Middlesbrough v Cardiff
Middlesbrough saw off Sunderland in the “Is it actually a derby?” Derby and probably deserved the win on the balance of play. Here Boro entertain an arguably inferior opponent in Cardiff and without doubt will be looking to back up that second win of the season to gather some serious momentum.
Boro’s performance metrics have really never been any less than good. Looking at chances created and conceded they “should” be in and around the top six. Indeed, their expected points over the season would have Chris Wilder’s men in sixth, they are fourth for xG supremacy as well.
Now that the window is closed and Wilder knows the squad he is working with until January there is a good chance he can settle down and find a way of making it work. At the moment that seems like Rodrigo Muniz leading the line with Riley McGree in support. The Australian has enjoyed the freedom of that role so far chipping in with two goals in the last two games and threatening more. However, they do have Marcus Forss, Duncan Watmore, and Matthew Hoppe in reserve as well to change it during the game.
If the forwards are balanced then there has never been any doubt about the quality and solidity of what is in behind them. Cardiff’s biggest problem to solve is probably how they are going to create enough good chances against the well-drilled shape of the Teessiders. If Cardiff do open up somewhat to attack then their former loanee, Ryan Giles, will be prepared to attack the spaces and feed the forwards.
Cardiff continue to misfire though. An average 0.65xG per game over the last four games demonstrates how tough Cardiff are finding it to create chances in general so a trip to the Riverside is probably not the assignment you would want next up.
Blackburn Rovers v Watford
10 days after their last fixtures 7th place Blackburn Rovers host 6th Watford, with both knowing that a victory will see them end the midweek session in the Championship’s top six places.
Following a 100% start at Ewood Park, Blackburn Rovers have picked up consecutive home defeats. Their 3-2 defeat to Bristol City at the start of the month however demonstrated how they are a team that are difficult to keep quiet. Chile International Ben Brereton Díaz remains a Blackburn player and the team’s primary goal threat. His 93rd minute goal against Bristol City brought up his league tally up to four so far from eight appearances. 20-year-old Tyrhys Dolan was also on the scoresheet that weekend and is part of a rotated frontline that can also include Bradley Dack, Ryan Hedges, George Hirst, Sam Gallagher, Sammie Szmodics, Jack Vale and Dilan Markanday.
Watford enter this Tuesday encounter a point above their opponents. The Hornets’ 3-2 defeat at home to Queens Park Rangers is the only league game they have been beaten in so far, winning three and drawing four of their other seven matches. Watford’s goalless draw at Preston North End is the only match where Rob Edwards’ side have failed to find the net, and that is little surprise when you consider what is available to them in forward areas. Brazilian João Pedro and Senegalese forward Ismaïla Sarr remain contracted at Vicarage Road despite rumours of Premier League moves during the recent summer window. Both have a pair of league goals to their name so far, as does Ivorian forward Vakoun Issouf Bayo, brought in during the summer from Belgian club Charleroi.
This mid-September clash between Blackburn Rovers and Watford offers the chance for both teams to find the net. Watford matches have been typically close affairs across their season so far, finding the net in all but one of their eight league games. Blackburn Rovers have tasted defeat more often than their Hertfordshire visitors, but possess undoubtedly goalscoring quality in players like Ben Brereton Díaz and Tyrhys Dolan. There’s a good chance both goalkeepers could be beaten at Ewood Park on Tuesday.
Norwich v Bristol City
Unlike most of The Championship teams when you look at Norwich and Bristol City there are real goals in both teams. Norwich have really hit their stride now and look a force in every game they come to play whilst Bristol City still give up too many chances and cheap goals but have scored in all of their league games this season.
In a slightly surprising move last week Dean Smith took Josh Sargent out of the central forward role to bring back Teemu Pukki, shifting the American out to the right. This didn’t work at all in the Premier League but worked an absolute treat against Coventry as Pukki scored a typically Pukki goal and then Sargent was in the right place to finish an easier chance. If the two of them can find a way to dovetail in this side then it gives opposition defences real questions to answer.
Bristol City don’t have the sharpest of defences to answer those questions. Despite putting in an excellent performance at Blackburn in their last fixture they still allowed Rovers to score two goals. The fact that those goals were very similar to the type of goals one may expect a Pukki or Sargent type to score only reaffirms our angle in here.
