Reading to feel the Blues
Birmingham v Reading
Study Birmingham's results this season as a whole, and you'll see a strong start, strong recent form, and a large six game blip in between in which they didn't muster up a single goal.
Dig a bit deeper, and the performances in that period were nowhere near as bad as the results - with 6.8 xG generated, it was poor finishing letting them down rather than any larger issues. Seven goals scored in three straight wins have coincided with Troy Deeney establishing himself as the strike partner of Scott Hogan. Deeney's hold up play and creativity has benefitted both Hogan and attacking midfielder Riley McGree - between the three of them they have five goals in three games. Lee Bowyer has built an excellent team that defends well and knows how to hurt teams.
The same can't be said of Reading, who have been beaten to nil three times in a row since losing 2-3 from 2-0 up vs Blackpool. They're running on empty, with horrendous injury issues, a bench packed with U23 players, and even the manager now isolating having tested positive for Covid. They're in need of an international break, which they'll get but not until after travelling to St Andrew's where they come up against an in-form side that should overpower them.
Back Birmingham to beat Reading at 10/11
Sky Blues to add to Robins' gloom
Coventry v Bristol City
While Reading's poor form can be partly explained by an injury crisis, Bristol City have no excuses. They've lost four of their last five games, and their solitary win in that time came against a desperate Barnsley side, who sacked their manager immediately afterwards. The Robins are lacking creativity and have only kept one clean sheet all season.
Four of Bristol City's five wins have come against teams down at the bottom, and their other victory was a smash and grab away at QPR. Put simply, when they come up against competent sides, they tend to be second best. And Coventry are certainly competent, particularly at home where they've won six of eight this season.
While Viktor Gyokeres' goalscoring streak has cooled, Matty Godden continues to look sharp and has three goals in his last four. Coventry's strength comes from having a very settled team, an effective style of play they are comfortable with and a fanbase loving what they're seeing so far this season. A good performance here and they should get past the lacklustre Bristol City.
Back Coventry to beat Bristol City at 3/4
Fulham to keep on scoring
Fulham's 7-0 win at Blackburn in midweek pushed them to an astonishing 43 goals in 16 games (2.69 per game) so far this season. Rovers' first-half red card and kamikaze defending played a big part in the scoreline, but this is a ridiculously stacked Fulham side that show no mercy.
Aleksander Mitrovic's goalscoring numbers are well-known by now, but bear repeating: 19 goals in 16 games. Only Erling Haaland is matching him across Europe. And it's not some freakish run of unsustainable finishing. If Fulham keep creating the same level of chances for him, there's no reason the numbers will drop off significantly. The bad news for Peterborough is that none of their defenders have the size or defensive skill to handle Mitrovic.
Fulham have scored three or more in half of their games this season, while Posh have leaked three or more in 6/16 matches. With Carvalho, Cairney and Muniz coming off the bench, all hungry to impress, it doesn't get any easier as the game goes on. The league's top scorers are taking on the team that have conceded the most goals.
Back Fulham to score three goals or more 9/5