Newly-promoted Coventry take on recently-relegated Bournemouth from St Andrew's. Mark O'Haire analyses their Friday night encounter...
"The second-tier has been surprisingly low-scoring over the opening three weekends – only 25% of the 36 matches have produced Over 2.5 Goals and only 28% have delivered in the BTTS column"
Coventry v Bournemouth
Friday October 2, 19:45
Coventry held at Oakwell
Coventry earned a valuable Championship point at Barnsley last weekend in a game where clear cut chances were few and far between. The Sky Blues played out a goalless draw at Oakwell with towering centre-half Leo Ostigard going closest to breaking the deadlock when his powerful header bounced off the underside of the crossbar in the opening 45 minutes.
Despite failing to land an on-target attempt across the contest, City boss Mark Robins felt his players let the Tykes "off the hook" during their best spell of the showdown before the interval. The Coventry supremo said, "I don't think we played brilliantly, I thought we created chances in the first half and were really unlucky and let them off the hook".
The Sky Blues continued in their preferred 3-4-2-1 with skipper Liam Kelly again unavailable following a slight hamstring tear. Robins is hopeful the club captain will be back in action on Friday night, whilst Ben Sheaf could keep his place alongside Gustavo Hamer in the centre of midfield. Sam McCallum is pushing for a start after returning on-loan from Norwich.
Bournemouth extend unbeaten start
Bournemouth extended their unbeaten start to the Championship season with victory over Norwich on Sunday. Arnaut Danjuma scored the only goal of the game at the Vitality Stadium with a brilliant piece of skill and finish to break the deadlock, the Dutch winger lashing into the bottom corner from just outside the box 10 minutes before the interval.
The Cherries could have doubled their tally when Dominic Solanke headed over, while at the other end the Jason Tindall's troops stood firm to secure a first clean sheet in the league since the top-flight goalless draw with Tottenham back in July. Norwich were mainly restricted to long-range efforts, an aspect that particularly pleased the new man in charge.
Tindall said, "It's a really good win. I felt we were really resilient today, when we had to be. When we had to defend our box I felt we did that extremely well." Mark Travers, Lloyd Kelly and David Brooks were absent through injury and illness respectively and are considered doubts for Friday. Elsewhere, Joshua King made the bench for the first time this season.
Sky Blues solid at St Andrew's
Coventry and Bournemouth are locking horns for the first time since the two teams were in League One back in 2012/13. The Cherries may have secured automatic promotion that season but the Sky Blues completed the league double over their opponents, extending a four-game winning head-to-head streak over the south coast club that dates back to 1964.
Coventry 3.65 have made a solid start to life back in the second-tier (W1-D1-L1) and Mark Robins' men earned top honours in their only appearance at their adopted St Andrew's home this term. The Sky Blues suffered only three defeats in 34 fixtures before League One's suspension in 2019/20, boasting a W11-D5-L1 as hosts, highlighting City's capability.
Bournemouth 6/52.22 have been pleased with their seven-point haul (W2-D1-L0) since relegation with Jason Tindall emphasising the importance of a good start this season. Even so, the Cherries haven't completely convinced just yet, earning just a +0.40 Expected Goals (xG) difference from their opening encounters, averaging just 0.93 xG per-game thus far.
The two teams have each delivered Both Teams To Score (1.87) winners in two of their first three Championship contests in 2020/21 with Bournemouth notching in all three fixtures, and Coventry firing a solitary blank last time out at Barnsley. However, it is worth noting that three of the Cherries' five goals have come from strikes outside of the penalty box.
The second-tier has been surprisingly low-scoring over the opening three weekends - only 25% of the 36 matches have produced Over 2.5 Goals and only 28% have delivered in the BTTS column with contests averaging a paltry 1.94 goals per-game. With that in mind, I'm happy to go again oppose goals on Friday night with Both Teams To Score 'No' (1.90).
Mark's 2020/21 Profit/Loss
Staked: 9.00 pts
Returned: 10.10 pts
P/L: +1.10 pts