EFL Championship

Championship Opta Stats: Nine of the best bets for Saturday's fixtures

Blackburn boss John Eustace
John Eustace's side need to pick up maximum points to secure survival

Using the latest batch of Opta Stats, Jack Critchley has selected the best bets for the penultimate weekend of Championship fixtures...

Blackburn v Coventry

Rovers to attack weary Sky Blues

Opta Stat:

"Coventry City have netted 34 away league goals in 2023-24 - they've only scored more away goals in three previous campaigns, scoring 35 in 1937-38, 36 in 1963-64 and 37 in 2012-13"

Blackburn have a three point cushion at the bottom but they cannot afford to rest on their laurels. They will be gunning for three points. A victory would pretty much secure safety for John Eustace's side and this may be a fortuitous fixture for the hosts. They have struggled for goals at Ewood Park and they haven't netted more than a single goal in a game here since February 10th. Nevertheless, they have the division's top goalscorer in Sammie Szmodics and briefly showed their goalscoring credentials in their 5-1 demolition of Sunderland at the beginning of the month.

Coventry looked tired on Wednesday night as they lost 3-2 at home to Hull. The Sky Blues were harshly knocked out of the FA Cup at the weekend, going all the way to extra time and their hectic schedule appears to be catching up with them. It's been eight games since Mark Robins' side last kept a clean sheet and, although they have plenty of talent in the final third, they are struggling at the other end of the field.

Betfair Bet:

Millwall v Plymouth

Another tight game at the Den

Opta Stat:

"Millwall are unbeaten across their last six league games against Plymouth Argyle (W2 D4), keeping four clean sheets across the prior five of those matches"

Millwall have secured safety with Neil Harris guiding the Lions to 53 points. But they could still have a major say in the relegation battle. The hosts don't need to win this game, yet they have been excellent at home recently and Harris will be keen for this side to end on a high. There have been just 33 shots taken across the last three matches at the Den with the visitors taking just 18 efforts on goal. Although this doesn't sound particularly remarkable, the fact they've heavily restricted leaders Leicester and play-off mainstays West Brom is highly impressive.

Plymouth came back down to earth with a bump last weekend as they were heavily defeated by Stoke. The Pilgrims barely laid a glove on the hosts in a worrying performance from the Devon outfit. They're going to need to have more than four shots if they are to take anything from this one.

Betfair Bet:

Norwich v Swansea

Highly entertaining clash at Carrow Road

Opta Stat:

"Since the turn of the year, only Leeds United (45) have won more Championship points than Norwich City (38). They are also one of two teams unbeaten at home in 2024 (W8 D2), along with East Anglian neighbours Ipswich Town"

Norwich's play-off hopes remain firmly in their own hands. Hull are the only side who can mathematically break into the top six, although a victory for the Canaries this weekend would guarantee a season extension for David Wagner's outfit. They looked a little tired against Bristol City last weekend, yet they should have enough in the tank to find the back of the net here. They have scored in every home game in 2024 and are averging 1.86 goals per game this season. Wagner's men have plenty of talent going forward and, despite Swansea's recent improvements at the back, should be able to register at least once.

Swansea's recent performances have been eye-catching. Luke William's side are thriving now that the pressure is off and that bodes well ahead of next season. The Swans have been creating chances and getting plenty of shots off. They could play their part in an entertaining 90 minutes.

Betfair Bet:

Cardiff v Middlesbrough

Latte to have the last Lath

Opta Stat:

"Middlesbrough's Emmanuel Latte-Lath has had a hand in 10 goals in his last 10 Championship appearances (9 goals, 1 assist), netting in each of his last four games (six goals). The Ivorian forward could become just the third African player to score in five consecutive Championship appearances, along with Sambegou Bangoura for Stoke in 2005 (six in a row) and Lucas João for Reading in 2020 (five)"

Middlesbrough have been ending the season in positive fashion and were unlucky against Leeds. Michael Carrick was criticised for his attacking tactics on Monday night and if he takes a similar approach here, this could turn into a highly watchable contest. The hosts have been one of the more unpredictable sides in the division, although they have kept just a single clean sheet in their last six home matches. If the visitors are to strike, Emmanuel Latte-Lath is likely to be heavily involved. Nine of his 16 goals have come since the beginning of March and he looks likely to add to that tally.

