December 12, 2019

EFL Championship Match Previews – 14th December Saturday

Charlton v Hull

Friday night presents a quick-fire opponents for both Charlton Athletic and Hull City to resume winning ways after the pair suffered defeats on Tuesday night. For Charlton, they suffered late heartache when losing at home to fellow strugglers Huddersfield Town, whilst Hull went down 2-0 at flying Leeds United, which is no disgrace, but a disappointing result nevertheless.

It has been a most testing period for Lee Bowyer and everyone at Charlton. Without a doubt, any side with the mass of injuries that they have had, and still continue to suffer from, will certainly have a detrimental effect on scores and performances. Several younger players have had to be thrown into the spotlight mainly through no other choice.

It is now nine without a win for the Addicks, with seven of them being defeats. They will hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel as star striker Lyle Taylor got more valuable minutes under his belt on Tuesday as he creeps nearer to being fit enough to potentially start a game. They failed to fire a single shot on target against Huddersfield, which at home is just plain not good enough.

Hull are just lacking a bit of consistency in recent times, but that is to be understood considering the calibre of opposition they’ve faced. Over their last six games, they’ve won two, drew one and lost three. Two of those defeats came to Leeds and West Brom, the current top two in the Championship, whilst the other loss came to lowly Barnsley, although anything can happen in a local derby.

It will be a bit of a worry for Grant McCann to see they’ve lost consecutive away games, but surely this is their best chance of any to resume winning ways given Charlton’s struggles. One thing Hull have in their favour is arguably the best player in the division in the form of Jarrod Bowen within their ranks, plus Kamil Grosicki on a going day walks into some Premier League teams. Having this amount of pace helps away from home, which is why they’ve been to the likes of Fulham and Nottingham Forest and left with three points.

This is a crazy league and we can’t totally rule Charlton out, even with injuries, but Hull are the team to side with here. The worry for Charlton is that they’ve been losing a lot of close matches of late and psychologically that will be damaging for them. Hull have scored at least twice in four of their past seven away, whilst Charlton offered very little last time out. A -0.25 handicap on Hull is the way to go.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Hull -0.25 at 1.970

Preston v Luton

One team who desperately needed a result in midweek was Preston North End and they got that when beating Fulham 2-1 at home. This ended a run of four straight losses for Alex Neil’s side. Luton however failed to kick on from their late show win over Wigan when being comprehensively defeated at relegation rivals Stoke. Both enter this with contrasting emotions.

Preston are another side who have suffered with injuries in recent times. They continue to do so and were again without several key men for the Fulham match, with Darnell Fisher, Ben Davies, Daniel Johnson and Paul Gallagher all missing. Patrick Bauer however returned and he definitely made an impact in adding more defensive solidarity to the backline.

Although they did lose four in a row, Neil won’t necessarily have been terribly upset by this fact. It is a results business, as we all know, but Preston really are one of those sides who go through runs; both good and bad. Prior to those four, they had won three in succession. Even last season, at one stage they went ten without a win and followed it with a nine-match unbeaten streak. Another case was going five without success and resolving it by winning eight of the next 11. They’re just one of those teams.

Luton are ‘one of those teams’ too, but not necessarily in a positive way. Yes, they’ve won two of their last four, but they backed up both of those wins by losing 7-0 and 3-0 respectively. Both wins were at home, and both defeats came away. Graeme Jones therefore will be more than aware of the improvements required on the road to make them harder to beat, and a trip to Preston presents them with an almighty challenge.

Jones’ men are shipping an average of 2.55 goals in their Championship away games this season, and in reply they’re averaging just one goal per game. That is a recipe for disaster as they’re just giving themselves far too much to do. It is six straight away games losing, and were outscored 20-3 in that time.

There is no chance whatsoever that we can back Luton in this one. Sometimes you shouldn’t overreact to just one result, but you get the impression that Preston will now go on a run, just as they’re so capable of doing and have proven to do time and again. Preston -0.75 will be the play, as even despite their recent poor form they remain a goal threat at home. Only West Brom have scored more home games than Preston, so we fancy them to make it another bad away day for Luton.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Preston -0.75 at 1.980

Birmingham v West Brom

The Championship card on Saturday begins with a local derby between Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion at St Andrews, with both sides looking to bounce back after dropping points in midweek. Birmingham lost at home to QPR, whilst West Brom drew away at struggling Wigan.

There is no love lost between these two clubs and an intense atmosphere in likely in the stands. Quite often in derby encounters, that can spill onto the pitch with plenty of tackles flying in, meaning there is every chance this could be a stop-start sort of contest. Should that be the case, and I do think it will, then this should be a tight match.

That is despite there being an 18-point difference between Birmingham and West Brom going into this weekend, and the Baggies are already looking pretty comfortable alongside Leeds United in the two automatic promotion places.

Birmingham are struggling for wins at the moment under now permanent Head Coach Pep Clotet. The Blues have only won once in their last seven, and they’re on a three-match winless streak at home. That has to change if Birmingham are to challenge for the play-offs and they most certainly need to do more in attack. They had 16 shots against QPR, but only two on target.

West Brom boss Slaven Bilic elected to rotate his team for the Wigan match on Wednesday, with the Croat having half an eye on their impending Christmas schedule. Hal Robson-Kanu, Grady Diangana and Matheus Pereira were all rested to the bench, so that does at least make them fresher for this encounter. However, Birmingham did exactly the same with Lukas Jutkiewicz.

WBA were well below their usual standards at the DW Stadium and didn’t do anywhere near enough going forward. Wigan were certainly the brighter of the two teams. However, we shouldn’t read too much into one game, as we know crazy things can happen in this division, especially on the midweek card.

We can’t shy away from the numbers and we simply have to play Under 2.5 Goals for this derby game. Birmingham’s home games average only 2.00 goals, whilst it is even fewer for West Brom away. Bilic’s side see the fewest average amount of goals away in the entire league. They will want a reaction from the Wigan match, but they won’t change from their usual away approach. Birmingham are lacking goals right now, whilst WBA are so often secure defensively.

Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Under 2.50 Goals at 1.990

Preview by: @JamesOR1.

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