Mike Holden on the EFL: Avon calls again for improving Brum

Birmingham City manager Garry Monk
Garry Monk can guide Birmingham to a priceless three points at Bristol City
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Birmingham secured Championship survival with victory at Ashton Gate on the final day of last season and they can go some way towards repeating the trick with another win over Bristol City on Tuesday night...

"If the historical trends of both managers are to be trusted, there’s decent value in the [4.60] about the away win and it might also be worth splitting a point between the 0-1 and 0-2 correct scores at [12.00] and [22.00] respectively. Monk has landed one or the other 22 times in 75 games managing at this level, implied odds of 12/5 when combined."

Have faith in Monk's methodology

Bristol City v Birmingham
Championship, Tuesday 19:45

Birmingham dropped two valuable points against bottom club Burton at the weekend but a late equaliser from Lukas Jutkiewicz limited the damage to preserve the underlying sense of progress being made under Garry Monk. Now they can swiftly erase that blip by claiming an unexpected three points at Bristol City.

Sometimes it's hard to look beyond a poor result and find mitigating factors but Monk, without knowing the scoreline, would have gladly accepted the match stats before the game. Blues registered 25 shots against the Brewers, 13 on target, against just six and two in response.

The expected goals metric told a similar story too, making Birmingham almost three full goals superior, and when you add that probable outcome to three straight wins over Hull (3-0), Ipswich (1-0) and Bolton (1-0), you have the basis of a solid showing at Ashton Gate.

And it's not just the clean sheets that impress. Over the past six hours of match action, keeper David Stockdale has been called into action just four times. It's all reminiscent of how Leeds used to control games under Monk's meticulous guidance last season when they accumulated 75 points, keeping 15 clean sheets.

That squad at Elland Road was no better on paper than the one Monk has inherited at St Andrew's, so it's not unreasonable to assume these dogged standards are here to stay and they could be competing as equals with Lee Johnson's men next season. But first things first, Birmingham need to secure their Championship status and they can prey on current fragility in the home ranks.

Bristol were turned over by play-off rivals Millwall (0-2) at the weekend, which means they've managed just three wins in their last 20 matches (all competitions) and taken just 15 points from the last available 51. At Christmas, the Robins were operating on a 57% shot ratio. Since then, it has dropped to 46%.

It's not quite on a par with the mid-season collapse last term when the Avon outfit plummeted from fifth in October all the way down into the relegation zone by March but it goes to show how much Johnson struggles to turn things around when he gets on a bad run. Something similar also happened during his time at Barnsley.

If the historical trends of both managers are to be trusted, there's decent value in the [4.60] about the away win and it might also be worth splitting a point between the 0-1 and 0-2 correct scores at [12.00] and [22.00] respectively. Monk has landed one or the other 22 times in 75 games managing at this level, implied odds of 12/5 when combined.


Big-match tonic for stagnating Gills

Gillingham v Blackburn
League One, Tuesday 19:45

Steve Lovell apologised to Gillingham fans for a "very, very lacklustre" performance following Saturday's 0-0 draw with Doncaster but a visit from the league leaders and former hero Bradley Dack (if available) might be just what they need to drag themselves out of their current slump and summon up one last big effort before the summer.

The Gills appear to have been suffering from a mild case of 50-point syndrome, their season tailing-off badly as they approached the target set by Lovell on his appointment back in October. A month ago, they were 11th following an eye-catching 3-1 win at Portsmouth but that was followed by a fortnight break and three straight defeats on their return left them stuck on 49 points.

They finally reached their specified total at the weekend but Lovell is perhaps hinting at a sense of lethargy in the camp when he talks about the Kent club still needing another win to stave off relegation. If the shock treatment doesn't have the desired effect, the whiff of glamour that disembarks the Blackburn team coach just might.

Dack, who swept up a raft of personal awards in the previous three seasons at Priestfield, is a slight doubt on his return after hobbling off with just 11 minutes on the clock in Saturday's 1-0 win over Southend. But Mowbray revealed afterwards that his substitution was precautionary and the 24-year-old is desperate to play in this game.

Either way, you can rest assured that the banter has been flying backwards and forwards between Dack and his former colleagues over the past few days, which might not do Blackburn any favours. If it creates a sense of occasion that Gillingham rise to, then odds of [6.20] about the home win are well worth a speculative interest.

Rovers have suffered only one league defeat since mid-October, picking up a 59 points from the last 24 matches. It's a staggering run of form but Mowbray admitted his team looked nervy at the weekend and there could be a hiccup somewhere along the way now that the finishing line is in sight.


Mike Holden Profit/Loss 2017-18

Staked: 133 pts
Returned: 94.65 pts
P/L: -38.35 pts

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