Newly-promoted Coventry and regional rivals Birmingham lock horns at St Andrew's. Mark O'Haire analyses the odds.
"Coventry have been one the division’s more entertaining teams with matches averaging 3.18 goals per-game"
Coventry v Birmingham
Friday November 20, 19:45
Coventry made to rue defensive mistakes
Not for the first time since taking League One title honours, Coventry pressed the self-destruct button as they were denied a deserved share of the spoils at fallen Premier League side Watford before the international break. The Sky Blues fell behind in the second-half but goals from Gus Hamer and Tyler Walker turned the tables in City's favour at Vicarage Road.
That advantage, however, only lasted two minutes before Watford were back on level terms and Coventry then conceded yet another penalty late on to hand the home side a 3-2 victory. The impressive display in defeat came hot on the heels of an agonising last-minute loss at Nottingham Forest with head coach Mark Robins admitting "it's been a harsh week".
Post-match Robins said: "We concede too many goals and we are soft. We've conceded two penalties to lose two games and we should never have been in a position to give them away. It really hurts." Nevertheless, the break has allowed many of the Sky Blues' squad to return to full fitness with Fankaty Dabo and Matt Godden both expected to return here.
Birmingham suffer back-to-back losses
Birmingham entered the international break on the back of successive home defeats, the latest of which was a comfortable 3-1 loss at the hands of the Bournemouth. Blues were second-best for large swathes of the contest with Scott Hogan's first goal in 16 games the only high point for Aitor Karanka's men who were 3-0 down when the consolation arrived.
Blues goalkeeper Neil Etheridge was by far the busiest with Bournemouth attempting 21 efforts at goal and landing seven strikes on-target. Indeed, the margin of victory could and should have been wider were it not for Etheridge's interventions but Karanka refused to criticise his side, instead highlighting the positive attitude from his players despite defeat.
Birmingham have defender Jake Clarke-Salter back available for Friday night's fixture but George Friend and Josh McEachran remain doubts, whilst Kristian Pedersen is also unlikely to be fit in time, whereas Adam Clayton is a longer-term absentee. Meanwhile, defensive midfielder Ivan Sunjic is has served his one-game suspension and will slot back into the XI.
Coventry and Birmingham are meeting in league action for the first time since 2012 but the duo did play out a pair of draws in last season's FA Cup fourth round. Matches between the two have often been tight affairs and just two head-to-heads over the past 40 years have been settled by a margin of two goals or more. The teams also share St Andrew's stadium.
Coventry 3.002/1 have suffered seven defeats in 11 outings since returning to the second-tier, although the Sky Blues have endured a tough schedule with nine of those opponents currently residing in the top-half of the Championship table. The team's two triumphs this term have both been achieved at St Andrew's, as have eight of the 12 goals scored by City.
Back-to-back defeats have stalled Birmingham's 2.747/4 improving campaign. Aitor Karanka's functional outfit posted W3-D4-L2 to sit inside the top-half at the start of November but Blues' have since slipped back into bottom-half obscurity; the side's reliance on set-pieces and a lack of open play goal threat have caused particular angst amongst Blues supporters.
The Championship has yet to catch fire in terms of goals with the second-tier averaging a paltry 2.17 per-game. Even so, Coventry have been one the division's more entertaining teams with matches averaging 3.18 goals per-game, 7/11 1.855/6 delivering Both Teams To Score profit, whilst also posting the highest Expected Goals (xG) from open play figures.
Unfortunately, the same can't be said of Birmingham. Only three clubs are seeing fewer goals per-game than Blues with 7/11 (64%) encounters featuring Under 2.5 Goals 1.654/6. Nevertheless, 6/11 (55%) of those games have also provided BTTS pay-outs and with the pair accumulating just two collective shutouts since MD2 a repeat appeals at the prices.
Mark's 2020/21 Profit/Loss
Staked: 35.00 pts
Returned: 42.28 pts
P/L: +7.28 pts