with its fluidity and sharp passing and movement. It is this technicality and pace that concerns me from a Watford perspective in this match.
Watford at Blackburn Rovers were very ponderous on the ball and off the ball. There is a lack of dynamism in central areas that is a massive concern going forward into the season. Rovers were able to press Watford in their own half very successfully and also able to play through them at times which is what Sunderland will try to do with this fixture.
When you add to this Watford’s inability to constantly create chances, they have a bottom third chance creation rate, there are concerning signs for Rob Edwards and his staff. When you consider that there has been more movement behind the scenes as well, with another couple of difficult results this could become a transition season for Watford rather than a promotion season. There is definitely some unrest at the club at the stage.
Sunderland did have a concern defensively when Dennis Cirkin was ruled out for a few weeks however Aji Alese had a very impressive performance in mid week and if he can continue that development then he should be in a good position to fill Cirkin’s boots for the foreseeable future. With that being the case it also allows Jack Clarke to be a little bit more attack minded as he has done very well so far this season.
Overall, there has been a seamless transition from Alex Neil to Tony Mowbray and the credit for that must go down to the new manager, his staff, and the players. At Blackburn Rovers Tony Mowbray’s away record in the championship was steadily improving, so there is no reason that Sunderland should suffer on the road, as proven this week. Being able to take the draw on board alongside a Sunderland win seems like a good value play.
Preston v Sheffield United
You would have certainly made yourself richer if you had backed under two and a half goals in every Preston match in the Championship so far. Whilst this run has come to an end sometime soon I do not think it will be this game.
This is mainly due to Preston’s opponents. Sheffield United come here off the back of a very narrow win which is very much in keeping with how I view The Blades this season. Paul Heckingbottom has Sheffield United very organised from defence into attack, and well protected on transition. The xG statistics back this up as Blades only concede an average of 0.53xG per 90 in open play so far this season, boiled down this means that Sheffield United do not concede very many chances.
This is very likely to be a 3 at the back vs 3 at the back match and sometimes this means a high degree of congestion in midfield and also at both ends of the pitch. Preston’s partnership of Emil Riis and Troy Parrott has yet to catch light with only one goal between them so far in The Championship this season. Based on all known information so far this season you would back the Sheffield United back three over the Preston front two in a physical and tactical battle.
However, despite being top of the league and being impressive so far this season it still feels to me that Sheffield United haven’t found a formula in attack just yet. Fitness issues, players out of form, and the use of different structures means that United haven’t hit upon a consistent structure going forwards. Their open play attacking data has them creating chances to the value of less than a goal a game, not ideal for a promotion aiming outfit.
Of course, because of this long spell with very few goals Preston’s defence is very well drilled as well. Freddie Woodman generally been inspired for this season and backed up by a regular back three/five I won’t be backing Sheffield United’s attack to breach Preston’s defence on multiple occasions here.
As a general comment The Championship is suffering from a lack of goals at the moment. Much of this I suspect is down to the tactical approach of the managers in the league and also the lack of genuine goalscorers. When one of the forwards in this game, Emil Riis, has been touted for £20 million in the summer, as he was in a few weeks ago, it is proof that there are very few genuine marksman out there for Championship clubs to use.
Unfortunately for us, this does also mean that the bookmakers are shortening quotes for the unders. This is worth selecting the right matches is paramount and hopefully this match will come in under 2.5 goals.
Burnley v Bristol City
By this stage Nigel Pearson must be getting close to tearing his lovely head of hair out.
Every week Pearson comes out and has to explain about how his defence has let him down again, but on the other hand they continue to score goals. It must be very frustrating to find individual mistakes undoing your planning, however, the balance of the team is such that Bristol City always seem open to goals in their games.
Burnley also adopt an attacking style but in a very different way. Vincent Kompany sets up to score goals but by controlling possession. Whilst Burnley’s xG is ok it is not as high as what the Belgian would have hoped for. This looks to be an ideal opportunity for Burnley to take the handbrake off and take advantage of the flakiness of The Robins defence.
Burnley have the attacking talent to do it as well. While some of the imports from Europe haven’t hit the ground running there is clear ability in there. There is bravery from the manager to be playing Manuel Benson at left-back, it’s showing some level of ambition but in truth the returns have yet to come for Kompany.
We all know about Bristol City’s attacking force at this stage. I would be repeating myself from many weeks now if I was to list out the attacking talent Bristol City have in their ranks this season. However, Nahki Wells and Tommy Conway teamed up for a fantastic goal again mid week and that shows no signs of abating. Antoine Semenyoq also came off the bench once again to score a goal and iit’s only a matter of time before he makes his way into the starting lineup, but it is very difficult for a person to drop any of his attacking players at this stage.
With Adam Scott going back into central midfield and keep impressing non-stop from there and Mark Sykes to have been asked to play a right wing back role there is already so much attacking bias to the side that adding Semenyo to this will probably take it that touch too far. Being able to deploy him after the hour mark takes advantage of their opponents’ tired legs.
Unless there is a change of tactics from Bristol City I can see goals in this game. Supporting the over two-and-a-half line seems like a good play.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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