EFL Championship

EFL Championship Opta Stats: 10 of the best bets for Saturday afternoon

Bristol City boss Liam Manning
Liam Manning will be hoping to maintain his side's late season momentum

Jack Critchley has used the latest Opta Stats to pick out his best bets from this Saturday's Championship fixtures...

Bristol City vs Huddersfield

Terriers to toil on their travels

Opta Stat:

"Huddersfield Town have one win in their last 12 away league matches (D6 L5), a 2-1 win at Watford in February"

Bristol City were ruthless in midweek as they thrashed previously in-form Blackburn. Liam Manning's side chalked up an xG of 3.24 (15 shots) and looked dangerous every time they ventured forward. Tommy Conway was excellent and although this is a fairly quick turnaround for the Robins, they should be able to continue their recent momentum. It's now four wins in six at Ashton Gate and three consecutive clean sheets. They have been seriously impressive throughout March and April.

Despite taking the lead against Preston, Huddersfield were deservedly beaten at Deepdale. They conceded an xGA of 2.41 and allowed PNE to take 14 shots. They've now lost two of their last four away games and only four sides (including rock-bottom Rotherham) have conceded more goals on their travels than the West Yorkshire outfit.

Betfair Bet:

Millwall vs Cardiff

Set-piece heavy affair at the Den

Opta Stat:

"Since Neil Harris returned to Millwall, their four home league games under him have yielded 10 points and three clean sheets (W3 D1), beating Leicester City 1-0 last time out"

Millwall picked up a vital 1-0 victory over Leicester in midweek and that surprise scoreline has led the Lions to the brink of safety. A couple more victories should be enough for Neil Harris' outfit and they will fancy their chances of taking something from this encounter. Since being appointed, Harris has overseen a decent points return with his side having lost just once at the Den (vs Sheffield Wednesday). His side have scored nine goals in 11 matches and have conceded just 12 times. His style will not change for this contest.

Cardiff have won three of their last four on the road and can be extremely tricky customers away from home. Erol Bulut's side are heavily reliant upon set-pieces this season and they have an xG of just 0.86 on their travels so far. Although their games have averaged 2.52 goals per game, there have been just seven goals across their last four and they could struggle to find a way past the home rearguard.

Betfair Bet:

Hull vs QPR

BTTS at the MKM

Opta Stat:

"QPR are unbeaten in their last five away league games (W3 D2), last having a longer run between November 2021 and January 2022 (6)"

Hull have been struggling to pick up maximum points at home this season. Since Boxing Day, they've won just twice in Humberside and they have managed just a single clean sheet here since December 16th. In midweek, they were unable to hold onto a 2-0 lead against Middlesbrough and although they were the better side overall, they still look shaky at the back.

QPR picked up a point at Plymouth and are slowly edging their way to safety. They have a great recent record on the road, but this is a week of long trips and I'd expect them to concede on Saturday afternoon.

Betfair Bet:

Preston vs Norwich

Cracking afternoon at Deepdale

Opta Stat:

"Norwich drew 2-2 with Sheffield Wednesday last time out despite leading 2-0. It's the third time this season the Canaries have failed to win from two goals ahead in a league match this season, also doing so in 3-2 defeats to Leeds and Watford"

Preston's faint play-off hopes are still alive. Ryan Lowe's side will find it tough to break into the top six, however, a victory over the side who currently occupy sixth spot would seriously increase their chances of extending their season. PNE were rampant at home in midweek and their games here have been thoroughly entertaining this season, averaging 3.19 goals per game. They've netted eight times across their last three matches and in Milutin Osmajic, they have a player who is full of confidence.

Norwich games have been thoroughly absorbing this season with the Canaries rarely keeping a clean sheet on their travels. Their away matches have averaged 3.62 goals per game and they've shipped nine goals across their last five. With 76% of their away games having featured three or more goals, the price on Over 2.5 Goals is very generous indeed.

Betfair Bet:

West Brom vs Sunderland

Battle of the defences at the Hawthorns

Opta Stat:

"Sunderland have kept four clean sheets in their last five Championship matches, as many as in their previous 27 games combined"

West Brom continue to be incredibly consistent and they were always expected to beat League One-bound Rotherham in midweek. The Baggies have suffered just one defeat in their last eleven home outings and although they haven't kept as many clean sheets as they would liked, they are still extremely well-organised and tough to break down.

Sunderland have significantly improved in recent weeks and they picked up a very impressive 0-0 draw against Leeds in midweek, restricting the promotion chasers to an xG of just 0.66. They've managed four clean sheets in five and were indebited to heroic displays from Dan Ballard and Luke O'Nien in midweek. They could make this tough for the hosts.