The final piece of evidence that I wanted to convey in support of goals is Bristol City’s attacking prowess. The five options for the three forward positions that Nigel Pearson has are either in excellent form or proven Championship quality. The current first choice starters of Tommy Conway, Nakhi Wells and Andreas Weimann showcased fabulous movement and combination play at Ewood Park that resulted in two goals and many other chances. Being able to call on Chris Martin and Antoine Semenyo to change the game is serious strength in depth and the numbers back up Bristol City’s ability going forward too.
Reading v Sunderland
The Royals can do little wrong right now. Entering the season with plenty of doubts from external observers, Reading have won five of their eight league games, spending time at the top of the Championship table and currently sitting third with just Sheffield United and Norwich City ahead of them. Paul Ince utilises a variance of a 3-5-2 formation with Andy Yiadom and Junior Hoilett making providing wing-back width in front of a backline that contains Sam Hutchinson, Tom Holmes and Tom McIntyre with Joe Lumley in goal. Midfielder Jeff Hendrick has played almost every minute this season with Paul Ince’s son Tom continuing to be influential in attacking areas. Striker Lucas João, who declared for Angola back in March, leads the way for Reading with three of their nine league goals so far. The other six are shared between six individual players including McIntyre, Ince, Holiett and experienced Irish striker Shane Long.
Last season’s League One Play-Off winners Sunderland ultimately require just survival to confirm a successful 2022-23 season, but on early performances look a side that could do more than just stay afloat. Even with the sudden departure of Alex Neil, the Black Cats carry confidence in new boss Tony Mowbray, and despite losing star striker Ross Stewart to a period of injury, Sunderland can still call upon Everton loanee Ellis Simms who should soon build on the brace he scored at Bristol City back in August. The absence of Stewart presents an opportunity for wide men Jack Clarke and Lyden Gooch to further prove their value to the Wearside outfit, as it does also for Alex Pritchard and Patrick Roberts who took up attacking midfield positions behind Simms in Sunderland’s most recent match.
Reading have looked the surprise package so far in a division that can always promise surprise packages. Paul Ince’s have won every game they have scored in this season, with all of their matches averaging 2.5 goals so far. Sunderland’s eight matches in turn have also seen an average of 2.5 goals scored, and even in the absence of their star Scot up top, the Black Cats have forward players that the Royals will do well to keep quiet at the Select Car Leasing Stadium. The away side will be well backed well on the road, as they always are, and that crowd will be expecting goals.
Millwall v QPR
Millwall’s defence finally came to the party last time out, keeping a clean sheet against Cardiff. We are hoping for something similar here as again there appears to be a lack of goals in the set up of these teams.
QPR struggled to create anything of note against Swansea in Wales but whatever you do don’t tell Mick Beale that his side are struggling in their xG data in attack and defence. His apparent opinion on xG was laid bare in this recent West London Sport article in response to criticism in this area. However, the truth is that if you are relying on long distance shots and low quality chances to bring you the goals you need to win games then sometimes it doesn’t come off. This is the concern ahead of this match, Millwall are unlikely to allow those high-quality chances, as they generally didn’t against Cardiff last time out, unless there are some really well worked moves. It doesn’t sound as though Beale is following the Pep school of six-yard box goals so will need Willock, Chair etc. to fire them in again, which, of course, they are capable of.
In fact, neither side have generated over 1.5xG of goal chances in a single match this season, which means that their expected number of goals scored has never been above 1 in a game. This piece of research made me consider the under 2.5 goal line as a good bet, also from the 16 matches the clubs have played so far this season 10 went under this line and 6 went over. Bearing this in mind it makes the odds offered here a tiny bit of value too.
I think Millwall will hit their stride sooner or later and with Benik Afobe breaking his duck last time out there is a chance it could be now, but a narrow home win would be totally acceptable for this bet anyway.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
18+ please gamble responsibly.
Back the Four and Five Star Selections as an Accumulator on Betfair ⬇️
*Bet link only appears when accessing from mobile.
Haven’t got a Betfair account? You’re in luck…
Sign up to Betfair and get a full refund if your first bet loses. Grab an account through the offer below and place £20 on the 17/1 Championship Best Bets Accumulator. Here are the two possible outcomes: