Blackburn v Millwall
With the international break now out of the way, we can get our teeth stuck into some Championship action this weekend, and whilst Blackburn versus Millwall doesn’t necessarily jump off the page as being a thriller, it is still a match where we can gain some profit from. Both sides have only scored five goals each in their six league fixtures, also both conceding seven.
Tony Mowbray will have been encouraged by what he has seen in recent weeks. Whilst they went down away at West Brom last time out, they went toe-to-toe away from home to a fancied opponent, only just falling short 3-2. They went three unbeaten in the league prior to that, gaining two 1-0 wins and then a 0-0 draw. Clearly they’ve been involved in some close encounters for a few weeks now, meaning the margin for error is very fine.
Ewood Park is at least a venue that Rovers can rely on picking up some points from. It has very much become a bit of fortress for Mowbray’s men. They’ve only lost seven of their last 28 league matches here, and their last five losses have all been by a one-goal margin. Teams will be made to work to beat them in Lancashire, but they’ll be keen to score a few more goals without a doubt.
Millwall are in the same boat in relation to goals. The international break possibly came at a good time for them after four without a win in league and cup, giving Neil Harris a chance to work on the training ground with only a couple away with their countries. Like Blackburn, they’ve been involved in tight games so far, with the exception of the 4-0 setback away at Fulham. They don’t tend to travel too well either, having won only four of their last 30 Championship away contests.
The reality is that both of these teams aren’t troubling the opposition goalkeeper too much. Only two clubs are averaging fewer shots on goal in the league than Millwall, whilst both Blackburn and Millwall are averaging only 2.8 shots on target, which is among the bottom-five teams in the division.
It would be a surprise if this one was to contain too many goals, even more so having not played for two weeks and perhaps needing a bit of time to get back into the hustle and bustle rhythm this league is so defined by. Under 2.5 goals will be our play as only three of the 12 games these two have played combined this season has finished over.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Under 2.50 at 1.760
Fulham v West Brom
Fulham and West Brom have been so used to facing each other in the Premier League as this will be the first Championship meeting between the two clubs since the 2000/01 campaign. Fulham are winless in their last three fixtures in league and cup, whilst WBA remain one of only three unbeaten Championship clubs after six matches.
It is clear that Fulham are still finding their feet this season, and in the Scott Parker era in general. He is implementing his own tactics, methods and style of play, as well as adding a flurry of new faces to the group. It is likely that they were always going to improve as the season progressed, so sitting in a play-off place after six games isn’t so bad, even if they have end of season aspirations.
For all that Fulham remain a huge threat going forward; possibly the strongest in the entire division, in the other direction they are probably being made to work much harder than they’d like. The goal they conceded away at Cardiff last time out being the prime example. Mistakes are ultimately being punished with goals conceded, which is understandable given the way Parker wants them to play, and he himself acknowledges that.
West Brom have started the Slaven Bilic era at The Hawthorns is very positive fashion. They have particularly impressed on the road judged by victories at Nottingham Forest and Luton, as well as a draw in Derby. A trip to Craven Cottage is likely to represent their toughest assignment so far, but Bilic himself will be glad of the test to really see where his squad are at right now. They too, like Fulham, should improve as the season goes along having underwent some squad surgery over the summer since the former West Ham boss was appointed.
Focusing on this weekend’s game, the first thing which does jump to mind is goals. I would be surprised if this was to end a low-scoring affair. The only way it does is poor decision making in the final third or inspired goalkeeping. Fulham always play to win in their usual fashion, and playing in that fashion will afford chances to WBA. Fulham only have two clean sheets so far, both at home, but there was some luck attached to that.
Fulham’s home league games have averaged 3.00 goals so far, and it could and should have been higher. Two of West Brom’s three away league clashes ended over 2.5 goals, and again, the other probably should have, too. No team has a higher percentage average than Fulham in the league (63.8%), and they also have the joint-highest average amount of shots on target in the league, as well. Only Leeds have averaged more attempts than West Brom in the division however, and these teams are two of the eight in the Championship to have scored 10+ goals.
I expect an entertaining affair here and Over 2.5 goals will be our selection, knowing both will play to win.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 2.50 at 1.800
QPR v Luton
Queens Park Rangers and Luton have certainly been entertaining to watch in these opening weeks of the new season. QPR have impressed under Mark Warburton, with some of their passing team goals becoming social media sensations, whilst Luton have earned some friends back at this level, with Graeme Jones now starting to get a tune out of his squad.
Firstly, we’ll look at QPR and to me they look to be one of the more improved teams in the league from last season. True, this is only a start, and it will be interesting to see where they are in and around the Christmas period, but there is plenty for Rs supporters to be encouraged about. They head into this weekend’s game after back-to-back league victories, coming from behind on both occasions to win well. The QPR of last season probably would not have managed to do that, certainly not back-to-back when consistency has for so long been an issue. Warburton is well known for his coaching skills and clearly this squad have warmed to him on the training ground.
Luton were most impressive when running away with League One last season, but this was always going to be a tough transition into a higher league. Jones has stepped into the job, his first outright managerial job, and he too has needed a bit of time to understand the players and how to get the best out of them. Like QPR, the Hatters have earned consecutive league wins, with the away triumph at Barnsley seemingly proving a positive turning point for them.
A bit like in the Fulham v West Brom game above, my immediate reaction for QPR against Luton is that this should be an exciting watch. I anticipate an end-to-end encounter, with both pushing for the win. To me, this is the only way both know how to play, certainly to their best possible ability. Luton don’t strike me as the type to travel to Loftus Road and take a point, not from the start anyway.
Five of Luton’s six Championship games so far has beat the 2.5 goal line; averaging 3.30 goals. QPR’s matches only just fall shorter with an average of 3.00 goals, with four of six ended over 2.5. It would be typical for this to end just short, but we’d be unlucky if that was the case!
Only Bristol City have conceded a higher average amount of shots on goal than Luton have, highlighting both their strength and weakness. Only Leeds and West Brom are averaging more attempts than QPR have done, so the numbers back up the likelihood of this being a game between two attack-minded teams.
Over 2.5 goals has to be the way forward on this occasion.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 2.50 at 1.750
Preview by: @JamesOR1.
Now that the international break is finished, it’s game time once again. Who do you think will win in the Championship? Place your bets with VOdds for the best odds and prices.