Betfair Bet:

Swansea vs Rotherham

Swans to dispatch dispirited Millers

Opta Stat:

"Rotherham United are winless in their last nine away league matches in Wales (D4 L5) since a 1-0 win against Wrexham in September 2007"

Swans eased past Stoke in midweek and produced an xG of 1.88. It was an impressive home display from Luke Williams' side whose home side has quietly improved in recent weeks. They've won three of their last five here with each of their two defeats coming by single goal margins. Their midweek exploits will have helped improve confidence and morale within the squad and they should ease past the sorry Millers.

Rotherham were beaten by West Brom and managed an xG of just 0.39. The South Yorkshire side have failed to score in their last four away outings, although they still aren't the lowest away scorers in the division (step forward Sheffield Wednesday). They are unlikely to have enough creativity in the final third.

Betfair Bet:

Southampton vs Watford

Hornets to keep it tight at St. Marys

Opta Stat:

"Southampton have lost just two of their last 16 league meetings with Watford (W7 D7) but did lose 2-1 the last time they hosted the Hornets in March 2022 in the Premier League"

Southampton's automatic promotion hopes may have ended a couple of weeks ago, yet they will be buoyed by the fact that each of the top three dropped points in midweek. The Saints warmed up for the play-offs by beating one of their top six rivals in Coventry, although they were far from convincing. The Saints survived a missed penalty and conceded an xGA of 1.52. The hosts haven't kept a clean sheet in any of their last five here and they've won just twice during that period.

Watford worked extremely hard to take a point off Ipswich in midweek. They restricted the hosts and defended valiantly throughout the 90 minutes. Wesley Hoedt played like a man possessed and Tom Dele-Bashiru excelled in the number six role. If they can continue to produce that level of performance here, they could easily take a point from this tie at a big price.

Betfair Bet:

Sheffield Wednesday vs Stoke

Wednesday to take advantage of the extra day's preparation

Opta Stat:

"Sheffield Wednesday have lost just one of their last seven home league games (W3 D3), losing 2-0 in a Yorkshire derby against Leeds United"

Sheffield Wednesday battled back from two goals down to rescue a point against Norwich. The Owls had played relatively well and deserved to take something from the game. Although they are winless in three here, they've only lost one of their last five home matches and that came against high-flying Leeds. Danny Rohl appears to have got his side back on track following some dismal performances and they should be able to take at least a point from this encounter.

Steven Schumacher will have been disappointed with his side's application on Wednesday evening. Stoke were hammered by Swansea and produced an xG of 0.39 in the process. This is the second successive away game for the Potters in the space of four days and with their opponents having an extra 24 hours to prepare for this game (as well as home advantage), they could struggle to stay on terms.

Betfair Bet:

Ipswich vs Middlesbrough

Tractor Boys and Teessiders to entertain the masses

Opta Stat:

"Ipswich Town have scored at least twice in each of their last 19 home league matches played on Saturdays, scoring 63 goals across these matches (W15 D3 L1)"

Ipswich have now failed to score in consecutive matches for the first time this season and although there is no reason to panic, this is the first big test of Kieran McKenna's managerial credentials. In Ipswich's defence, they have faced tough opposition with their rivals Norwich having excelled at home and a much-improved Watford having put up a defensive masterclass on Wednesday night. Unfortunately, they are coming up against one of the division's form teams on Saturday in Middlesbrough.

The Teessiders are also the Championship's second highest scorers on the road and they are unbeaten in four on the road. Nevertheless, Michael Carrick's men have managed just two away clean sheets since October 7th and they came against Birmingham and QPR. It will be much trickier to keep this weekend's hosts off the scoresheet.

Betfair Bet:

Birmingham vs Coventry

Sky Blues to edge out their Midlands rivals

Opta Stat:

"Coventry have only failed to score in one of their last 25 Championship matches, a 3-0 defeat at home to Preston in February. Their 66 goals this season are already their most in a second tier league season since 2003-04 (67 goals)"

Birmingham slipped up against Cardiff in midweek and there were plenty of boos ringing around St. Andrews following the final whistle. If they fall behind this weekend, the mood could easily turn sour around the stadium. Brum have notched 27 times on their own patch this season, yet they've scored just once in their last four here and have picked up just three points from a possible 15. Gary Rowett has potentially made them harder to beat, but they aren't showing enough at the other end of the field.

Coventry were fairly unluckly to be beaten by Southampton in midweek and they have had an extra day to prepare for this clash. They may not keep many clean sheets on the road, but they do score plenty of goals and have taken 23 points from 30 when travelling to bottom half sides.

Betfair Bet:

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Jack Critchley's 2023-24 P/L

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Returned: 370.18

P/L: -11.92


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