Teessiders to triumph over Tangerines
Blackpool 3.55 v Middlesbrough 2.35/4; The Draw 3.412/5
Middlesbrough fans are enjoying life under Chris Wilder and the Teessiders are upwardly mobile under the former Sheffield United boss. It hasn’t taken long for the Yorkshireman to stamp his authority on the squad with the majority of the players looking sharper, fitter and hungrier than under the previous regime. Boro were relentless in the first half against Nottingham Forest and constantly forced the opposition into making mistakes, one of which proved to be extremely costly.
Boro have the second highest xG in the division across the last four games, producing an average of 1.80. They’ve also been giving up very few chances and although the Tricky Trees missed some decent chances on Sunday, Boro’s pressing style doesn’t allow the opposition too many opportunities to carve out clearcut openings. Only in-form Blackburn have conceded fewer goals across the last five games than Wilder’s side and they should be able to swarm all over mid-table Blackpool on Wednesday evening.
The Seasiders were in control against Huddersfield on Boxing Day before Jordan Gabriel’s avoidable dismissal edged the game in the Terriers favour. Although their performances have been decent enough, Neil Critchley’s men have won just one of their last nine matches and only Peterborough and Swansea have conceded more goals than the Fylde Coast club across the last five Championship matches.
Blackpool can be dangerous, however, Boro are riding the crest of a wave and they are expected to notch up yet another victory here.
Recommended Bet: Back Middlesbrough to beat Blackpool @ 2.35/4
Coventry and Millwall to produce an entertaining 90 minutes
Coventry 2.0621/20 v Millwall 43/1; The Draw 3.3512/5
At the beginning of the season, Coventry were home specialists with the Sky Blues winning each of their opening six matches at the CBS Arena. However, expectations have been tempered in recent weeks with Mark Robins’ side winning just one of their last five games at this venue. They’ve also managed to keep just a single clean sheet in front of their own fans since the end of September and the supporters will be hoping that they can get back to their defensive best on Wednesday evening.
Although they haven’t been in action for almost three weeks, Coventry’s recent form is fairly uninspiring and they’ve failed to win in any of their last five. However, they have managed to find the net in each of their last three and recently found a way past high-flying duo West Brom and Bournemouth. Despite the recent blip, you can rarely write them off and each of their last four strikes have arrived in the final ten minutes.
Millwall have also played just twice this month, and although they’ve won just one of their last six matches, their recent encounters have been thoroughly entertaining. There have been 16 goals across their last five matches and they should be able to able to find a way past Coventry’s back-line on Wednesday evening.
Recommended Bet: Back BTTS in Coventry vs Millwall @ 1.9520/21
Rovers to edge past resilient Tykes
Blackburn 1.664/6 v Barnsley 6.411/2; The Draw 43/1
Blackburn are the division’s form team and Tony Mowbray’s side have won each of their last five Championship matches, as well as six of the last seven. The Lancastrians have also suffered just a single defeat since mid-October, and the former Middlesbrough manager must be applauded for getting the best out of his young squad. They are indebited to the form of Ben Brereton-Diaz, who has notched 19 times this campaign and is averaging 2.9 shots per game. Even without the Chilean international, they have plenty of quality and the form of John Buckley has also been a significant positive in recent weeks.
Rovers’ rearguard has also been quietly impress and Mowbray’s men are the only side to have not conceded a goal across the last five Championship games. With low-scoring Barnsley visiting Ewood Park on Wednesday, the home fans will be expecting to witness yet another shutout.
The Tykes have ubdoubtedly improved under Poya Asbarghi and although scoring goals remains a problem for the South Yorkshire club, they have managed to tighten up defensively since the change of management. They’ve conceded just three times across their last four matches and managed to keep West Brom off the scoresheet last time out. Despite this notable improvement, they are still likely to fall short here.
