Charlton v Barnsley
Both Charlton Athletic and Barnsley did not have midweek games to worry about, meaning that preparation for this one will have gone as smoothly as possibly could. It is important both had a decent amount of time to get ready for this one, as it is certainly a vitally important Championship fixture for both outfits.
The fact of the matter is that these two foes are battling at the wrong end of the table, an whilst Charlton do have a six-point advantage over the Tykes going into this weekend, that can so easily change come 5pm UK time on Saturday evening. Charlton in fact have had a long time to settle into this one as they weren’t in FA Cup action last weekend, and Barnsley were. Gerhard Struber’s side went down to League One Portsmouth in the cup, which is something of a shock in technical terms but it means they can now focus on league survival.
The first thing which instantly jumps to mind when two fairly evenly matched teams take to the same field is that this could be a tight one. Both will undoubtedly be more than aware of the circumstances in that how key three points could possibly be, and how bad a loss would feel at full time. It is only three points however, and these two tactically aren’t necessarily types to keep things tight. They’ll have a go in this one.
The numbers do generally support the basis of this being quite a high-scoring encounter. That is especially the case when it comes to Barnsley as their Championship fixtures this season are averaging 3.07 goals per game. A big portion of that is down to their bad defensive record, which has seen them ship an average of 1.86 goals per game, but Struber has made them more competitive and certainly more of a danger in attack. That being said, they’re without a goal in their last two league games.
18 of Charlton’s 29 league games this season has witnessed a minimum of three goals, including three of their last four at home. Whilst there is likely to be some nerves on show in this one, this shouldn’t necessarily point to a tactical defensive battle. It will open the door to mistakes. Charlton may be lacking goals recently but Barnsley do concede, and both defences will be tested in this one.
Over 2.5 Goals appear to be the most logical play, and that paid out in the earlier season head-to-head battle. Both teams are struggling to put together victories this season, which is ultimately why they are nearer the bottom than the top, but there is certainly intent there to be positive. Perhaps the most glaring statistic surrounding these two is that of their 58 Championship games combined this season, there has been a total of only 8 clean sheets.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 2.50 at 1.870
Preston v Swansea
This game features two other teams who haven’t had midweek games to be concerned about and whilst the last game included two lowly outfits, this one contains teams involved at the other end. No game for Preston last weekend after being knocked out of the cup, so they’ve had plenty of time to get ready for this. Swansea had a league game at Stoke and went down 2-0, so they’ll be hurting and eager to get back onto the pitch.
The extended break may help Preston in one sense considering they’ve had many injury problems over the season and this mini mid-season break will only help them in that regard. However, they have won their last two matches and will be hoping not to have lost any momentum as a result of extended time on the training ground. We all know that Preston go through patches of form, so that is a bit of a concern.
That being said, they are coming up against a Swansea outfit who haven’t been quite themselves for a few weeks now. Steve Cooper, in his first season in senior management, has seen the Swans win just one of their last four in all competitions, which includes a 5-1 away loss to Queens Park Rangers, which ended their FA Cup dream. They’re winless in their last four away, after initially holding the longest unbeaten away record in the EFL this season. It is one win in their last eight away, in fact.
The fact of the matter is that Preston are quite something when playing at Deepdale. They hold the best home record in the division, and this is where they’ve earned 32 of their 46 points this season, and scored 31 of their 42 goals, too. It therefore may come as a surprise to see they’ve lost three of their last four at home in all competitions, including an FA Cup setback to Premier League Norwich City. As mentioned, they do go on runs, both good and bad, and they beat Charlton at home last time out.
This is not anticipated to be a game where either side necessarily wins convincingly. Seven of Preston’s 13 Championship wins this season have come by a one-goal margin, whilst nine of Swansea’s 12 victories has also been the same. Both teams generally have what it takes to edge matches of this nature, so it is likely to be a tactical battle in some senses. The perception is that Swansea heavily dominate possession, but they only average a percentage or two higher than Preston, so that won’t really swing this either way.
Preston -0.25 has to be a worthy consideration given that they are quite something at home and the numbers do reflect that. Swansea are struggling on the road and by-and-large they’re not at a level of which they were earlier in the campaign. Preston are the team to side with on this occasion.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Preston -0.25 at 1.900
QPR v Bristol City
Queens Park Rangers again failed to produce back-to-back victories when falling to defeat at Blackburn Rovers in midweek. Mark Warburton will be ruing the inability of his side to put results together as that is ultimately why they find themselves in a mid-table position. For all that on their day they can beat anyone, they clearly don’t have enough of those days.
Bristol City are another side who have been labelled quite inconsistent before, but the difference between them and QPR is that the Robins are actually doing the business at the moment. Manager Lee Johnson can’t ask for much more than a run of three Championship wins in a row, and three of their last four in league action.
Something in favour of QPR is that they do tend to reserve their better performances and result for when playing at Loftus Road. They are a team that can really get ahead of steam at home when in full rhythm. A recent home win over Leeds United accounts for that, as does heavy victories over Welsh duo Cardiff City and Swansea City in January. Nevertheless, a 6-4-5 and five home record still suggests some limitations.
Bristol City actually possess one of the strongest away records in the division. In fact, only West Bromwich Albion, Leeds and Nottingham Forest have more points on the road in this league heading into this latest round of fixtures. They are clearly doing something right, and back-to-back away clean sheets has gone a long way to helping them win again. Their away league contests this season are averaging 3.00 goals, so this could be another high-scoring affair especially considering how QPR play.
There has been an average of 3.73 goals in QPR’s Championship home fixtures so far, and that really does highlight how they play the game. For all that they look a constant live threat in attack, defensively they are going to be vulnerable and they are setting themselves the task of trying to outscore opponents. When facing a Bristol City side that is starting to put some clean sheets together then it further highlights the importance of the first goal in this particular encounter.
Whilst I’ve made a good case for goals, there is a better value call I like and that is Bristol City +0.5. The price on them purely to avoid defeat is better than it should be, and it doesn’t take into account how inconsistent QPR currently are, and how consistent Bristol City are right now. They are a safer call and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them win outright, but an away draw at Loftus Road is never a bad outcome, either.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Bristol City +0.50 at 1.860