Betfair Bet:

Southampton v Stoke

Another high-scoring affair at St. Mary's

Opta Stat:

"Southampton have scored 54 Championship goals at St Mary's Stadium this season, their most at home in a league campaign since scoring 69 goals in the 1963-64 season"

Southampton's push for automatic promotion fell away last weekend and they received a crushing blow in midweek as they lost 5-0 at the King Power. The Saints need to pick themselves up ahead of this clash, although they'll be pleased to get back to home comforts. There have been 19 goals across their last five matches here and Russell Martin's team are freescoring in front of their own fans.

Stoke aren't quite safe yet, but Steven Schumacher's side have put themselves in the driving seat and a point would be an excellent result here. They are scoring again and, although their away form is dodgy, they should be able to find the back of the net here.

Betfair Bet:

Huddersfield v Birmingham

Edgy affair in West Yorkshire

Opta Stat:

"Only Rotherham United (4) have won fewer away Championship points this season than Birmingham City (13). With 15 away defeats, it's their most in a league season since 2017-18 (16)"

Huddersfield have a decent record when hosting bottom half opposition this season. Swansea are the only side below 12th to have left here with maximum points and they desperately need to take all three from this crucial clash. Andre Breitenreiter has made them a little more enterprising, yet they still lack goalscoring prowess and last weekend's collapse was a significant concern. With the exception of the Swansea match, they have been competitive in the majority of home games recently and they will fancy their chances of taking something from this.

Birmingham need to collect maximum points from this encounter. They are two points above today's opponents, yet they cannot afford to lose ground on Sheffield Wednesday. Fans were left frustrated by the Blues' inability to find a way past Rotherham last weekend and they have netted just four goals across their last eight away matches. This will be tight and tense.

Betfair Bet:

Sheffield Wednesday v West Brom

Owls to swoop for at least a point

Opta Stat:

"West Brom have lost their last two league matches, having gone 10 unbeaten beforehand. The Baggies haven't lost three in a row since October 2022, the last defeat of which was Carlos Corberan's first game in charge. The Spaniard hasn't lost three Championship games in a row since January 2021 when he was Huddersfield Town boss"

Sheffield Wednesdsay gave themselves a huge lifeline on Sunday as they beat Blackburn at Ewood Park. Danny Rohl got his tactics spot-on and he should be praised for spotting Rovers' weakness in defence. The hosts have been exceptional at Hillsborough lately with just a single defeat (vs Leeds) since mid-January. Although they've tended to struggle against top half teams, they have taken points off Norwich, Watford and Hull and will fancy their chances of repeating that trick on Saturday afternoon.

West Brom games are always tight and Corberan will undoubtedly have his side well-drilled. They aren't as effective on the road and have won just twice since mid-December (vs Huddersfield and Plymouth). Their play-off place is assured and they won't mind settling for a point.

Betfair Bet:

Bristol City v Rotherham

End of season grind at Ashton Gate

Opta Stat:

"Rotherham United have won just one of their last five away league games against Bristol City (D1 L3), failing to score in two of those visits to Ashton Gate"

Bristol City are ending the season strongly and they are becoming increasingly tough to beat. Very few sides have found a way past Max O'Leary in recent weeks and they have conceded just once across their last four outings here. They were impressive on the road against Norwich last weekend and they will fancy their chances of extending their unbeaten sequence.

Rotherham appointed Steve Evans and, although he wasn't able to have an immediate impact, his side looked far better organised. The Millers still struggle for goals, although you can guarantee that they will be highly competitive here. Another tight match is likely.

Betfair Bet:

Watford v Sunderland

Yet more home discomfort for the Hornets

Opta Stat:

"Three of Watford's last four league games have ended goalless and the Hornets have more goalless draws than any other team in the Championship this season (6). If they draw this game goalless, April 2024 will be the first month the Hornets have had four 0-0 draws since March 1973"

Watford appointed Tom Cleverley on a permanant basis this week following a relatively productive caretaker spell. The inexperienced coach will already be looking ahead to next season and there is likely to be a fair amount of squad churn, especially considering that the parachute payments have now ceased. Watford are struggling at home with the fans last witnessing a home victory on November 28th. They've failed to score in each of their last two here, although they've looked defensively secure.

Sunderland are ending the season strongly and have shown vast improvement at the back. They have conceded just once across their last four and aren't giving away much. The Black Cats will look to take advantage of the hosts' home woes. This could have an end-of-season feel about it and the visitors may be able to sneak home with all three points.

Betfair Bet:

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