Charlton v West Brom
Charlton Athletic and West Bromwich Albion are back in Championship action on Saturday after a brief hiatus into the FA Cup last weekend. Focusing on league action, the Addicks are on a poor run of form over a more extended period than WBA, who themselves are without victory in their last four league attempts. The pair did meet in the FA Cup last Sunday, with both fielding very different XI’s to what will feature in this particular meeting.
When talking about Charlton then inevitably the injury situation does have to be mentioned. Clearly they are struggling, as would any side at any level who suffered that amount of setbacks. Lee Bowyer can only do so much, but he’ll at least be glad to have the January transfer window opened so he can add more fresh faces. Andre Green has already been added on a temporary deal from Aston Villa.
The fact of the matter is that Charlton just aren’t winning games anymore. Consistency is no longer their friend and they find themselves in a bit of a rut. It is just one win in their last 15 league fixtures, nine of which has ended in defeat. Whilst they won their last home game versus Bristol City, they had to do it the hard way when coming from 2-1 down late on, but as mentioned, consistency is a problem so they may not back that up.
West Brom are in their first sticky patch of the campaign, and whilst Slaven Bilic will naturally be concerned, along with some supporters, it is important to stress that teams do just experience such runs. Whilst they’re four without a win, that did include games against Leeds and Brentford, as well as Middlesbrough and Barnsley, two teams who have improved in recent times.
Confidence won’t really have been dented within the Baggies ranks however, but they’ll probably be glad to be away from home to reduce the pressure slightly. There is still an expectation on them to win this game given Charlton are in worse form and have countless injuries, but West Brom do travel safe in the knowledge that they have the best away record in the division, losing only once on the road.
The fact West Brom are fairly short odds-on shots for this game doesn’t sit right with me, as no team should really be that price on the day in this crazy league. The goals angle is one I’ll play and that is Under 2.5 Goals. Ten of West Brom’s 13 away league games has finished under, which highlights the difference to how they play at home, where the average is just below four. WBA make go back to basics to a degree to resume winning ways, whilst Charlton may actually approach this more like the away side and patience will be key for them.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Under 2.50 at 2.200
Stoke v Millwall
The first name which naturally comes to find when thinking of this game is Gary Rowett, the current Millwall and former Stoke manager. He will of course be in the dugout on this occasion, in what will be his first return to the bet365 Stadium since losing his job with the Potters back in January last year.
Rowett however has not looked back and after around ten months out of the game he returned to the league he knows so well in October and has certainly transformed Millwall in a considerable way. Whilst he and others could deny it, Millwall do look to be in the promotion race with them sitting just outside the play-off positions. He’s lost only two of his 14 matches at the helm.
Will Rowett have added motivation for this game? Not necessarily. Nevertheless, he may be in for a warm reception and his current players have warmed to him, and they’ll be eager to keep the home crowd quiet. Perhaps most impressively, one aspect Rowett has improved with the club is their away record. It had been nothing short of terrible for many months, but they’re now unbeaten in five on the road, winning three.
Stoke have showcased some improvements of their own of late. They come in the form of a heavy win at Huddersfield Town before their FA Cup exit to Brentford last weekend, whilst they produced a late show to defeat Sheffield Wednesday in their last home fixture. Perhaps the concern for Michael O’Neill is they’re yet to win back-to-back under his tenure, with a lack of consistency why they’re struggling this season.
They did win their last league game of course, so they have an opportunity here, although Millwall are no pushovers. Stoke are at least starting to make the bet365 Stadium a tough place to come for opponents once again. Over their last seven league matches here, they’ve won four and drew one, which includes beating the likes of Fulham, too. Millwall offer a unique examination however, and Stoke will need to be close to their most effective best.
My worry for Stoke is the mentioned lack of consistency and I do just wonder if they can put in back-to-back performances. They are favourites to win this game given they’ve got home advantage, but the flip side is that all the value is on Millwall here, who as mentioned are tough to defeat these days. Millwall +0.5 is probably a bigger price than it should, and they’re in a good place having won their last three, even if all were at home.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Millwall +0.50 at 1.830
Cardiff v Swansea
We do have a slightly longer wait to watch this encounter as the South Wales derby is our Sunday viewing in the Championship. It is a contest where there is little love between the two and another typically competitive local rivalry clash is anticipated once more.
Neil Harris had an immediate impact when he was named as the slightly surprising choice to replace Neil Warnock at the Cardiff City Stadium job. It is now however just one win in their last seven in all competitions for the Bluebirds, so this derby maybe has come at a worse time in one regard, but form is not always so relevant when derbies are concerned.
They do however remain tough to defeat at home, and Harris is yet to lose here as Cardiff boss. They’ve drew their last three in front of their own supporters however, which is a frustration. Only Bristol City has departed with three points in league action however, so Swansea will need a strong display to become the second.
The Swans are of course capable of doing so, especially as they’re not starting to turn things around after enduring a tricky run of results. It was six without success for Steve Cooper’s men between mid-November to mid-December, but they’ve won three of their last five in the league, losing just the one. They should at least feel a bit more like their earlier season selves.
Swansea did hold the longest unbeaten away record in the entire EFL as recently as last month, but West Brom ended that. They’ve also been to Brentford on Boxing Day and lost, so they do have something to prove on the road again in that regard. A recent narrow success at Luton proves that they can get the job done, and they’d gladly accept a similar outcome on Sunday.
This game remains something of an occasion as the South Wales derby hasn’t been a regular match over the years. Swansea won the earlier season contest 1-0 at the Liberty Stadium, which was the first meeting of the duo since 2014. This really is a big deal in Welsh football and nerves could play a part, not just on the pitch but also the stands. This is more likely to be a tactical contest where little risk is taken compared to say a usual Championship clash.
I do think Under 2.5 Goals is the safe way to go in this one. Four of the last five head-to-head battles featured one goal or less, which again highlights the occasion aspect of this. A more present day relation statistic is that Swansea’s away league games average exactly 2.5 goals, whilst it is slightly lower for Cardiff’s home league contests.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Under 2.50 at 1.990
Preview by: @JamesOR1.
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