Wigan v Birmingham
It was similar emotions for these two teams over the weekend in the Championship. The only good thing about Wigan losing away at Fulham was that it was at least played on Friday night, giving them extra time to prepare for this game. Also, the club paid for them to stay overnight rather than returning home in the early hours. Little things like that are all part of the preparation and could be a small but telling factor on Tuesday night. Birmingham lost away at Derby, having initially coming from 2-0 down.
The deep reality is that Wigan aren’t really going to be judged on how they perform against teams such as Fulham, who are widely tipped to contest promotion. One loss in four is ultimately good for a club such as Wigan, who are looking to establish themselves at this level having avoided relegation last season.
The main issue for Wigan is the distinct lack of goals. You suspect Paul Cook might recall Joe Garner into the starting eleven for this game, whilst Gavin Massey is almost certain for a recall. They’re just lacking end product, which is never easily replaced, but they always say ‘as long as you’re creating chances, they will come’. Can Wigan really say that? Not really, as they’re only averaging 10.4 shots per game, which is one of the lowest in the league. They’ve only scored eight in those nine matches.
Birmingham have hit a bit of a slump themselves after initially starting to season with some promise. Pep Clotet is going through a phase of making changes to his starting eleven, suggesting he isn’t quite sure of his best team. That ultimately means results will be quite up-and-down for a period. They had won back-to-back games, but have now endured back-to-back losses.
Just like Wigan, the Blues are having issues in front of goal. They’re averaging only 9.8 shots on goal, which simply isn’t enough over a sustained period of time to be considered a threat in front of goal. They do possess a lot of creative players in the side, but there is such a big reliance on Lukas Jutkiewicz to deliver the goods. Birmingham are arguably playing a style which doesn’t bring the best out of him.
Considering both are really struggling for goals, I can only tip under 2.5 goals on this occasion. League games involving these two are averaging 2.60 and 2.30 respectively so this really shouldn’t be a goal fest.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Under 2.50 goals at 1.660<
Stoke v Huddersfield
Some will argue that this is the standout game of the Championship season so far, in the sense that the bottom-two and only winless clubs in the league collide on Wednesday night. Although it is effectively only one game, you just know both will go into it knowing the importance of a win, and how costly a loss could be.
That is certainly in the case of Stoke, with manager Nathan Jones seemingly hanging on by a thread in the job. It was suggested in some media reports that the Nottingham Forest game was his last chance, and they lost that. Still, no word from the club over a change, and I think that is the right call. I will put it on record that Jones has been very unlucky, and individual errors have been so costly to them.
He however himself will know that this is a results based business, and defeat in this home game would almost certainly see him lose his job, maybe even a draw. They need a win and they just need to cut out the errors. Jack Butland could potentially be dropped after another mistake on Friday night, and Jones does at least have options within his squad. For all that they are making mistakes, they aren’t scoring enough either.
Nine goals in nine games is not enough for a team with as much individual offensive ability as they’ve got. They’re creating an average of 12.5 shots per game, which is about middle of the road in relation to the rest of the league. They’re shipping goals at an alarming rate, and a clean sheet may seem a long way off in the eyes of their fans. They badly need one.
Huddersfield may feel as though Saturday’s home game with Millwall was must-win in a sense. With respect to Millwall, that was an opportunity to get their first win of the campaign under their belts, so a draw may be viewed as a disappointment. However, it is a point on the board under Danny Cowley and something to build upon.
Scoring goals has been their problem as well, only eight in their case. Three of those came within the last two under Cowley, and they are improving with their general outlay in terms of creation. Plenty of work needs to be done defensively, but adding free agent Danny Simpson can only be seen as a positive considering the experience he offers from a higher level.
Huddersfield have been a little too easy to play against this season and the numbers suggest that they have been a bit of a soft touch. They’re conceding an average of 15.3 shots per game in the league, which is too many, as there are some top teams in this league who will score a goal or two if offered that much opportunity.
A bit like the game above, this is another game of two teams who don’t score many, and I again have no alternative back to back under 2.5 goals. There is a lot at stake here and both could be worried about making mistakes, leading to a tight and timid battle.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Under 2.50 goals at 1.730
Cardiff v QPR
Neil Warnock’s Cardiff City are enduring something of a frustrating run of results at the moment. They’ve drew four league games all season, but all of them came within their last five. In one respect, they’re unbeaten in their last six Championship games but they’re ultimately not picking up any momentum right now.
QPR lost their momentum at the weekend when deservedly going down at home to West Brom, who produced a very professional away display. Following the game, Mark Warburton stated that he felt his players showed the opposition too much respect, and those comments were more than fair. They never looked like scoring and were second best in all departments. The U’s boss will look to rally his troops for the trip to Wales, and he’ll be glad they only have to wait a few days to get back out onto the pitch.
Cardiff are drawing a lot as I mentioned, but the away draw at Hull on Saturday will probably have felt like a win. They conceded in the 89th minute to fall 2-1 behind, only to then equalise in the second minute of added time. The Bluebirds will look to carry on the sort of momentum they’ll be hoping QPR have lost. Little factors like this could be telling.
What will have frustrating Cardiff more than anything this season is only two clean sheets. If you want to be a success at this level then you must be hard to beat at the back, and nobody knows that more than Warnock. He has a more than solid central defensive pairing in Sean Morrison and Aden Flint, plus Sol Bamba is not far away from a return to fitness.
Robert Glatzel has at least found his scoring boots by netting two in his last two appearances. He is bound to be full of confidence right now and Warnock will look to get his creative players to serve him the ball in the box at every possible opportunity. Cardiff have failed to score in 3/9, which perhaps reflects their inconsistency this season.
QPR won’t overreact to one bad result on Saturday. It did come against an unbeaten West Brom side, plus QPR were on a four-game winning streak prior to that. They’re obviously doing something right, and now the key is returning to those levels. What you can be sure of is that they’ll travel to Cardiff looking to win, they are not the sort of outfit to shut up shop and settle for a point. Cardiff can have difficulties over opponents of this nature, especially at home when there is pressure on themselves to be positive and try and dictate play.
With that in mind, plus Cardiff also going to go full tilt for the win, I can see this being quite an open game with chances at either end. It is a big pitch at Cardiff and that will suit QPR when they get into their flow. Six of QPR’s nine league games beat the 2.5 goal line, and I am backing over 2.5 goals on this occasion. Cardiff have now scored for four games running after failing to net in the two prior to that.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 2.50 at 1.850
Preview by: @JamesOR1.