Seasiders to struggle in Dorset
Bournemouth 1.664/6 v Blackpool 5.95/1; The Draw 3.8514/5
Bournemouth battled their way past Birmingham in midweek with Dominic Solanke and the impressive Jaidon Anthony making the difference in the second half. Brum provided stern resistance, and were arguably the better side before the break, however, Scott Parker's men eventually found a way to turn the tide and deservedly left B9 with all three points. The Dorset outfit have scored exactly two goals in each of their opening three fixtures and they will fancy their chances of exploiting a leaky Blackpool back-line. The Seasiders were beaten 1-0 by Coventry in midweek and will be desperate to collect their first win of the season here. However, their defence appears to be extremely shaky with the ageing Richard Keogh and left-back-by-trade James Husband struggling to keep the opposition off the score-sheet. This will be their toughest test of the campaign so far, and unless Neil Critchley opts to make changes at the back, it could be a long afternoon for the travelling Tangerine Army. The hosts at 4/5 on the Sportsbook to net 2+ goals in this one, and given their goalscoring record so far, they are likely to take their chances.
Recommended Bet: Back 2+ Bournemouth goals @ 1.804/5
Pressure to increase on Hughton
Stoke 1.9720/21 v Nottingham Forest 4.3100/30; The Draw 3.45
Stoke have made an excellent start to the 2021-22 campaign and confidence is understandably high coming into this clash. The Staffordshire outfit are yet to be defeated and they have only conceded once since their topsy-turvy victory over Reading a fortnight ago. Michael O'Neill's side have become far more assured in the final third and they've also been producing some impressive xG numbers (1.9 vs Swansea and 2.3 vs Reading). Leo Ostigard has been a superb signing whereas Nick Powell and Sam Surridge have both looked sharp. Nottingham Forest have now lost their opening three matches for the second consecutive season and the pressure is beginning to mount on Chris Hughton. The former Brighton boss hasn't been helped by the lack of movement in the transfer market this summer, however, his seemingly negative tactics and insistence on playing two defensive midfielders when chasing the game hasn't gone down particularly well with supporters. Forest look bereft of confidence and the sizeable travelling contigent are likely to express their discontent throughout this contest.
Recommended Bet: Back Stoke to beat Nottingham Forest @ 1.9720/21
High-scoring 90 minutes at Ewood Park
Blackburn 3.45 v West Brom 2.3211/8; The Draw 3.259/4
Despite a sizeable amount of pre-season negativity, Blackburn have made a solid start to the campaign and the majority of the fans' relegation fears have been assauged by some encouraging early-season displays. With a number of incomings expected over the next few weeks, Tony Mowbray's side should be comfortably mid-table this season. They have an extremely young squad, and there has been a number of standout performances with both Hayden Carter and Harry Pickering catching the eye at the City Ground on Wednesday evening. Blackburn have netted in each of their opening three matches and seven of their nine efforts landed on target against Nottingham Forest. West Brom showed their class against Sheffield United in midweek and Valerien Ismael is clearly getting a tune out of the Baggies' forward line this season. Having produced an xG of 1.8 against Luton and 2.38 against Sheffield United, they certainly appear to be firing on all cylinders. Despite this, they've still conceded four times so far this campaign and with a number of defenders yet to regain full fitness, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the hosts notch in this fixture.
Recommended Bet: Back Over 2.5 Goals in Blackburn vs West Brom @ 2.26/5
Aerial dominance in South Wales
Cardiff 2.447/5 v Millwall 3.55/2; The Draw 3.185/40
All five of Cardiff's goals so far have been headed efforts and although there is nothing wrong with this approach, they may have to take a different route to goal against a lofty and obstinate Millwall defence. Mick McCarthy's men found themselves 2-0 down in midweek, however, an Aden Flint double secured them a hard-earned point in Cambridgeshire. The goalscoring defender had also rattled the woodwork at Bloomfield just three days earlier, and both Jake Cooper and Dan Ballard will be tasked with keeping their eye on the former Bristol City man. Cardiff have produced decent xG numbers so far, whereas Millwall have been slightly more conservative in their attacking play. Gary Rowett's side have struggled to create chances so far, although striker Benik Afobe has looked sharp and was rewarded with his first Championship goals in almost two years. Both sides will be tough to break down and although Cardiff possess more of a goal threat, a stalemate looks on the cards.
Recommended Bet: Back Draw in Cardiff vs Millwall @ 3.185/40
Entertaining afternoon in at the Coventry Arena
Coventry 2.26/5 v Reading 3.65; The Draw 3.45
Coventry put a frustrating trip to Barnsley firmly behind them in midweek as they edged past Blackpool at Bloomfield Road. The Sky Blues were the better side throughout the 90 minutes, although they missed several chances to extend their lead. Ben Sheaf was excellent in the centre of the park, whilst Callum O'Hare buzzed around efficiently. With strikers Matt Godden and Tyler Walker yet to return, the future looks bright for Mark Robins' men and they will fancy their chances of making it two from two in front of their own fans. The hosts' numbers have been very impressive so far and they are likely to create chances against a questionable Reading defence. The Royals have lost two of their opening three matches by the same score-line (3-2) and its easy to see where the problems lie for Vejlko Paunovic's side. They're extremely entertaining to watch and have a number of damgerous players including youngster Femi Azeez and the irrepressable John Swift, however, clean sheets are seemingly hard to come by. This could be another topsy-turvy affair.
