Barnsley to slump to defeat at Oakwell
Barnsley raced into a 2-0 lead against QPR last weekend before being pegged back by the resurgent Hoops in the second half. Many Tykes fans bemoaned their side’s inability to sustain their high levels of efficiency across the 90 minutes, however, Mark Warburton’s early tactical change also had a significant effect on the game. The South Yorkshire side were unable to find space in the second period, and they are unlikely to find Birmingham particularly accommodating this weekend. Lee Bowyer’s side have struggled in the final third this season, however, they will be full of confidence after smashing five past Luton seven days ago. Tahith Chong acted as chief creator, however there were also notable performances from goalscorers Scott Hogan and Marc Roberts, with Harlee Dean also catching the eye. The visitors lost to Fulham in the EFL Cup, however, Ivan Sunjic was the only survivor from last weekend’s XI. The hosts have netted just a single goal in their opening two home matches and they were given a significant let-off when Viktor Gykores’ tame penalty was saved by Bradley Collins. Birmingham are yet to concede on their travels and at 7/5 Draw No Bet on the Sportsbook, they look worth backing to get something from this tie.
Recommended Bet: Back Birmingham Draw No Bet (vs Barnsley) @ 2.47/5
Entertaining afternoon in West London
Mark Warburton has overseen a terrific start to the season and his QPR side will be confident of extending their unbeaten run this weekend. The former Nottingham Forest manager held his hands up and admitted that he named the wrong starting XI against Barnsley last weekend, however, the introduction of Dominic Ball and Albert Adomah helped to turn the tide. The R’s were also victorious in midweek, easing past League One Oxford with defender Rob Dickie hitting the back of the net for the fourth time this season. Despite naming a relatively strong side, the hosts should be ready for this weekend’s clash and having produced some decent xG numbers (1.5 and 2.2) recently, they should be able to get on the score-sheet. Coventry have looked lively so far with only two Championship sides producing more shots on target then the Sky Blues. Mark Robins‘ side have also managed 25 efforts on goal, two more than high-flying West Brom. Viktor Gyokeres has been singled out for praise by his manager and with the scheming of Callum O’Hare and the return of Matt Godden, they should be able to contribute to a hugely entertaining and absorbing contest.
Recommended Bet: Back Over 2.5 Goals in QPR vs Coventry @ 2.0811/10
Mowbray’s men to trouble the Teessiders
Middlesbrough’s goalless draw against Derby was one of the more forgettable Championship fixtures so far this season, and the Teesiders will be hoping to deliver a little more entertainment at the Riverside Stadium this weekend. Neil Warnock’s side have been involved in some end-to-end affairs at this stadium recently, and only three sides can boast better xG numbers in front of their own fans. The addition of Uche Ikpeazu has given the Teessiders some much needed urgency in the final third, whilst Matt Crooks appears to have carried on where he left off at Rotherham. Blackburn were defeated 2-1 by West Brom last weekend, however, the Lancastrians emerged with plenty of credit and although they had to withstand large periods of pressure, they still managed to find a way past the Baggies’ back-line. Rovers haven’t been at their free-flowing on the road, yet they rarely draw a blank. They still have plenty of players on the sidelines, although the addition of Ian Poveda will give them another option going forward. This could be a very enjoyable 90 minutes.
Recommended Bet: Back BTTS in Middlesbrough vs Blackburn @ 1.9420/21
PNE and Swans to share the points
Preston are up and running for the season. The Lilywhites clinched their first victory of the campaign with a deserved success over an uninspiring Peterborough side. Frankie McAvoy‘s men looked fairly assured at the back, and although creativity still remains a problem, they had chances to extend their lead in the second half. PNE were missing several key players last weekend and they will be hoping that Alan Browne, Liam Lindsay and Ched Evans are able to return for this weekend’s fixture. A striker and a creative midfielder are likely to be on the shopping list this week as the Lancashire outfit inevitably look to strengthen before the transfer window closes at the end of the month. Swansea also picked up their first victory of the campaign, and although Russell Martin bemoaned his side’s inability to retain possession, he is likely to be delighted with their application against Bristol City. Joel Piroe appears to be decent summer signing and the Dutchman could give the PNE defence plenty to think about. There isn’t much between these two sides and this could potentially end all-square at Deepdale.
