Saturday Championship Tips: Swans to Keep Toothless Terriers at Arm's Length

Swansea boss Steve Cooper
Steve Cooper will be hoping that his side can continue their excellent start to the season

Swansea's defence has been rock solid so far this season, and Jack Critchley is expecting Steve Cooper's side to edge past Huddersfield on Saturday...

"The South Walians have been beaten just three times in the Championship since February 11th, with two of their conquerers having subsequently secured promotion to the Premier League"

Swans to pick up fourth win of the campaign

Swansea 1/12.00 v Huddersfield 16/54.2; The Draw 5/23.5
Saturday, 15:00

Following last seasons unexpected late run to the play-offs, Swansea City appear to have carried on where they left off, despite a relatively high turnover of players during the summer break. With Joe Rodon heavily linked with a move to North London, and Liverpool's Harry Wilson rumoured to be arriving in SA1 before the window closes on Friday, this weekend's starting XI could look very different to the one which beat in-form Millwall a fortnight ago.

Rodon has played a key role in helping the Swans keep three clean sheets in their opening four matches, and although his impending departure could potentially cause a little disruption, the majority of the side is likely to remain in place for the visit of Huddersfield this weekend. Goals have been a little harder to come by this campaign, with Rhian Brewster now plying his trade in South Yorkshire, however, the dynamism of Morgan Gibbs-White and Jamal Lowe has allow the Welshmen to create plenty of opportunities in their opening four fixtures. The athleticism of Jake Bidwell has also been one of the standout features of this Swansea side, with the experienced left-back having already registed a goal and two assists this season.

The South Walians have been beaten just three times in the Championship since February 11th, with two of their conquerers having subsequently secured promotion to the Premier League. Cooper's side are extremely tough to beat, and the manner of their victory against Millwall was testament to the spirit within their squad. Their heads didn't drop following Tom Bradshaw's equaliser, and it took them just 17 minutes to get their heads back in front.

Although the hosts are generally considered to be a possession-based side, they have only commanded an average of 54% so far this campaign, and opponents Huddersfield are likely to see far more of the ball in this encounter.

The Terriers are still in transition under Carlos Corberan, and there are undoubtedly plenty of positives to be taken from their recent 1-1 draw against Rotherham. However, despite having 73% possession, they weren't able to edge past the struggling Millers, and managed just a single shot on target. Josh Kormoma's profligacy in front of goal didn't help matters, and although fans were excited by the performance of midfielder Carel Eiting, there is still plenty of work to do in West Yorkshire.

Huddersfield have looked far better at the back in recent weeks, with Richard Stearman and Naby Sarr having forged a decent partnership, whilst Harry Toffolo continues to impress down the left. However, it's the lack of firepower which continues to concern supporters. Reinforcements are likely to arrive before the window closes on Friday, however, any new arrivals are unlikely to be pitched straight into starting XI and may require time to get up to speed. At the time of writing, Karlan Grant is on the brink of joining West Brom, and although he has barely featured this season, the club must ensure that the money is re-invested wisely.

Having faced Norwich, Brentford and Nottingham Forest in their opening three fixtures, it's been a tough start to the 2020-21 campaign for Corberan's men, and this fixture is likely to be far from straightforward. Huddersfield have scored just two goals so far, and they simply must find a way of improving their creativity in the final third. The signs are generally positive, and with an promising batch of exciting young talents on the verge of breaking through, the future looks relatively bright at the John Smith's Stadium. However, this game is likely to come a little too soon, and Swansea look far too streetwise for the goal-shy visitors.

The hosts can be backed at 1/12.00 on the Exchange, and although this price is likely to shorten ahead of kick-off, Swansea look worth backing continue their upward momentum and to make it four wins from their first five games.

Cherries to give QPR the runaround

Bournemouth 4/51.78 v QPR 4/15.1; The Draw 14/53.8
Saturday, 15:00

Bournemouth have made the ideal start to the new Championship season with Jason Tindall's side having picked up 10 points from a possible 12. Cherries fans were expecting a mass exodus this summer, and although one or two of their bigger names have moved to pastures new, the majority of the squad has remained in place, with a handful of new additions and youngsters helping to beef up the squad. David Brooks looks likely to leave before deadline day, whilst Josh King is another player who has been continually linked with a move away from the south coast.

Neither of the wantaway duo featured in the club's recent 3-1 victory over Coventry City, which is excellent news for continuity purposes. However, it remains to be seen whether Jefferson Lerma's exploits in South America will result in the Colombian being rested for this weekend's tie.

