EFL Championship

Championship Opta Stats: Tips and best bets for Saturday afternoon

Hull manager Liam Rosenior
Hull are still in with a play-off chance

Jack Critchley has studied the latest Opta Stats and has picked out a best bet in each of this weekend's 3pm KOs in the Championship...

Watford vs Hull

Lively 90 minutes at Vicarage Road

Opta Stat:

"Since he made his Hull City debut in January, only Josh Sargent (11) and Ellis Simms (10) and Ché Adams (9) have scored more Championship goals than Fábio Carvalho (8)"

Watford may only have picked up a single victory since mid-February, however, performances have undoubtedly picked up since Tom Cleverley temporarily replaced Val Ismael. The Hornets have faced a difficult run of fixtures and they have taken points off Leeds, Ipswich and West Brom and they were seconds away from repeating the trick last weekend at Southampton. Cleverley has clearly motivated his side and although they still look vulnerable at the back, they are far slicker going forward and we've seen improved performances from Yaser Asprilla and Emmanuel Dennis. Although performances have improved, the hosts still haven't won in front of their own fans since November 28th and at 13/82.63, it may be better to look elsewhere.

Hull have six points to make up on Norwich and they look unlikely to displace the in-form Canaries. Nevertheless, Liam Rosenior's men are playing well and they have picked up seven points from a possible nine. The Tigers have also netted eight times in those matches and with Fabio Carvalho and Jaden Philogene in the XI, they pose plenty of threats. Five of Hull's last six away games have featured at least three goals and this is likely to go the same way.

Betfair Bet:

Sunderland vs Millwall

Lions to struggle to break down the hosts

Opta Stat:

"Millwall have lost each of their last three away league games and will be looking to avoid recording four in succession for the first time since September 2019"

Sunderland's faint play-off ambitions slowly faded away a few weeks ago, however, results have picked up in April and they've lost just one of their last six matches. Aside from the incongruous 5-1 defeat at home to Blackburn, the Black Cats have barely conceded a goal and they've managed to keep clean sheets in each of their last three outings. They haven't given much away recently and with just a couple of home games left, they'll be looking to end their recent home hoodoo. The hosts haven't won here since February 10th and this appears to be the ideal opportunity to get three points on the board.

Millwall aren't 100% safe yet, however, realistically, they only need another point or two to secure their Championship status. The Lions have relied upon their home form under Neil Harris and although their away form has been lacklustre, the majority of those games have been decided by slender margins. There is unlikely to be much between these two.

Betfair Bet:

Stoke vs Plymouth

Pilgrims to potentially edge this basement battle

Opta Stat:

"Stoke City have won just two of their last 14 home league games (D6 L6), a run during which the Potters have failed to score in eight separate matches"

This is the Steven Schumacher derby. The Stoke boss will host his former club on Saturday with both sides requiring points in order to preserve their Championship status. The hosts are just two points clear of the drop zone whereas the visitors have an additional point and head into this fixture with plenty of momentum. The Potters have won just one of their last six and are winless in their last three here. They have been the better side in the majority of their recent home matches, yet they have struggled to finish sides off.

Plymouth have improved under the temporary tenure of Michael Dewsnip and they've shown plenty of spirit and grit in their recent outings. They've conceded just two goals across their last four matches and have taken seven points from a possible nine. This is a long trip for the visitors, yet they're showing enough character to take at least a point back to Devon.

Betfair Bet:

Huddersfield vs Swansea

Tight and tense affair in West Yorkshire

Opta Stat:

"Huddersfield Town have won just six of their 21 home league games this season (D7 L8), though five of those victories have also seen the Terriers keep a clean sheet, including their last such match (1-0 vs Millwall)"

Huddersfield's situation is fairly desperate. The Terriers require points in order to preserve their Championship status and this appears to be a decent opportunity to put pressure on those teams directly above them. They were left frustrated by the late concession of a soft penalty last weekend and will be determined to bounce back. A lack of goals and killer instinct has held them back this season and they've netted just six times in eight outings and haven't scored 2+ goals in a game since February 24th.

Swansea have won their last two matches to nil. Luke Williams' outfit have been better at home, yet they have struggled on the road recently. They've scored just twice across their last four away trips and only one of their last eight matches overall have featured 3+ goals. This could be tight and cagey.

Betfair Bet:

Norwich vs Bristol City

Canaries to sneak past the Robins

Opta Stat:

"Norwich City are unbeaten across their 13 home league games (W11 D2), winning each of their last eight such matches in succession. It's the longest winning run at Carrow Road for the Canaries since a run of 11 victories between September 2009 and January 2010"

Norwich's home form has been outstanding this season and they are firmly entrenched within the top six. The Canaries picked up a rare away win last weekend as they edged past Preston and they will see this as an opportunity to re-affirm their play-off credentials. The hosts have conceded just five times in their last eight matches here and they've managed to keep clean sheets in three of their last four.

Bristol City have put together a superb unbeaten streak although they were left frustrated by last weekend's 1-1 draw with Huddersfield. That was just the third goal conceded in seven matches, although that performance was far from vintage and they could struggle at Carrow Road on Saturday.

Betfair Bet:

Cardiff vs Southampton

Adams to continue his purple patch

Opta Stat:

"Cardiff City have failed to win any of their five league games this season against sides who were relegated from the Premier League last term (D1 L4), losing both of their home matches without scoring during that sequence"

Southampton have given themselves a chance of gatecrashing the top two. With Leeds, Leicester and Ipswich all struggling for momentum, the Saints have snuck up on the rail and their emphatic midweek victory has put them within four points of the automatics. Russell Martin's men still have to face Leicester and Leeds and will be hoping to cause yet more disruption in the coming weeks. In the meantime, they must keep their concentration and ensure that they don't slip up against a very unpredictable Cardiff outfit.

Che Adams has been a little inconsistent this season, yet he's ending the season strongly. The Leicester-born frontman netted twice in midweek and has notched in four of his last five. He is likely to continue his recent form and help put further pressure on those teams directly above.

Betfair Bet:

Rotherham vs Birmingham

Low margin affair at the NYS

Opta Stat:

"Rotherham United have won just two of their last 15 home league games (D5 L8), though none of those matches have seen the Millers or their opposition score more than two goals in the same match"

Rotherham sacked Leam Richardson this week and replaced him with former boss Steve Evans. Although the new boss has just a couple of weeks to manage in the Championship, he is likely to stamp his authority all over the home side. Evans may be a divisive figure, yet his teams are notoriously tough to beat and they are always up for the battle. Rotherham have endured a terrible campaign, yet they haven't been beaten heavily in any of their home games this season.

Birmingham desperately require points in order to stay above the dotted line. Gary Rowett's men were emphatic winners last weekend and they need to take that momentum into this contest. The Blues will be well-organised and that is likely to lead to a cagey and not particularly watchable affair.

Betfair Bet:

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