The Championship returns this weekend following the international break and Jack Critchley is backing Fulham to rack up the goals at Bloomfield Road...
"Marco Silva's side have already notched 12 goals in their opening five matches, with seven of those strikes arriving on their travels. With an average xG of 1.83 on the road so far, the visitors are understandably favourites for this tie..."
Blackpool to suffer third consecutive home defeat
Fulham have made a terrific start to the 2021-22 Championship season and the Cottagers already appear destined to return to the Premier League at the first time of asking. Marco Silva's side have already notched 12 goals in their opening five matches, with seven of those strikes arriving on their travels. With an average xG of 1.83 on the road so far, the visitors are understandably favourites for this tie and at 1.68/13 on the Exchange, they are likely to be very popular with punters this weekend. Although they have a handful of injuries, and a number of players returning from international duty, they should still have enough quality to collect three points in this one. Recent signing Rodrigo Muniz may get an outing here, whereas Harrison Reed and Ivan Cavaleiro should have done enough to earn a start.
Blackpool are yet to clinch their first victory of the season, however, they've been competitive in the majority of their contests so far. The Seasiders went down to ten men against Millwall and were seconds away from collecting a point at the Den. Neil Critchley's men have perhaps been a little naive at times and their failure to pick up lofty defender Jake Cooper in the dying stages of that defeat was a costly mistake that they cannot afford to repeat here. Cardiff and Coventry have both left this ground with maximum points and with an xGA of 2.8 and 2.5, they always look liable to concede on their own patch. The hosts have recruited sensibly during the window, and after months of searching, they've finally managed to sign two right-backs. Blackpool will improve and are likely to start picking up points, however, this could be their toughest fixture to date.
Recommended Bet: Back Fulham to Win and Over 1.5 Match Goals @ 1.9110/11
Points shared at Ewood Park
Blackburn have made a solid enough start to the campaign and Tony Mowbray will be pleased with his side's recent performances. They weren't at their best against Middlesbrough, however, they've added some decent players to their squad with the likes of Ian Poveda, Tayo Edun, Reda Khadra and Leighton Clarkson all arriving at Ewood Park prior to the international break. Rovers aren't likely to be as gung-ho as last season, however, they still have plenty of attacking talent in their ranks and they almost took a point from West Brom at this ground on August 21st. Luton responded to their 5-0 drubbing by taking a hard-earned point against Sheffield United. The Hatters created very little in that contest, however, they were simply determined to avoid defeat and they will now look to build upon that result. Luton don't score many goals away from home, netting just 16 in 23 last season, however, they also picked up a number of narrow victories against mid-table opposition along the way. Both of these sides will be determined to avoid defeat here, and there is very little between these two outfits. It's likely to end all-square.
Recommended Bet: Back Draw in Blackburn vs Luton @ 3.45
Entertaining 90 minutes at the Vitality
With early pacesetters Fulham and West Brom already looking likely to fill the two automatic promotion spots, Bournemouth may have to settle for the play-offs once again this season. Scott Parker's men are yet to be defeated, however, they've already dropped six points across their opening five matches, and these semi-regular slip-ups could turn out to be costly for the Cherries. They are blessed with attacking talent, and they do have several players who have barely featured due to injury, however, they are yet to completely convince. They have drawn their opening two matches at the Vitality, despite taking the lead in both encounters. When it comes to defending, Parker's men have been far more reliable on the road so far and Barnsley will fancy their chances of finding the back of the net this weekend. The Tykes have suffered just a single defeat so far this campaign, although they've also managed just a solitary victory under new boss Markus Schopp. Despite their disappointing xG numbers, the South Yorkshire side do have the knack of creating chances and they should ask plenty of questions here. Schopp may opt to deploy summer signing Obi Oulare this weekend, whereas Remy Vita may also be given a start. The visitors should be able to show enough adventure in the final third to find the back of the net at the Vitality.
Recommended Bet: Back BTTS in Bournemouth vs Barnsley @ 1.9620/21
Robins to finally win at Ashton Gate
Bristol City haven't registered a home victory since January 26th and Nigel Pearson will be desperate to end his side's barren run this weekend. The Robins were the better side against Swansea on August 20th, however, they somehow slipped to a disappointing 1-0 defeat. The club have added sensibly this summer with Carlisle's George Tanner the latest player to arrive at Ashton Gate. Further recruitment is expected in January, although there are a number of younger players such as Alex Scott and Cameron Pring who have also stepped up to help plug the gaps. The club's 2-1 victory over rivals Cardiff two weeks ago was a significant step forward and despite their poor record at this stadium, there is likely to be plenty of confidence amongst both players and fans. Preston have put their disappointing start firmly behind them and Frankie McAvoy's side have won each of their last two matches. Away from home, they have struggled and the lack of firepower in their squad is likely to hold them back this season. Nevertheless, PNE will provide stiff opposition this weekend, however, they could just fall short in the south west.
Recommended Bet: Back Bristol City to beat Preston @ 2.3411/8
Both sides to register at the Coventry Building Society Arena
Despite playing their home games at St.Andrews last season, Coventry's form in the West Midlands was absolutely key to their survival. The Sky Blues have now returned to home turf, and they appear to have continued where they left off. The return of fans has come at the perfect time for Mark Robins' men and their patient supporters have been rewarded with back-to-back home victories so far this campaign. They've been exciting to watch and only West Brom have taken more shots than the Warwickshire outfit across the first five matches. Viktor Gyokeres may have missed a number of opportunities, however, only Aleksandar Mitrovic has attempted more efforts on goal than the lively Swede. With Callum O'Hare finding the gaps and Gyokeres regularly testing Joe Lumley, the hosts will be expected to get on the score-sheet on Saturday afternoon. Middlesbrough aren't likely to be swept aside easily this season, and the Teessiders have suffered just a single defeat so far. Neil Warnock's men may have lost Sam Morsy during the summer window, however, they've made some intriguing additions with the likes of Martin Payero and James Lea Siliki arriving at the Riverside Stadium this summer. Boro will be hopeful of taking a point from this game, however, they may need to get on the score-sheet in order to secure it.
