Wigan v Swansea
Saturday lunchtime presents us with an intriguing televised Championship encounter between Wigan Athletic and Swansea City. A good performance from Wigan was denied a fine away victory at Bristol City on Sunday when conceding late to draw, whilst Swansea won their arch-rivalry battle with Cardiff City by a 1-0 score.
Having seen Wigan’s last game I do have some sympathy with them. One thing they have found hard since coming back into this league is to win away from home, and they were minutes away from a rare road success last weekend. However, they’re at least more than solid at home, and no opponent enjoys coming to the DW Stadium.
Only Leeds and Sheffield United have left Wigan with three points in the 2019 calendar year and they’re on a three-game winning streak in front of their own fans, whilst not conceding in the past four. They generally play the same at home as they do away, and that is probably why they struggle on the road as they’re so much on the front foot, it costs them at the back.
Swansea deservedly got the win in the South Wales Derby and 1-0 doesn’t really tell the whole story as they were much more dominant than that. It still doesn’t hide from the fact they’re over-performing this season considering they enter the weekend in fourth place, whilst the Expected Goals (xg) count places them in ninth. Only four other teams in the league have had more shots on goal than the Swans, but they’ll face a Wigan backline which doesn’t concede much on home soil.
Something I am wary of is the fact Swansea are quite inconsistent away from home. They actually haven’t lost away this season in the league, and have been to Leeds and won. They will come under periods of pressure in this one as Wigan play an aggressive style that leads to chances created. The key is if Swansea can get through these spells unscathed. Wigan enjoy their battles against the bigger clubs at home and have had some scalps over the last few years.
Wigan 0.25 on the Asian Handicap will be the play considering their strong home record. Recent performances have been very encouraging from Paul Cook’s side, and whilst they’re inconsistent in general, they’re usually consistent at home.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Wigan 0.25 at 1.790
Derby v Middlesbrough
Inconsistent Derby County entertain an out of sorts Middlesbrough this weekend with both sides badly underperforming this season. Each find themselves in the bottom-half of the Championship table after 14 games, winning only six times combined. A lack of back-to-back wins is costing Derby, whilst Boro are ultimately lacking goals. This is a big game on Saturday with the international break not too far away.
I say Middlesbrough aren’t scoring enough goals, well Derby are looking a little toothless in the final third themselves. They’re only averaging 10.4 shots per game in the league this season, with only Charlton and Huddersfield achieving fewer. Phillip Cocu therefore must find a way to get the Rams in the final third more frequently, and so they’re not afraid to shoot.
Derby play quite a nice and tidy, typical Dutch style of play and this has led to big frustration from the fans. They’ve lacked a tempo at times, and it is only when they have done when the opposition start to look more rattled. Some comfort however comes from the fact they’ve won three straight home games, and are unbeaten in five at Pride Park.
Middlesbrough actually average more shots on goal in comparison to Derby, but they’re the lowest-scorers in the Championship. More goals have been scored away from home, but it is worth remembering that three of their 11 goals came in the same game, on the opening day versus Luton. They’ve not found the back of the net for three games running.
With two out of form sides collided, both will view this as a winnable game. However, they’ll also be wary of a defeat, with both managers under a degree of pressure considering the lack of victories. Under 2.5 Goals simply has to be the play given the fact neither side are creating a great deal in front of goal. Middlesbrough don’t concede that many either, so fine margins are going against them, whilst Derby back-to-back home clean sheets, as well.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Under 2.50 goals at 1.880
Stoke v West Brom
Stoke City appear to have slipped back into old habits following consecutive defeats to Sheffield Wednesday and Millwall, failing to score in them both. This comes after winning the two games prior to that, which came against likely promotion contenders Swansea and Fulham. They aim to get back on track when another top of the table candidate West Brom visit the bet365 Stadium. WBA have lost once all season, but have drew their last two, which were both at home to beatable opposition.
Much has been said about the fact that Stoke have been unlucky for the majority of the season. That is fair on the basis of them having a high Expected Goal (xG) count, meaning they’ve been creating the chances but just not taking them, whilst giving very few away at the back, as well. However, they put in a more than timid display at Millwall last weekend, versus their former boss Gary Rowett. They never really looked like scoring, which was the major concern.
The problem is that they now face a West Brom side who score goals for fun. The Baggies have 26 goals to their name, and whilst they’ve also shipped 17, the fact they’ve only lost the once, which was away to Leeds, just proves that they are anything but a soft touch. WBA actually have a greater xG figure compared to Stoke, so they too are used to creating big chances, but the difference is that they regularly take them.
WBA average just shy of 15 shots on goal per Championship game, which is quite a staggering amount. Stoke’s figures are roughly middle of the road for the league, but they’ve lacked end product for the majority of the campaign. Stoke may have defeated Fulham in their last home game, but that’s their only home success of the campaign, with their previous home win before that coming in March.
Stoke will be up for this, and nothing surprises me in this league in the slightest, but we have to back West Brom for the win here. They’re a much greater goal threat and ultimately have that killer touch which is why 19-points separates both of these clubs heading into the weekend.
1×2 Betting Recommendation: West Brom to WIN at 2.300
Preview by: @JamesOR1