Midweek Championship Tips: Hornets to win away again

Watford boss Xisco Munoz
Xisco Munoz will be hoping that his side can continue their excellent run of form on Tuesday night

Championship expert Jack Critchley believes in-form Watford can secure their fourth consecutive victory at the New York Stadium on Tuesday night...

"Rotherham have failed to score in each of their last two matches at this stadium, and they could find it difficult to break down Watford's stubborn back-line. The visitors xGA is one of the best in the division and they've conceded just two goals in their last four games"

Millers' home struggles to continue against Watford

Rotherham 54/1 v Watford 1.855/6; The Draw 3.7511/4
Tuesday, 19:00

A second outbreak of COVID-19 has prevented Rotherham from completing their last three fixtures, and although they now have several games in hand on their rivals, it has left the Millers three points from safety.

Despite their precarious position, the hosts will come into this contest with plenty of confidence, having dispatched their local rivals Sheffield Wednesday at the beginning of the month. Prior to that unexpected success, Paul Warne had presided over five consecutive defeats, and they will be desperate to secure back-to-back Championship victories for just the second time this season.

Freddie Ladapo's thunderous strike gave the Millers bragging rights in South Yorkshire and the he'll be hoping that his Hillsborough heroics have done enough to earn him a place in the starting XI. Warne has rotated his strikers throughout the campaign with both Michael Smith and Ladapo able to offer something different. With Smith's dismissal having been overturned by the FA, both players are available for this match.

Rotherham have failed to score in each of their last two matches at this stadium, and they could find it difficult to break down Watford's stubborn back-line. The visitors xGA is one of the best in the division and they've conceded just two goals in their last four games. They fell behind against Cardiff at the weekend but hit back within a couple of minutes, and they have been much improved on their travels since the arrival of Xisco Munoz.

Watford won just one of their opening eight away games this season but they've picked up maximum points in three of their last four, and promotion rivals Bournemouth are the only side to get the better of them on the road since the beginning of January.

Although Saturday's last-gasp success was far from a vintage performance, Xisco has enough strength-in-depth to freshen things up here, although he'll be keen to maintain the spine of the team. Nathaniel Chalobah and Will Hughes were excellent throughout, whereas Adam Masina caused problems for the Cardiff full-backs all afternoon. The own goal notwithstanding, Francisco Sierralta was also impressive, and he's formed a superb partnership with William Troost-Ekong.

The hosts will be fresh and ready to go but they don't appear to have enough quality to outwit superbly well-organised opponents who have been giving very little away recently. The away side can be backed 1.855/6 on the Exchange and should be able to clock up their fourth consecutive success.

In-form Boro to edge out inconsistent Lilywhites

Middlesbrough 21/1 v Preston 4.57/2; The Draw 3.55/2
Tuesday, 19:00

Middlesbrough survived a second-half onslaught from Stoke at the weekend to run out 3-0 winners at the Riverside Stadium. Neil Warnock has urged his side to maintain their consistency and, with their play-off hopes still alive, they'll fancy their chances of success on Tuesday evening.

The Teessiders were outshot 16-9 and had their woodwork rattled in the second-half, but Nathaniel Mendez-Laing's breakaway goal helped to secure a notable victory which leaves them just eight points shy of the top six with 10 games to play.

Although they've won just two of their last five Championship matches, Boro have been putting in some terrific performances, with their 1-1 draw against in-form Cardiff just one of a number of much-improved displays. The well-documented defeat to Swansea was undeserved, and they should take plenty of confidence from Saturday's convincing victory.

Paddy McNair was the star of the show at the weekend, although goalscorer Grant Hall and Dael Fry cannot be faulted for their wholehearted displays. Even Chuba Akpom, who had previously been criticised for his anonymous performances and wayward finishing, put in a decent shift alongside January arrivals Yannick Bolasie and Neeskens Kebano.

With the likes of Britt Assombalonga, Marvin Johnson, George Saville and the aforementioned Mendez-Laing all left on the bench on Saturday afternoon, Warnock has plenty of options at his disposal and he may opt to freshen things up here.

Preston's form continues to be a mystery and Saturday's 1-0 defeat to almost-relegated Wycombe was hugely disappointing. PNE's xGA numbers have been underwhelming recently and they are conceding far too many chances. They've won just one of their last seven matches, and have failed to find the back of the net in three of those.

Greg Cunningham missed the game at the weekend and the full-back may also be unavailable for this tie. Andrew Hughes was disappointing against the Chairboys whereas January arrival Ben Whiteman may need a little longer to acclimatise to the rigours of the Championship. PNE have plenty of options going forward. However, registering just a single shot on target against the division's bottom club is unacceptable.

Alex Neil has a very good record against Neil Warnock sides but the Scot doesn't have long to work with his players on the training ground ahead of this fixture. His side aren't quite clicking at the moment, and they could struggle against a team who still harbour play-off ambitions.

Middlesbrough are priced at 2.01/1 on the Exchange and look worth backing to clinch a second successive home win.

Derby to frustrate Brentford at Pride Park

Derby 4.216/5 v Brentford 2.0421/20; The Draw 3.45
Tuesday, 19:00

Derby sit 19th in the Championship table and they are still nervously glancing over their shoulders. They have a seven point cushion on the bottom three, although Rotherham have four games in hand, and the Rams cannot afford to drop many more points over the coming weeks. The Rams problems in front of goal continued at the weekend as Millwall left with all three points.

Derby have scored an average of 0.69 goals per game this season, and although they've only conceded a creditable 1.08 goals per game, they cannot rely on keeping clean sheets to help edge them into mid-table. They have failed to register in each of their last four matches and have notched 2+ goals on just five occasions this term.

Lee Gregory may return for this midweek fixture but they aren't creating enough in the final third. An xG of 1.11 across the entire campaign has remained remarkably consistent, however, only rock-bottom Wycombe have netted fewer times than the shot-shy Rams.

Brentford edged past Blackburn on Friday evening and made it three wins in four to reignite their hopes of automatic promotion. The Bees currently sit just three points off second spot and have a game in hand on Watford.

Ivan Toney was the Bees' hero on Friday once again, and although they still don't appear to be firing on all cylinders, they have plenty of dangermen in their squad. Vitaly Janelt has stepped up superbly, whereas Tarique Fosu is a constant nuisance. At the back, the partnership of January arrival Winston Reid and Ethan Pinnock is flourishing and they've conceded just two goals in their last four outings.

The West London side are unpredictable on the road and therefore look a little short in the betting. However, there is unlikely to be much between these two teams. Derby's defence has been solid enough and should be able to frustrate the visitors for large swathes of this game. However, their profligacy in front of goal shows no signs of abating and it might be worth backing 'No' in BTTS at 1.910/11 on the Exchange. This would have landed in five of Brentford's last seven matches, and in five of Derby's last six.

You can follow Jack Critchley on Twitter @jcritch7

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