It's another quick turnaround in the Championship and Jack Critchley has picked out some of Saturday afternoon's best bets from the second tier...
"The Terriers have won four of their last five matches and their only recent slip-up came against Stoke on September 11th. Matty Pearson's unfortunate own goal handed the Potters all three points on that occasion, however, the visitors were the better side throughout and out-shot their opponents 15-6 across the 90 minutes"
Terriers superb form to continue in West Yorkshire
Carlos Corberan described his team's 3-0 midweek victory as a 'serious performance' and heaped praise upon his side following their Tuesday night success by the seaside. The game was fairly balanced throughout the first half, however, the Terriers flew out of the blocks after the break and deservedly grabbed the opener. Although the score-line may have slightly flattered the West Yorkshire outfit, they deserved three points and there were a number of impressive performances. Tuesday's man of the match Jonathan Hogg was ruthless in the centre of the park, and he was complimented by the classy Lewis O'Brien. Corberan also credited his defence, and although Levi Colwill, Tom Lees and Matty Pearson do deserve credit for keeping a third clean sheet of the campaign, they were rarely troubled by their lethargic hosts.
The Terriers have won four of their last five matches and their only recent slip-up came against Stoke on September 11th. Matty Pearson's unfortunate own goal handed the Potters all three points on that occasion, however, the visitors were the better side throughout and out-shot their opponents 15-6 across the 90 minutes. Although they still lack a prolific striker, Huddersfield look sharp enough to extend their excellent run of form on Saturday afternoon.
Nottingham Forest announced the departure of Chris Hughton on Thursday morning following a limp 2-0 defeat to Middlesbrough at the City Ground. The Tricky Trees are yet to pick up maximum points this season and they look bereft of confidence, particularly in the final third. Although the blame cannot be entirely pinned upon the now-departed 62-year old, his negative approach to winnable home games certainly added to the general pessimism surrounding the two-time European champions. Although a change in the dugout could potential spark some improvement, this game is likely to come too soon and Forest could easily slip to their seventh defeat of the campaign at the John Smith's Stadium.
Recommended Bet: Back Huddersfield to beat Nottingham Forest @ 2.1411/10
Confident Rovers to edge out Tykes
Bradley Collins was Barnsley's hero on Wednesday evening with the former Chelsea man saving Mario Vrancic's penalty and producing five excellent stops to prevent Stoke from collecting all three points. The Potters, who went down to ten men in the second half, were the better side throughout and although the Tykes looked far sharper going forward, they were opened up far too easily by Michael O'Neill's men. The South Yorkshire side are struggling to create clear-cut chances and are averaging just 2.4 shots on target per game, fewer than all three of the newly promoted sides. Their home matches have been fairly mundane affairs so far and there have been just four goals across the last 270 minutes of football at Oakwell. Blackburn were rarely troubled by Hull on Tuesday night with goals from Daniel Ayala and Ben Brereton-Diaz handing Rovers all three points. It wasn't the Lancashire club's best performance of the season, however, they've won three of their opening seven encounters and have suffered just a single defeat so far. Collins is unlikely to pull off of a second consecutive goalkeeping masterclass, and that may hand this tie to the visitors.
Recommended Bet: Back Blackburn to beat Barnsley @ 2.727/4
Lacklustre Bluebirds to slip up again
Many Cardiff fans have been left disappointed by their side's underwhelming start to the campaign and Mick McCarthy must find a way of reinvigorating his side ahead of this weekend's clash with Bournemouth. The Welshmen have picked up three victories so far, however, two of those successes came against sides currently occupying the bottom three spots. On Wednesday night, they managed just a single effort on goal, and were second best in every department at the Coventry Building Society Arena. Although it isn't an easy place to visit this season, the travelling fans were left frustrated by their team's disjointed performance and they simply must improve ahead of the visit of the Cherries. Bournemouth were victorious in midweek, however, they didn't have it all their own way against QPR on Tuesday evening. Scott Parker's men hit the woodwork and looked threatening every time they came forward, however, they were outshot 15-10 by the West Londoners. With an additional 24 hours to recover and a far bigger squad, the visitors should be able to make it three consecutive Championship victories.
