Saturday Championship 3pm Kick-Offs: Keep the faith with in-form Rams

Mike is staying faithful to Derby and backing them to beat Brentford on Saturday
Mike is staying faithful to Derby and backing them to beat Brentford on Saturday
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It's an exciting day in the Championship with some excellent fixtures affecting teams at both ends of the table, and here with his regular trio of recommended bets is our man Mike Norman...

"And it's that word 'improving' that is key as Derby seem to be getting better as the season goes on, growing in confidence, and really starting to believe that they can gain automatic promotion."

Back Derby @ [2.26] to beat Brentford

Derby [2.26] v Brentford [3.45]; The Draw [3.6]

There are some excellent games in the Championship on Saturday afternoon, perhaps the pick of them being in-form Derby against a very entertaining Brentford side.

With home advantage however, the Rams have to be the selection at an odds-against price.

Gary Rowett's men are on a 10-game unbeaten run in the Championship, a streak of form that has seen the Rams climb to second in the table. But perhaps even more eye-catching has been the tremendous defensive displays by Derby, who have conceded just three goals in their last 13 league games, keeping an incredible 10 clean sheets in the process.

The Rams have faced some decent teams in that sequence too; the likes of Aston Villa, Fulham, Middlesbrough, Sheffield United, and Bristol City have all been frustrated to a certain extent by Rowett's improving side.

And it's that word 'improving' that is key as Derby seem to be getting better as the season goes on, growing in confidence, and really starting to believe that they can gain automatic promotion.

Brentford perhaps left themselves with too much to do by failing to win any of their first eight league games this season; if we were to ignore those games and produce a league table from just the last 20 or so matches played then Brentford would comfortably be in the top six.

Dean Smith's men have lost three of their last five in all competitions however, so their form is starting to level out again. Sitting 11th in the table they still have an outside chance of reaching the play-offs, but they concede too many goals for my liking - they've conceded more goals than any club in the top 11 in fact.

For that reason I can see the home side scoring a few in this game, and given their current defensive record you'd have to feel that if Derby do get on the scoresheet more than one then that ought to be enough to take all three points.

Recommended Bet
Back Derby @ [2.26] to beat Brentford (best bet)

Leeds [3.0] v Cardiff [2.7]; The Draw [3.3]

The last time Leeds played at Elland Road - a fortnight ago against Millwall - I wagered on a penalty to be taken, reluctantly neglecting the Over 45 Bookings Points bet.

The game had everything... seven goals, five yellow cards, a sending off, staff sent to the stands... well everything apart from a penalty. That's how betting goes sometimes; I knew it would be a feisty affair but I simply went for the bigger price selection of the two that I had on my mind.

Saturday's game should be quite tenacious too, between a couple of big clubs with passionate crowds, both needing the win for different reasons.

Leeds need to end their slump; it's six games without a win now and they've dropped to 10th in the table, while Cardiff need the victory to keep in touch with the second automatic promotion place. So there won't be a lack of desire in this game, and the bet that I like most is the Over 2.5 Goals option.

Like most of my bets it's mainly price-based, because I fully expected to see it trading at odds-on, instead it's the Under 2.5 Goals option that is trading at [1.78], while 'overs' can be backed at [2.2]. That will do for me.

I really like games from a goals perspective when a lot is at stake and that the two clubs in question probably don't like each other much. The last time we witnessed such a game involving Leeds was against Millwall, and that ended 3-4! We just need three goals this time.

Recommended Bet
Back Over 2.5 Goals @ [2.2] in Leeds v Cardiff

Norwich [2.9] v Middlesbrough [2.8]; The Draw [3.3]

Not since Middlesbrough drew 2-2 with Brentford way back in September has a game featuring the North East outfit finished with both teams getting on the scoresheet. At the Riverside Stadium that is!

The Boro are playing away here but I believe the stat above is very relevant as it helps us understand why they are a completely different side on the road to the one that plays in front of their own fans.

At the Riverside teams generally come with the mentality of avoiding defeat, they get men behind the ball and the onus in on Middlesbrough to make a breakthrough. And as we've seen quite regularly in recent seasons Boro can find it very hard to break teams down when they are on the front foot.

But away from home it's a completely different story. Middlesbrough are the team that generally soak up the pressure and try to hit teams on the break. And because they are quite efficient at counter attacking then their games are often wide open and full of goals.

Boro's last 10 away games have witnessed an average of 3.4 goals per match. Eight of those games resulted in both teams getting on the scoresheet, while nine of them paid out on Over 2.5 Goals. And the one that didn't finished 2-0.

Compare those stats to Boro at the Riverside Stadium where just one of their last 11 matches have witnessed at least three goals, and not a single one of them resulted in both teams scoring. You won't find a more 'chalk and cheese' outfit in the division when it comes to home and away scorelines.

So apologies for not mentioning Norwich to this point as this, for me, is purely a stats-based punt, taking into account Middlesbrough's away games. But it certainly helps when you glance at the Canaries' recent form at Carrow Road and notice that all of their last six league games in front of their own fans have seen both teams get on the scoresheet, while each of the last four all went over the 2.5 goals mark.

A price of [2.38] about Over 2.5 Goals landing in this fixture is well worth chancing.

Recommended Bet
Back Over 2.5 Goals @ [2.36] in Norwich v Middlesbrough


*You can follow me on Twitter - @MikkyMo73

Championship 2017/18 Season P/L

Staked: 88 pts
Returned: 75.88 pts
P/L: -12.12 pts

*based on 1pt each bet, 2pts best bet

- 2016/17 P/L = +7.56 pts from 163 pts stakes
- 2015/16 P/L = -3.46 pts from 156 pts staked
- 2014/15 P/L = +21.78 pts from 164 pts staked

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