Recommended Bet: Back Blackburn to beat Barnsley @ 1.664/6
Another entertaining 90 minutes at Ashton Gate
Bristol City 32/1 v QPR 2.56/4; The Draw 3.412/5
Bristol City have been unable to find any rhythm so far this season. Whereas the majority of sides in the second tier have enjoyed an unbeaten run of some description, the Robins have been unable to win back-to-back games under Nigel Pearson so far this campaign. Prior to their 3-2 collapse at the hands of Huddersfield, they had appeared to be much tougher to beat in front of their own fans, although they’ve now conceded five times in their last two outings. The home fans have had something to cheer in recent weeks however, with the hosts having notched in each of their last six games at this venue.
QPR slipped up against Bournemouth earlier in the week and this is a quick turnaround for Mark Warburton’s side. Ilias Chair’s injury is a concern and the squad is beginning to look a little light heading into this hectic winter period. Although they’ve drawn back-to-back blanks in West London, their away form has been decent enough and they’ve managed to find the net in every single game away from Loftus Road this season. Even without their diminutive playmaker, they should still have enough firepower to find a way past a porous Bristol City defence here.
Recommended Bet: Back BTTS in Bristol City vs QPR @ 1.794/5
Cherries to edge past Bluebirds
Bournemouth 1.715/7 v Cardiff 5.59/2; The Draw 3.953/1
Bournemouth fans will have been relieved to have seen their side get back to winning ways on Monday. Scott Parker’s men had been in poor form, however, they had faced both Blackburn and Middlesbrough, the division’s two in-form sides during that sequence. Having been the better side during their table-topping clash with Fulham, they were always likely to rediscover their form at some point and despite a quick turnaround, they will be expected to secure consecutive victories and get their promotion push back on track here.
Cardiff have been revitalised under Steve Morison, however, they’ve started to conceded sloppy goals once again and the Bluebirds must tighten up ahead of their visit to the Vitality. Their recent record is distinctly average and having found themselves 2-0 down to Birmingham during their last away trip, they have to be tougher to break down on Thursday night. Cardiff have the players to hurt Bournemouth, although its at the other end of field where this game is likely to be lost for Welsh side.
Recommended Bet: Back Bournemouth to beat Cardiff @ 1.715/7
Forest to bounce back by the Trent
Nottingham Forest 2.021/1 v Huddersfield 43/1; The Draw 3.55
Steve Cooper suffered just his second defeat as Nottingham Forest manager on Sunday as his side came up against in-form Middlesbrough. Despite the result, there were a few positives to take from the second half display and the visitors always carried a threat through the lively Brennan Johnson. They also defended stoutly at times with Scott McKenna and Joe Worrall helping to keep the scoreline respectable. Following a run of three clean sheets, Cooper’s men have now conceded in three consecutive outings, although they remain one of the better sides in the division when it comes to keeping the opposition at arm’s length.
Huddersfield come into this tie having won back-to-back Championship games for the first time since late-August. The Terriers were lively going forward against Blackpool, however, they clearly benefited from Jordan Gabriels’ moment of madness. Carlos Corberan’s side are playing with plenty of confidence and the form of Sorba Thomas always give them a chance, however, they may just find themselves unable to get the better of a determined Forest outfit, who will be desperate to bounce back from a Boxing Day disappointment.
Recommended Bet: Back Nottingham Forest to beat Huddersfield @ 2.021/1
Rams and Potters to cancel one another out
Stoke 1.715/7 v Derby 5.79/2; The Draw 3.7511/4
Stoke have played just twice in December and they’ve managed to keep clean sheets in both of those fixtures. Michael O’Neill’s side appear to have got back to their best at the back following a period of uncertainty. Overall, they’ve conceded just two goals in their last seven matches and they possess one of the Championship’s best defensive records. They’ve suffered just two defeats so far this season, both of which have come by a one goal margin. In-form Blackburn were the last side to win at this ground and Derby will find it tough to breach the home rearguard.
The Rams picked up a sensational three points against West Brom last time out. Wayne Rooney’s men may have been written off, however, he’s done a fantastic job and his squad appear to genuinely believe that they can avoid the drop this season. The East Midlands side have also kept back-to-back clean sheets and have avoided defeat in five of their last eight away games. They’ve found goals hard to come by on their travels, but they’ve been able to keep things tight and there is unlikely to be much between this pair.
Recommended Bet: Back Draw in Stoke vs Derby @ 3.7511/4
You can follow Jack Critchley on Twitter @jcritch7