Cardiff v West Brom
Both Cardiff City and West Bromwich Albion had FA Cup distractions at the weekend but now resume their more important league duties once more. West Brom remain top of the table despite a very clear drop in form, whilst Cardiff are situated in a mid-table position but still only a few wins away from getting back into the promotion picture.
One positive for Cardiff is that Neil Harris has most certainly made them a much harder team to beat. The 6-1 away loss to Queens Park Rangers was something of a fluke, but that remains one of only two league losses since he joined the club after departing Millwall. Furthermore, the Bluebirds haven’t lost at home since Neil Warnock’s final match in charge when losing to rivals Bristol City in November.
Whilst they don’t necessarily lost that many games (only one more than second in the table Leeds), one thing this Cardiff team does a lot is draw. No other team in the Championship has drew more games than they done. To put a percentage on it, Cardiff have drew 42.86% of their league contests so far. This includes each of their last four at home in all competitions, and they’ve lost only once at the Cardiff City Stadium in league action this season. That being said, Cardiff haven’t beaten any current top-half team at home in six attempts.
WBA will have been glad to get away from the hustle and bustle of the league at the weekend when going to Premier League West Ham United. That is because they’ve been having a tough time of things in the Championship, which does seem strange considering they top the table. It is a six-match winless run for Slaven Bilic’s men, but four of those were draws. Their recent display when losing at home to Stoke City was lacklustre by their standards and major improvement is required.
Bilic himself has suggested that the club needs to go into the transfer market. That therefore means he doesn’t have complete faith in his current squad to necessarily turn matters around. Clearly they’re more than capable as they had a six-game winning run which only ended last month. However, now is clearly the best time to be facing West Brom as there is a vulnerability about them.
I do think Cardiff are the value pick here. I’m not prepared to really back West Brom again until they resume winning ways, and a trip to the Welsh capital is always tough, as only Bristol City have left with three points this season. They’ll raise their game for this and WBA will know they’re in for a game.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Cardiff +0.25 at 1.800
Hull v Huddersfield
We have a Yorkshire Derby on our hands at the KCOM Stadium on Tuesday night as Hull City entertain Huddersfield Town. Whilst there was arguably greater pre-season expectation in the camp of recently relegated Huddersfield, it is actually Hull who are ten points better off as things stand. Hull’s agenda is to make the play-offs, whilst for the Terriers it is purely avoiding back-to-back relegations.
It is a testing period for Hull at the moment considering the January transfer window is open and soon to close. Their star man and prized asset Jarrod Bowen has been heavily linked with a move to the Premier League, and the Tigers must decide if they cash in on their soon to be free agent forward, or keep him until the summer and hope he can fire them into the Premier League. He should play this game and that always makes Hull a live threat.
Only Ollie Watkins of Brentford and Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic has more goals than Bowen in the Championship, so Huddersfield boss Danny Cowley knows exactly who they need to keep quiet. Hull do have many other threats however, and Kamil Grosicki headlines those. This duo are Premier League standard and this leaky Huddersfield defence will be tested on a regular basis.
Well we say leaky, but this Huddersfield side kept a clean sheet versus none other than in-form Brentford last time out. The introduction of recent signing Richard Stearman to the back line certainly made a huge impact, whilst other new recruits Andy Kind and Emile Smith-Rowe also had roles to play. Cowley has generally made this team tougher to beat, so this is no routine three points for Hull.
Certainly one area that Cowley will be aiming to improve upon is their offensive outlay. They don’t necessarily create as much, and the numbers are reflecting that. They’re one of only two teams in the league who are averaging fewer than ten attempts on goal per game (the other being Charlton). Only Derby, Middlesbrough and Wigan have scored fewer goals, whilst only four teams have conceded more. Cowley knows where they need to improve, and they’re not without a chance in a one-off derby clash.
Nevertheless, Hull are the team to side with on this occasion. They just have many more weapons in their arsenal and you’d expect them to cause plenty of problems. They faced a strong Chelsea outfit in the FA Cup at the weekend, and they’ll be keen to get back to the bread and butter league action and look to halt their two-game home league losing run. They’re one of the highest home scorers in the league with 21, and that should stand them in good stead.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Hull -0.50 at 2.000
Leeds v Millwall
Leeds United and Millwall is certainly a rivalry where there is little love lost between the two and both outfits will be particularly fired up for this one. Leeds most definitely will be as they’re on a three-match losing run and are keen to get their season back on track in front of their passionate supporters. Opponents always raise their game when Leeds are in the other changing room, and Gary Rowett is on a six-match away league unbeaten run.
There was no FA Cup action for Leeds at the weekend and Marcelo Bielsa will have been quite glad for that. It’ll have given them an opportunity to recharge their batteries and get ready for the next portion of the season, which is often such a defining period, especially when one enters it in poor form. It has been well-documented that Leeds tend to worry around this point, so they are battling some mental demons as well and that is something the opponents will be keen to exploit.
All of a sudden, scoring goals has become a problem for the Whites. Eddie Nketiah has returned to Arsenal after the Premier League side recalled him from his loan, so all of the pressure and weight of expectation is placed upon lone striker Patrick Bamford to deliver the goods. He has proved quite frustrating but he is someone who has always scored goals at this level. Creating chances is no problem, and Bielsa will be hoping their luck in front of goal improves sooner rather than later.
There was no rest for Millwall at the weekend and they were in cup action. The league of course remains their priority and a promotion tilt is certainly not without question. Rowett will be glad for expectations to be generally low from the outside as it offers a release for them, even more so when big underdogs on occasions such as this.
One slight worry for Millwall is that they’ve faced three of the top-five away from home so far and failed to win any, although they did draw at West Brom and they’d gladly take a repeat scoreline here. Quite a defensive approach is anticipated as Millwall have only scored more than once away in the Championship on two occasions, and that included a loss to Brentford. They’ll play a counter attacking style and that’ll suit them just fine.
Quite a tactical match is anticipated here and Under 2.5 Goals does appear to be quite a logical call. Leeds’ recent struggles in front of goal and likely tactics from the away team further enhances such claims. Also, 19 of Leeds’ 28 league games this season saw a maximum of two goals, which puts them bottom of the ‘over 2.5 league table’. Games involving both are averaging around the 2.40 mark, so the percentage call is to favour the under.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Under 2.50 at 1.800