Recommended Bet: Back Draw in Preston vs Swansea @ 3.39/4
High-scoring affair in the Potteries
Prior to this season, Stoke fans had become accustomed to disappointment and the long-suffering support had become used to seeing their side chalked up as pre-season favourites before inevitably labouring to a mid-table finish. However, this time around, there seems to be genuine optimism and the Potters appear to be a well-oiled machine under Michael O’Neill. They are unbeaten so far, however, this could be their toughest test to date. Josh Tymon got his first goal of the campaign following an excellent team move last weekend, and although several players underperformed, they rarely had to get out of second gear against a hapless Nottingham Forest outfit. Fulham were excellent value for their 2-0 victory over Hull at Craven Cottage, and although the victory was marred by injuries to Tim Ream and Kenny Tete, they West Londonders are lethal in the final third. With a defensive reshuffle required, Marco Silva‘s side are unlikely to keep a clean sheet, and having conceded in their two previous away fixtures, backing BTTS looks like the best option in this contest.
Recommended Bet: Back BTTS in Stoke vs Fulham @ 2.021/1
Cherries to edge out the Tigers
Hull have failed to build on their opening day victory over Preston and they have now drawn a blank in each of their last three matches. Their xG numbers have been disappointing over the last couple of weeks, and Grant McCann must find a way to improve his side’s productivity. Nevertheless, there are several players yet to return from injury and with a full seven days to prepare for this fixture, the men from Humberside are likely to be fairly competitive on Saturday afternoon. Greg Docherty has looked industrious in recent weeks and the defensive partnership of Jacob Greaves and Di’Shon Bernard has plenty of potential. Bournemouth blew a two goal lead to Blackpool last weekend leaving Scott Parker furious with his side’s lack of concentration. The Cherries could easily have extended their advantage, however, they switched off at the back and let the Seasiders back into the contest. Parker’s men have been far from convincing so far, and they have relied on individual talent in recent weeks, however, they have more than enough quality to win this.
Recommended Bet: Back Bournemouth to beat Hull @ 2.226/5
Both sides to find the net at the Den
Both of these sides have identical records so far this season (0-2-2), and they are both still searching for their first Championship victory of the campaign. Millwall were victorious in the EFL Cup in midweek, however, the Lions have failed to fire in the second tier, and their inability to score more than a single goal in a game has cost them vital points. Benik Afobe‘s form is a significant positive, whereas defender Dan Ballard faces the club he helped to promotion last season. There is something lacking in the Lions’ midfield, and although it has plenty of bite, it rarely creates clearcut chances. Blackpool were dumped out of the EFL Cup by Sunderland on Tuesday night, however, Neil Critchley‘s men will still be buoyed by last weekend’s 2-2 draw at Bournemouth. This is a tough fixture for the newly promoted Seasiders, however, they are playing with plenty of spirit and they have looked far more efficient on the road so far this season. They will be backed by the vociferous Tangerine Army and the travelling fans should have something to cheer in Bermondsey.
Recommended Bet: Back BTTS in Millwall vs Blackpool @ 2.021/1
Stalemate at Kenilworth Road
Luton were thumped by Birmingham last weekend and the Hatters must find a way to bounce back here. The general concensus is that Nathan Jones was guilty of overthinking his pre-game preparations and he’s unlikely to deploy a five-man defence for this contest. The Hatters are usually a fairly reliable propostion, and last week’s freak result is unlikely to linger. Despite the negative outcome, they still managed to fire in 11 efforts, and should have found a way past the Birmingham defence. Sheffield United posted their best xG numbers of the season so far against Huddersfield, however, they were unable to come away with anything to show for their efforts. Slavisa Jokanovic looked a little exasperated by his side’s defeat, however, the Blades created a handful of decent chances and they will surely start to find their rhythm over the coming weeks. Both of these two sides are hoping to put disappointing outcomes firmly behind them, and as a result, neither are likely to give much away in Bedfordshire.
Recommended Bet: Back Draw in Luton vs Sheffield United @ 3.259/4
Terriers to take advantage of porous opponents
Huddersfield have been slowly improving in recent weeks and Carlos Corberan will be pleased with his side’s progress since their 5-1 humbling at the hands of Fulham on August 14th. The Terriers have clinched back-to-back victories and put in another positive performance against Premier League opposition in the EFL Cup on Tuesday night. They have an exceptionally young squad and although one or two additions are still required, there are plenty of players who can be pleased with their performance levels so far. Levi Colwill is earning rave reviews, whilst Josh Koroma has looked hungry in the final third. The pace and skill of Sorba Thomas has also caught the eye and Huddersfield fans will be hoping that he isn’t the subject of interest from higher up the pyramid. Reading’s defensive woes have hindered their progress so far with the Royals having conceded more goals than any other Championship side. Both Coventry and Bristol City have opened them up with ease, and Huddersfield shouldn’t have too many problems finding the back of the net here.
Recommended Bet: Back Huddersfield to beat Reading @ 2.447/5
You can follow Jack Critchley on Twitter @jcritch7