Recommended Bet: Back Bournemouth to beat Cardiff @ 2.526/4
Stoke to be frustrated by Derby's defence
Despite the lack of squad depth, Derby have made a competitive start to the 2021-22 Championship season, and although Wayne Rooney's side have ridden their luck at times, they can be relatively satisfied with a return of seven points from as many games. Scoring goals is the Rams' biggest issue, however, there is no lack of spirit and determination within the squad. Against high-flying West Brom on Tuesday night, they threw themselves at every effort and somehow managed to keep the Baggies off the scoresheet. They may have only found the net twice in their last five matches, however, they have also kept three clean sheets during that period. Survival is the main aim for the East Midlands outfit this season, and they aren't likely to change their approach for this clash with their near-neighbours. Stoke were left frustrated by Barnsley on Wednesday night and were unable to find a way past Bradley Collins. Having missed from 12 yards, rattled the woodwork and missed several presentable opportunities, the Potters may have to simply write it off as 'one of those nights'. Nevertheless, they are unlikely to find this much easier and they may have to settle for yet another point.
Recommended Bet: Back Draw in Derby vs Stoke @ 3.185/40
No shortage of entertainment at the Cottage
Fulham managed to put their disappointing weekend defeat firmly behind them on Wednesday night as they eased past Birmingham at St.Andrews. The Cottagers carved open the Brum back-line and they enjoyed plenty of success from wide areas. Despite the convincing look to the score-line, Birmingham were very impressive going forward, and the West London side had to dig deep at times. Marco Silva's men remain the highest scoring side in the division and they have netted 17 times in their opening seven encounters. At the other end of the field, they've been relatively solid and have been breached on just five occasions so far. Whilst Fulham's defence has had a relatively easy ride so far, the Reading back-line has been ripped to shreds and has looked extremely shaky throughout August and September. The Royals did manage to pick up their second win of the season in midweek, however they are conceding an average of 15.4 shots per game and that does not feel particularly sustainable. The Berkshire side have scored six times in their last three matches and are showing plenty of quality of the final third. This could be a hugely absorbing and high-scoring 90 minutes by the Thames.
Recommended Bet: Back Over 2.5 Goals in Fulham vs Reading @ 1.768/11
Hatters and Swans to share the points
Luton left it late to rescue a point at Ashton Gate on Wednesday night and the Hatters have developed a useful knack of doing their best work beyond the allotted 90 minutes. Seven of their nine goals have been scored in the second half, and their willingness to keep plugging away is testament to Nathan Jones' hard work on the training ground. Although they haven't picked up maximum points since August 17th, they are unbeaten in their last three and they won't make it easy for Swansea here. The Welsh side picked up their second successive goalless draw on Wednesday night and although they appear to making small, incremental steps, some fans have complained about their side's lack of penetration. Nevertheless, Russell Martin appears to be pleased with his side's progress, and they are likely to have plenty of the ball in this one. The former defender admits that his side are getting fitter with each passing week and the general consensus appears to be that they need start picking up maximum points sooner rather than later. However, this may come too soon and they may have to settle for a draw in this one.
Recommended Bet: Back Draw in Luton vs Swansea @ 3.39/4
Action at both ends at the Riverside
Middlesbrough potentially played Nottingham Forest at the perfect time and Neil Warnock was able to take full advantage of the Tricky Trees' lack of confidence. The Teessiders managed to secure just their second victory of the campaign without having to get out of second gear. Andraz Sporar netted his first goal for his new club, whereas both Onel Hernandez and Marcus Tavernier were impressive in the final third. Boro have been average in most departments so far this season, although their only two defeats have come against high-flying duo QPR and Coventry. At home, they're yet to keep a clean sheet, although they will fancy their chances of restricting shot-shy Blackpool on Saturday afternoon. The Seasiders were unable to build upon last weekend's sensational victory on Tuesday night with Neil Critchley's men slumping to a disappointing 3-0 defeat in front of their own fans. Although the score-line flattered their opponents, the Seasiders struggled to get going and produced far too little going forward. The newcomers are averaging just 2.7 shots-on-target per game with only Barnsley having produced fewer meaningful efforts so far. Nevertheless, they are fairly unpredictable and have already found the back of the net at Ashton Gate, The Den and The Vitality Stadium. They should be able to ask questions of Joe Lumley in this one.
