August 7, 2019

EFL Championship Match Previews – 10th August Saturday

Birmingham City v Bristol City

Against all the odds, Birmingham City opened their Championship campaign with a 1-0 away win over fancied Brentford. However, it is fair to say that Pep Clotet’s men rode their luck on that occasion. The Blues scored with their only shot on goal – a set piece header from outside the box, and Brentford hit the woodwork on three occasions. Whilst the result was great, Clotet knows there is still plenty of work to be done. In midweek, a much-changed XI was then knocked out of the EFL Cup by League One Portsmouth, suggesting that the league is very much their priority.

Bristol City were very much put in their place by another fancied side in the form of Leeds in front of the television cameras on Sunday. They were second best in all departments, and Lee Johnson has opened up the club chequebook to spend some of the money they recouped for Adam Webster, who joined Brighton a few days ago. Whilst losing to Leeds is no disgrace, they travel knowing that much better is expected of them and three points at Birmingham is very much their intention. The sooner they get on the board, the better, as they’re one of those teams that can easily put a run of results together.

Birmingham have looked toothless in front of goal in their opening two matches, although both were away from home. In front of their own supporters, Clotet will want their new-look formation and style of play to click, but time will be needed before they start to look like the functioned under he wants them to be. They’re deemed the favourites this weekend, possibly on the basis of them winning and being at home, plus Bristol lost first time up. However, on paper, Bristol City should quietly fancy their chances of getting a result on the day.

Johnson’s men proved tough to beat on the road towards the end of last season. They only lost three of their last 14 away, and two of those were versus teams who will be in the Premier League this season in Norwich and Sheffield United. Birmingham won just three of their last 15 at home, and as mentioned it’s likely Clotet needs much move time to get this time playing as he wants. New signings have only just come through the door, and whilst the same is said of Bristol City, they aren’t changing their system and tactics as dramatically as their weekend opponents.

Bristol City 0 on the Asian Handicap is a good play on this occasion. They will feel they have a point to prove after losing to Leeds, and they will create enough chances to give us a shot at a full pay-out.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Bristol City DNB at 2.070

Leeds United v Nottingham Forest

An exciting Championship battle is the television focus on Saturday lunchtime as Leeds take on Nottingham Forest at Elland Road. Both teams had contrasting starts to the campaign last weekend, with Leeds impressing away at Bristol City, whilst Forest came up short at home to West Bromwich Albion. One thing we can say about Leeds is that master tactician Marcelo Bielsa has firmly installed his method into this group of players. They have a clear identity. Nottingham Forest on the flip side are again under new management, this time Sabri Lamouchi, and the former French international midfielder has added several new faces as he looks to bed down a preferred eleven and way of playing.

Therefore, it comes as no real surprise to see Leeds voted as odds-on shots to make it two from two at the weekend, even though they’ve lost striker Kemar Roofe to Belgian outfit Anderlecht. Patrick Bamford has been the regular striker for a while now anyway at Elland Road, and is very much proven at this level. As mentioned, they’re very much on method, and only Swansea managed more shots on the opening weekend of the Championship season. Leeds peppered Bristol City goalkeeper Dan Bentley’s goal 18 times, and could’ve scored a goal or two more than the three they did. To be fair, Forest weren’t too shabby in that regard either as they had 15 attempts on goal. It could be argued that not too many of them could be classed as clear-cut openings, which is disappointing playing at home, but this team is still very much a work in progress.

It is the goals angle however which offers greater appeal for me on this occasion. Only three games out of the 12 in the league to start the season ended below the 2.5 goal line. Certainly in two of those three games which did a case could’ve been made for more goals to have been scored based on chances created. It could be that another end-to-end game is anticipated between two teams that very much have offensive intentions. Leeds at home, of course they do, and I don’t necessarily think Lamouchi will be parking the bus or anything like that.

Eight of Leeds’ last 12 regulation season fixtures at the end of the previous campaign beat the 2.5 goal line, and their goal threat is obvious. Forest will get better over time and the fact Leeds will go for this at Elland Road could suit them in a way, certainly on the break.

Over 2.5 goals has to be of interest the way the Championship season has gone so far. Both goalkeepers are likely to be tested and it really should be 0-0. Shouldn’t!

Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 2.50 goals at 1.860

Middlesbrough v Brentford

Middlesbrough were involved in the opening game of the Championship season last Friday night away at Luton, and this proved to be the highest-scoring match in the whole of the EFL on matchday one. It was an exciting game with chances at either end, and a far cry from what Boro fans experienced last season under Tony Pulis. It was a very clean indication that Jonathan Woodgate wants his team to entertain. Sure, they’ll concede some goals along the way, but they’ll score too. Don’t be surprised to see their prices on over 2.5 goals drop as the season progresses.

Brentford are an xG favourite and have been for a good few seasons now. For all that lost to Birmingham 1-0 first time up this season, they so easily could have won 3-0 or 4-0. In truth, they should have done, but remember they didn’t have Neal Maupay or Said Benrahma in their side on that occasion. They’re bedding in new faces, plus Maupay has moved on, so it could be that they too need a bit of time before their end product sharpens up. They fired 15 shots on goal and earned over 70% possession, the highest in the league last weekend for keeping the ball. Thomas Frank’s team are likely to entertain and should soon be back amongst the goals.

Sometimes when two exciting, offensive teams collide that they can cancel one another out, but I don’t really expect that to happen on this occasion. Even under Pulis last season, more of their games could have contained more goals, if it wasn’t for fine goalkeeping from their very own Darren Randolph. We’ve already seen what they can create going forward too, so I fully expect both keepers to be called into action at the Riverside Stadium.

This is a fixture which has generally produced goals, too. It has been regularly played since 2014, and of their ten league and play-off meetings, seven of those has beat the 2.5 goal line. Boro fired 17 shots on goal against Luton, and they rarely reached that figure in the whole of last season. They’ll keep scoring goals if they reach those numbers, and Brentford are never far off them, even away from home.

I expect goals here, and Over 2.5 has to be the play, even more taking into account the amount of goals this league has produced so far.

Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 2.50 goals at 1.990

Preview by: @JamesOR1.

Don’t miss out on James O’Rourke’s selections for Birmingham City v Bristol City, Leeds United v Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough v Brentford. What better way to place your bets than through Eastbridge’s Skype betting service or through VOdds?

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