Birmingham v Millwall
It would be fair to say that Birmingham City are in a bit of a tricky spot right now. It does feel as though they find themselves in this spot every season in the Championship but Lee Bowyer’s tenure is very much on the edge at the moment. By all accounts, the away end at Blackpool was as vitriolic as at any stage of the Karanka reign at Birmingham so the unrest is real and concerning.
Millwall find themselves in the exact opposite end of the spectrum. They are the most in-form of any of the play-off chasers and although the gap between the teams in terms of performances isn’t quite as vast (Birmingham 22nd v Millwall 8th), the results and the motivation to achieve them are poles apart for the two teams.
Gary Rowett has managed to find a way of moving forwards without relying quite so much on the mercurial talents of Jed Wallace. With the star out injured Rowett has been able to combine the talents of experienced Championship striker Benik Afobe with the goalscoring instincts of Tom Bradshaw and introduced young pace in the form of Tyler Burey. With the variety of that attack in combination with the proven organisation and structure of a Millwall side under Rowett it is easy to see how they have managed to churn out results. The only concern is whether they will buckle under the pressure of being the closest challengers to the playoffs.
However, if Millwall start well and even score early on in this match then St. Andrews could become a very difficult place for the home side to play. It may even be an advantage for Millwall to have this match away from home for this reason. At a price over even money the Millwall win is a touch of value.
Derby v Bristol City
No one can deny that Derby have given it their absolute best effort to avoid relegation despite the, ultimately, insurmountable odds of their points deductions and lack of transfer budget. The tactics adopted by Wayne Rooney and Liam Rosenior have generally been prudent but with the handbrake off recently, Derby have been generating chances at an above average rate recently.
Now, with their fate sealed, we may well see all caution thrown to the wind and genuine freedom to the players. The recent addition of Malcolm Ebiowei to the Rams’ attack has given them more pace and trickery alongside the physical presence of Luke Plange and the technique of Tom Lawrence. Though the goals haven’t flown in the chances are being created and against a defence as open as Bristol City’s, it is likely that they will flow again.
City will certainly be viewing this season as one of experience for some important young players. Alex Scott, Antoine Semenyo and Han-Noah Massengo have contributed valuable minutes towards their own development. Semenyo was key to the Robins’ goal against Sheffield United with his relentless running power and if he can get isolated 1v1 against any Derby defender he can beat them and create the opportunity to score.
The Robins have actually been creating a higher xG per 90 than Derby recently, but, as has become routine, they are fielding an even higher xG against per 90 against them. Both teams will have chances here and with nothing on the line, it could be an entertaining match. Getting a good price about both finding the back of the net is the recommendation here.
Hull v Reading
Both clubs will be relatively pleased with their changes of management a few months ago. Shota Arveladze has seen Hull to the end of the campaign with a respectable, if not spectacular record, whereas Paul Ince has turned Reading around fairly impressively during his tenure.
It has helped Ince to have some of his key forward players back to a decent level of fitness. Lucas Joao and John Swift are key Reading contributors and having them available has been crucial to Ince. Those two, in combination with any of Ejaria, Tom Ince and Josh Laurent provide a high level of creativity and threat that outmatches anything that Hull can offer. Reading have been performing at a top half standard of late, creating 1.35xG per 90 to 1.17xGA per 90 during the last four matches.
Meanwhile Hull sit bottom of the Championship in the same period for expected points. This is a match with the performance levels quite far apart and with Reading needing one more result to fully guarantee safety they are also the team with the greater motivation coming into this fixture as well.
It would be prudent to take the draw out of the equation in our wager though. Reading have won only 5 of 21 away xG battles all season, hence their poor league position. However, with this being against another poorly performing side and taking current form into account Reading should be favourites in the Draw No Bet market and they aren’t so this feels like a good value play.
Peterborough v Nottingham Forest
Going back in with Peterborough may seem a strange choice as recently we have been falling just short with the overs bets in their matches. However, we have a bit of help on our side here with the visitors. It is possible that Forest cover the over 2.5 goal line all on their own, so taking some of the pressure off Peterborough.
Posh have definitely improved under Grant McCann, especially going forwards. Picking up maximum points over the Easter weekend was thoroughly deserved as both visually on the pitch and by the numbers they created more than their opponents. Now, for the first time all season, Peterborough are sitting comfortably in the middle of the league for recent expected points.
No doubt that this will not have escaped the attention of Steve Cooper and his staff though. The Forest boss will be keen to try and keep the pressure on Bournemouth as much as possible for the final automatic promotion spot as well as solidifying their claims on a playoff berth. A mixture of good fortune and poor officiating gave Forest plenty of help against West Brom, but ultimately they were too strong and too good for West Brom.
I would favour Forest to get the better of Posh in the match. Brennan Johnson and Philip Zinckernagel were excellent the other night and though Keinan Davis looks to be out for the season, either one of Lewis Grabban or Sam Surridge are high quality replacements for the level. However, rather than backing Forest outright it may be wise to be cautious with Peterborough’s form by simply backing goals instead.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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