Recommended Bet: Back BTTS in Middlesbrough vs Blackpool @ 2.0621/20
Sky Blues to secure a point at least
Millwall fans were left frustrated by their side's lack of cutting edge on Wednesday as the Lions laboured to their fourth stalemate of the campaign. Gary Rowett's men are hard to beat and they aren't easily breached, however, they simply aren't producing enough in the opposition's half. Their only victory so far this season came against ten-man Blackpool, and if the Seasiders hadn't opted to leave Jake Cooper unmarked in injury time, the Bermondsey outfit would still be winless after seven matches. Although they launched a few decent counter attacks against Swansea, they rarely looked like finding a way past Ben Hamer and will have to be more incisive on Saturday afternoon. Coventry picked up a narrow victory against Cardiff on Wednesday evening with Mark Robins' side continuing to impress during the early stages of the campaign. Only Fulham and West Brom are averging more shots per game than the Sky Blues, however, they've also been quietly impressive at the back. They've conceded the joint-fewest goals in the division (5), and arrive here off the back of consecutive clean sheets. They should be able to get something against their one-dimensional hosts.
Recommended Bet: Back Coventry Draw No Bet @ 1.9520/21
Blues to edge past struggling Posh
Birmingham put up a decent fight against Fulham on Wednesday night and they produced a string of decent efforts throughout the 90 minutes. Sadly for Lee Bowyer's men, they found Paolo Gazzaniga in inspired form. Despite the result, there is plenty to be positive about in B9 and they will be confident of bouncing back on Saturday afternoon. They've kept four clean sheets so far this season and they are also unbeaten on the road. Although the home fans will have been disappointed with the outcome, they will have been pleased to see Troy Deeney bag his first goal at St. Andrews and although the veteran striker isn't likely to start many games this season, he could prove to be an incredibly useful asset off the bench. Unlike last season, Brum aren't afraid to pour forward and they have the ninth highest average when it comes to shot-on-targets. The hosts have now lost four matches in a row, and their early season form is now seemingly a distant memory for many Posh fans. Despite this, they have found the net in each of their last two games, and although they're only averaging 2.7 shots on target per 90 minutes, they do have plenty of individual talent in their squad. Nevertheless, the visitors seem to enjoy playing on the road at the moment and they could take all three points here.
Recommended Bet: Back Birmingham to beat Peterborough @ 2.3211/8
Lilywhites and Baggies to share points
Despite getting off to a inauspicious start, Preston have significantly improved over the last few weeks and very few sides are likely to get much change out of Frankie McAvoy's outfit. PNE battled admirably against Sheffield United in midweek and deservedly took a point back to Deepdale. Although they still lack a little killer instinct, they do offer plenty of energy going forward and Emil Riis Jakobsen is averaging 0.6 goals per 90 minutes. The Dane is still young and is relatively inexperienced at this level of football, however, his all-round game has undoubtedly improved since his arrival in Lancashire. PNE come into this game four unbeaten and they will fancy their chances of getting something against the high-flying Baggies. West Brom's September form is a little concerning and Val Ismael's side have now found the net just twice in their last three matches. They peppered the Derby goal on Tuesday night, yet they were unable to find a way through and were left incredibly frustrated at the Hawthorns. Although they still haven't tasted defeat this season, they have dropped points in each of their last two games and weren't especially convincing against Peterborough prior to the international break.
Recommended Bet: Back Preston Draw No Bet vs West Brom @ 2.757/4
Goals and entertainment expected at Loftus Road
QPR were the better side against Bournemouth on Tuesday night, yet they failed to leave the Vitality with anything to show for their efforts. Mark Warburton's side hadn't been at their best in previous weeks, however, they put in an improved display on the south coast and confidence remains high amongst supporters. Only four sides have a higher shot count than the West Londoners so far this season and they have much more quality available going forward than this time twelve months ago. With an average of 5.43 shots on target per 90 minutes, the R's are always likely to create chances and they will be expected to ask some serious questions of the Bristol City defence on Saturday afternoon. They've taken five points from a possible nine at home, however, they've kept just a single clean sheet at this ground so far. Against Reading they looked defensively susceptible and they struggled to cope with the Royals' creativity. Although Bristol City don't have an abundance of attacking talent in their squad, they do tend to create opportunities and they tend to be much better on the travels. Six of their eight goals have come away from Ashton Gate and they will be expected to play their part in a very watchable contest.
Recommended Bet: Back BTTS in QPR vs Bristol City @ 1.814/5
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