High-flying Bournemouth and Brentford lock horns in Saturday's curtain-raiser from the Championship. Mark O'Haire previews the encounter...
"Eight of the hosts’ most recent 10 tussles have broken the Over 2.5 Goals barrier and eight have also rewarded Both Teams To Score backers"
Bournemouth v Brentford
Saturday April 24, 12:30
Bournemouth extend winning streak
Bournemouth comfortably beat Millwall 4-1 at The Den on Wednesday to register their seventh consecutive Championship win to move up to third. The Cherries stormed ahead in a domineering first half, as Philip Billing fired in, Arnaut Danjuma put the visitors 2-0 up before David Brooks added a third without reply before the half-time interval.
Millwall pulled a goal back soon after the break, but Dominic Solanke got off the mark when he slotted home after a neat one-two with Billing to complete the rout. The result lifted Bournemouth two places in the table as they maintained their fine late season form to all but confirm their position in this season's Championship play-offs.
When asked if the first 45 minutes was the best he has seen since taking over, Bournemouth boss Jonathan Woodgate said, "Yeah, I'd say so. It was an extremely good performance. We did play some exceptional football, but let's not get over-confident because you know what football is like. We need to be confident, not over-confident, stick to what we do, stick to the game plan and we should be okay."
Brentford's top-two dreams disintegrate
Brentford lost further ground in the race for automatic promotion as the Bees were held at home to a 1-1 draw by Cardiff on Tuesday night. Kieffer Moore's penalty put the visitors in front after Ethan Pinnock's handball. But the Bluebirds could not hold on to their lead with goalkeeper Alex Smithies allowing Tariqe Fosu's 25-yard effort to slip through his grasp.
Thomas Frank's team pressed for a late winner but struggled to create any genuine chances against their stubborn opponents, much to the frustration of the Brentford chief. With second-placed Watford winning, the Bees are now 10 points adrift of the top two with four games left this season, having played one fewer than the Hornets.
Speaking post-match, Frank said: "Of course when we don't get the win it's frustrating. I value the team on four parameters - hard work, attitude, performance and togetherness - and I couldn't have asked for more. I think we upped our game and had the cutting edge in the final third to create the bigger chances but we didn't have the cutting edge to put them away."
Bournemouth and Brentford have been regular competitors this century, with the vast majority of their meetings arriving outside the top-two tiers. Nevertheless, the duo have shared a remarkably balanced W8-D6-L9 return across all league encounters since the start of 2000/01, although the Cherries have dominated at Dean Court, posting W7-D2-L2.
Bournemouth 2.447/5 have won each of their last seven Championship matches to move into third and secure their spot in the play-offs. Jonathan Woodgate's side have turned over both Swansea and Norwich in that sequence and also tabled four home triumphs from five when welcoming top-seven rivals. The hosts have also won six of their past eight here.
Brentford's 2.962/1 promotion prospects have stalled in recent weeks. The Bees had tabled eight triumphs from nine during a remarkably impressive unbeaten streak through the winter but Thomas Frank's team have managed just W4-D6-L4 in their most recent 14 outings since Valentine's Day. That includes a frustrating six stalemates in their last seven.
It's been feast or famine for goals backers following Bournemouth. A chunky 30% of contests have concluded with fewer than two goals, whilst 35% of fixtures have featured four goals or more. Nevertheless, eight of the hosts' most recent 10 tussles have broken the Over 2.5 Goals 2.001/1 barrier and eight have also rewarded Both Teams To Score 1.768/11 backers.
Surprisingly, Brentford had kept their sheets clean in only three of 21 Championship contests since mid-December before their current streak of three shutouts in four.
Even so, the Bees own firepower has led to 15 of those 24 tussles paying out in the BTTS column and so a repeat appeals considering the attacking quality on show, plus the duo being pretty much signed and sealed for the Championship play-offs with three games to spare this season.
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