Their 3-1 success at St. Andrews a fortnight ago was the first time that Bournemouth have truly turned on the style this season, with their all-conquering performance seeing them fire in 19 shots, with 14 of these coming from inside the penalty area. They also missed a couple of decent opportunities to extend their lead, and it's a display which bodes well for their chances of returning to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

Although it's still early days, the hosts appear to have plenty of bite in the final third, with only Blackburn, Brentford, Norwich and Preston having managed more efforts on goal so far this campaign. As joint-top Reading will attest, the shot count isn't everything, although Bournemouth appear to have developed a ruthless streak of late, and they are likely to relishing the prospect of facing a leaky QPR back-line. They are the only second tier club to have opened the scoring before the break in each of the opening four fixtures, and they are likely to be quick out of the blocks once again this weekend.

Mark Warburton's young side were incredibly inconsistent last season with a 16-10-20 record resulting in a mid-table finish and the early signs seem to suggest that the West Londoners will be equally as patchy this time around. They opened up with a decent victory over Nottingham Forest, before conceding three to Coventry in front of the television cameras. Back-to-back draws perhaps suugests that this QPR side have become slightly tougher to beat, however, they may find it difficult to contain a lively Bournemouth frontline.

The partnership of Rob Dickie and Yoann Barbet managed to largely hold firm against Sheffield Wednesday two weeks ago, however, questions remain about the ability of the Frenchman when it comes to facing better sides, and his occasional lapses in concentration can prove costly. He is vastly experienced, and a useful presence in the dressing room, however, he isn't always the most orthodox of central defenders, and regularly leaves supporters with their hearts in their mouths.

Last season, the visitors lost 11 times on their travels, conceding at least twice in eight of those encounters and having already endured a torrid evening in the Midlands back in late September, they may suffer a similar outcome here.

QPR are capable of scoring goals, and Bournemouth's defence has already been breached on four occasions. Therefore, backing Over 1.5 Bournemouth goals at 3/4 on the Sportsbook looks a far safer way to approach this game.

Hatters and Potters to take a point each

Luton 2/13.00 v Stoke 6/42.48; The Draw 9/43.25
Saturday, 15:00

It's been a very impressive start to the season for Luton with Nathan Jones continuing to impress during his second stint at Kenilworth Road. The Hatters have won three of their first four games, and although they may have benefitted from facing out-of-form Barnsley and Wycombe during their opening quartest of fixtures, they thoroughly deserve to sit fifth in the embryonic table.

Although they are still a little light on numbers in the final third, Luton's squad has a nice balance to it, and the addition of Joe Morrell, who looks set to join from Bristol City this week, should give them an extra bit of quality in the centre of the park. Jordan Clark also continues to impress since his summer move from Accrington, and he could give the Stoke defence plenty to think about on Saturday afternoon.

Jones may have only returned to Bedfordshire in late May, however, Luton's form has been steadily improving since mid-February. They've lost just three of their last 19 Championship games, with two of those three defeats coming away from home. The hosts have looked far more organised at the back, with Sonny Bradley, Matty Pearson and Martin Cranie all having looked comfortable in recent weeks. Although Rhys Norrington-Davies is more famed for his forays down the left, he's also looked perfectly comfortable on the back foot.

Stoke's games have been far from entertaining this season, with their opening four matches containing just five goals. Michael O'Neill's side look incredibly tough to breach, and although they are far from free-scoring, they do have players who are capable of producing a match-winning moment of magic. Tyrese Campbell has the pace to bamboozle defenders, whilst Nick Powell is a hugely talented, yet enigmatic playmaker. Steven Fletcher and Sam Clucas are also seasoned Championship performers, and there are also plenty of options from the bench.

Harry Souttar enjoyed a successful loan spell at Fleetwood last season, and the defender was a towering presence against Birmingham two weeks ago. The Potters' defence looks rock solid, and it is going to take something special to find a way past them. Only table-topping Bristol City have managed to beat them so far this campaign, and they are unbeaten in their last six competitive away fixtures. Across all competitions, each of their last three away victories has ended with the same scoreline (1-0) and there is unlikely to be much to seperate these two well-organised sides.

Backing these two teams to cancel one another out at 9/43.25 looks the best option this weekend, with the points being shared between two sides who've made impressive starts to the 2020-21 campaign.

You can follow Jack Critchley on Twitter @jcritch7

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