Recommended Bet: Back BTTS in Coventry vs Reading @ 1.9310/11
Derby to succumb to streetwise Boro
Derby 2.982/1 v Middlesbrough 2.77/4; The Draw 3.211/5
Despite losing 3-2 to QPR in midweek, Middlesbrough dominated the contest and finished the game with an xG of 2.29. They registered 14 shots throughout the 90 minutes, however, uncharacteristic lapses in concentration and the unpredictability of Chris Willock silenced the Riverside Stadium. Neil Warnock is unlikely to be too concerned about the defeat and he'll have his side ready for this weekend's trip to Pride Park. Uche Ikpeazu and Matt Crooks have given the Teessiders a much-needed injection of life and the summer signings have both been excellent so far this campaign, alongside youngster Isiah Jones. Derby picked up their first victory of the season against Hull in midweek with new signing Sam Baldock giving Rams fans something to celebrate. Kamil Jozwiak was impressive, whereas both Lee Buchanan and Max Bird also caught the eye. Derby aren't likely to be swatted aside easily this season, however, their small and inexperienced squad may be stretched by this quick turnaround and as a result, they could just fall short.
Recommended Bet: Back Middlesbrough to beat Derby @ 2.77/4
Cottagers too classy for the Tame Tigers
Fulham 1.528/15 v Hull 7.613/2; The Draw 4.47/2
Fulham have caught the eye this season and their powerful performances have seen them register eight times in their opening three fixtures. During their last Championship campaign, there was an over-reliance on Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, however, this time around, there are a number of players who are capable of chipping in. Youngster Fabio Carvalho has stepped up, whilst the likes of Jean Micheal-Serri and Andre Zambo Anguissa look far too good for this level. Bobby Decordova-Reid and Ivan Cavaleiro have also impressed so far. Marco Silva will need to keep his talented squad happy throughout the course of the season, however, they have a number of matchwinners in the side and an instant return to the Premier League appears to be a formality. Hull got off to the best possible start, however, they've subsequently slumped to consecutive defeats and have drawn back-to-back blanks. Grant McCann must find a way of unlocking his side's creativity, and the return of Malik Wilks and George Honeyman cannot come soon enough for the Humberside outfit. The hosts should stroll to a victory here and they could easily rack up the goals in the process.
Recommended Bet: Back 3+ Fulham goals @ 3.211/5
Hatters to edge out the Blues at Kenilworth Road
Luton 2.226/5 v Birmingham 3.711/4; The Draw 3.39/4
Both of these sides will be tough to beat this season, and this contest may not be one for the purists. Luton were very impressive in their 1-0 victory over Barnsley in midweek. Despite a number of injuries, Nathan Jones' side still managed to find a way to beat the Tykes and they will be confident of recording consecutive victories here. Amari Bell was the unlikely hero on Tuesday night although James Bree and Peter Kioso also deserve plenty of credit for their performances. Although the Hatters may lack firepower, they are able to expertly close out games, and may only need one or two openings in order to produce a match-winning moment. Birmingham battled valiantly against Bournemouth on Wednesday evening and Lee Bowyer's men were marginally the better side during the first half. However, the Blues lack cutting edge and fans will be hoping to see more from Lukas Jutkiewicz over the coming weeks. Their only goal so far has come from Maxime Colin, a full-back, and they simply must find a way to get their strikers firing. As a result, the hosts could edge this.
Recommended Bet: Back Luton to beat Birmingham @ 2.226/5
Posh to leave Deepdale with something to show for their efforts
Preston 2.35/4 v Peterborough 3.65; The Draw 3.45
It's been a horrible start to the campaign for Preston and their boss Frankie McAvoy. The inexperienced gaffer enjoyed a fruitful end to the 2020-21 campaign, however, his side have looked woefully short so far this year, and their midweek loss to struggling Huddersfield has done very little to alter the discourse. Fans aren't happy with the lack of investment this summer, particularly in attacking areas, and although their lack of cutting edge is an obvious concern, they've also become untrustworthy at the back. Peterborough are showing some signs of life and Posh will come into this game with plenty of belief. Siriki Dembele has quickly acclimatised to Championship football whereas local lad Harrison Burrows has been a revelation. Posh will be frustrated at letting a two-goal lead slip in midweek, however, they've been effective in the final third, and will find plenty of gaps in the PNE defence.
Recommended Bet: Back Peterborough Draw No Bet @ 2.47/5
Dour affair at Bramall Lane
Sheffield United 1.674/6 v Huddersfield 6.25/1; The Draw 43/1
Positivity is in short supply when it comes to these two sides and despite being chalked up at an odds-on price, it's hard to trust Sheffield United. The Blades have looked bereft of confidence and woefully short of quality in the final third. Slavisa Jokanovic wasn't happy with his side's defending on Wednesday evening and although they should find this significantly easier, they cannot be backed with any convinction. Against a transitioning Swansea side, they produced an xG of just 0.9 and fans will want to see much more in the final third. Huddersfield have hardly been convincing so far, however, they are off the mark and they will be buoyed by their 1-0 success against Preston. These two sides could easily share the spoils, however backing Under 2.5 Goals at 1.865/6 looks a far better option.
Recommended Bet: Back Under 2.5 Goals in Sheffield United vs Huddersfield @ 1.865/6
You can follow Jack Critchley on Twitter @jcritch7