Recommended Bet: Back BTTS in Coventry vs Middlesbrough @ 1.991/1
QPR to heap further misery on lowly Royals
It's been an exceptionally poor start to the campaign for Reading, and the Royals have attempted to address this with the additions of Scott Dann, Junior Hoilett and Abdul-Rahman Baba. Alen Halilovic has also arrived from Birmingham and despite having only made a fleeting appearance so far, the Croatian appears to be savvy addition. Vejlko Paunvoic will be hoping that the aforementioned Dann can help the Berkshire side tighten up at the back as they've conceded 13 times in their opening five matches and their xGA numbers are extremely concerning. Although they've been far better going forward, they've been in disarray at the back and in-form QPR will fancy their chances of bagging at least a couple here. The Rs have been sensational so far this season and Mark Warburton will be hoping that the international break hasn't quashed any of their recent momentum. They've scored three times in each of their opening two away games and they have been tremendously entertaining to watch. QPR have had the third highest number of shots on target per game so far and both Rob Dickie and Chris Willock have caught the eye for the West Londoners. The visitors should be able to find gaps amongst the Reading back-line on Saturday afternoon.
Recommended Bet: Back Over 1.5 QPR team goals vs Reading @ 2.186/5
Blades to pick up their first victory of the campaign
It's an astonishingly poor start for Sheffield United and Slavisa Jokanovic still has plenty of questions to answer at Bramall Lane. The Blades have struggled to find the back of the net this season and they've scored just 13 times since New Year's Day. At the back, they appeared to have improved and their goalless draw at Kenilworth Road was certainly a step in the right direction. They have made some exciting additions in the transfer window with Morgan Gibbs-White, Ben Davies and serial Championship promotion winner Conor Hourihane all arriving at the end of August. Although they may take time to settle in, they latter should improve the Blades' output in the final third and his proficiency from set-piece situations is likely to win them a few points this campaign. Peterborough have made a solid enough start to the season and Posh will be confident of taking something from this tie. All of their points have been picked up at home so far, and they have struggled to keep the opposition at arm's length on their travels. Only Swansea have attempted fewer shots so far, and they may not be able to sufficiently test the rejuvinated Blades' back-line.
Recommended Bet: Back Sheffield United to beat Peterborough @ 1.728/11
Potters and Terriers to share the spoils
Stoke have made a fantastic start to the campaign, although their 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Fulham may have brought them back down to earth with a bump. Michael O'Neill has recruited sensibly this summer and the recent addition of Romaine Sawyers could prove to be a masterstroke. There is plenty of competition for places in the Potters squad and the Northern Irishman will have plenty of options on the bench if things aren't going his way here. Last season, they were tough to beat on their own patch, and having won each of their opening two matches in Staffordshire, they are unlikely to drop many points in front of their own fans. Their xGA numbers have been eye-catching and Huddersfield may struggle to test Josef Bursik. Nevertheless, the Terriers are full of confidence and they have won each of their last three Championship matches. Carlos Corberan's side are extremely lively and the likes of Sorba Thomas and Josh Koroma are extremely exciting to watch. The West Yorkshire side have only been defeated by Fulham so far and they may battle their way to a precious point this weekend.
Recommended Bet: Back Draw in Stoke vs Huddersfield @ 3.613/5
Swans and Tigers to struggle in South Wales
Swansea are still largely viewed as a side 'in transition' and although Russell Martin will be disappointed with his side's points haul, he will have enjoyed seeing his side keeping possession effectively. However, the Welshmen have the lowest xG in the division and they need to be far less ponderous in the final third. They were defeated by Preston last time out, and although they picked up maximum points against Bristol City at Ashton Gate, they were far from convincing. Ethan Laird has settled in nicely, whilst Joel Piroe is showing signs of becoming a regular Championship goalscorer. Hull got off to the perfect start when thumping Preston at Deepdale, however, they've failed to build on that opening day success. The Tigers have failed to score in their subsequent four matches and although they took a point off Bournemouth, they created very little against the Cherries. This is unlikely to be a classic, and there could be very few clearcut chances.
Recommended Bet: Back Under 2.5 Goals in Swansea vs Hull @ 1.824/5
Baggies to ease past low-scoring Lions
West Brom weren't entirely convincing against Peterborough prior to the international break, however, they still managed to secure all three points with a last gasp strike from Semi Ajayi. Despite their struggles against Posh, WBA have clocked up the highest xG numbers in the division and are averging 17.4 shots per game. The addition of Jordan Hugill will offer them a different dimension going forward and Valerien Ismael's side are only likely to get stronger as the season progresses. Only Fulham have netted more goals from open play this season, whereas only Cardiff and Huddersfield have registered more goals from set-piece strikes. Millwall picked up a vital three points against Blackpool two weeks ago, however, they had to work hard for that success. The Lions struggled to break down the 10-man Seasiders and they need to be more creative here. The Bermondsey side are attempting around 12 shots per game, however, they haven't been able to convert their chances and there remains an over-reliance on Jed Wallace. Only three players have found the back of the net for Gary Rowett's men so far and that may not be enough to cause an upset here.
Recommended Bet: Back West Brom to beat Millwall @ 1.68/13
You can follow Jack Critchley on Twitter @jcritch7
Jack's 2021/22 Profit/Loss: