Brentford v Hull City
Brentford recorded a fine 1-0 away win at Middlesbrough last weekend and they’ll very much be hoping that gets their season up and running. They were most unfortunate to lose on the opening day to Birmingham City, and with the transfer window closed, Thomas Frank can now finally hope to see things settle down. Whilst they’ve lost the likes of Maupay, he still has Benrahma and Watkins at the club, so going forward they retain a big threat.
Their home form is going to be a key part of any potential success they have this season. Ironically they struggled on the road last season, so winning at The Riverside was big for them, but they’ll expect three points versus The Tigers on Saturday. Only promoted duo Norwich City and Sheffield United claimed more points on home soil than Brentford did in the 2018/19 campaign, being only one of four clubs to net 50+ goals.
Hull also got amongst the winning trend last time out when defeating Reading at home. Although they led 2-0, they were quite fortunate to hold on as The Royals threw everything at their opponents in that second half and did hit the bar very late on. Grant McCann is still adjusting to life at a new club and in a new division for him, a flurry of recent signings added depth, but they’ll need time to glue together.
Something of a concern for McCann will be the amount of chances they are conceding across their opening two league contests. Only Luton have witnessed more shots against them than Hull over the first two Championship weekends, and travelling to a Brentford side that can really click into gear at any given moment means a long afternoon may await. Brentford will surely be back among the goals again themselves, assuming they can score early enough. The Bees defeated Hull 5-1 the last time they met in February.
I’m slightly reserved about going all-out on Brentford to win on a handicap line as games at Griffin Park tend to be open, so they may concede, plus Hull always retain a threat with Bowen and Grosicki within their ranks.
Over 2.5 goals is the play considering Brentford will be eager to make a statement at home, and whilst Hull conceding chances will only play to the host’s advantage, games at this venue often turn end-to-end and it could so easily rain goals.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 2.50 at 1.699
Nottingham Forest v Birmingham City
Like so many clubs in the Championship, Nottingham Forest are also experiencing a period where many new faces are looking to settle into new surroundings. It is turning into quite a common theme with Forest, especially given how often they change managers, who of course have their own ideas. Sabri Lamouchi has overseen two tight games so far in terms of score, and whilst they probably should have lost last time out, an away draw at Leeds is certainly a good outcome and one they can gain confidence from.
The City Ground also needs to be a stadium where Nottingham Forest are very hard to beat. A little bit like Brentford, Forest too struggled on the road last season and had to try and make up for that with some very strong home form. They’ll be hurting to have lost to West Brom first time up, so they’ll be eager to make up for that on Saturday. Forest fired 15 shots on goal in that match, so they were probably a little unlucky to have lost.
Birmingham have won one and drew one from their first two league contests, but they most definitely should have lost to Brentford on the opening day, whilst Bristol City gave them a good game last weekend, too. Pep Clotet is another new boss in the league and he is trying to oversee quite a drastic change in terms of tactics and playing style. That will definitely take time, and factoring in alongside a handful of new signings, he’ll be happy with four points out of a possible six so far.
It is tough to look too far back in terms of past trends for these sides given how much change they experienced in the off-season, and continuing to do so now. We only have the first two games to go from, but there are areas we can draw from. Birmingham have only achieved an average of two shots on target across the two matches, so they’ve done well to have scored one goal in each of them. Nottingham Forest has achieved only slightly more with 2.5, but they’ve averaged 3.5 more shots compared to The Blues.
With both clubs very much still trying to find their feet then I think the slightly safer call is to back Under 2.5 goals. I am normally quite resistant to back against goals in an often unpredictable and crazy league like the Championship, but the numbers are suggesting that we’d be quite unlucky to lose out on this selection.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Under 2.50 at 1.810
Wigan Athletic v Leeds United
It was a great start to the season from Wigan when defeating Cardiff on the opening day, but they have since followed that up with back-to-back losses versus rivals Preston and out of form Stoke in the league and cup respectively. It could therefore be argued that facing an in-form Leeds side is the last thing they want right now. However, they’ve been known to raise their game against the bigger clubs, especially on home soil. They defeated West Brom, Aston Villa and Bristol City at the DW last season.
Leeds have already shown in the early part of this campaign exactly why they are many peoples favourite to finally win promotion back into the Premier League. For all that their play-off tussles with Derby County did not go as they’d have wanted, the Whites have carried on their strong performances into this season. An impressive away triumph at Bristol City set the tone, and they were unlucky to only draw with Nottingham Forest at the weekend. A rotated team avoided a cup upset at Salford on Tuesday, so spirits are high.
There is some subtext to this game which affords some additional motivation from Saturday’s away team. Leeds suffered a shock home loss to Wigan towards the end of last season, a result which put a severe dent in what was then an automatic promotion tilt. It was a real smash and grab display from Paul Cook’s men, and I just wonder if they are now set to feel a real backlash from the Elland Road club.
There’s every chance that could be the case. Leeds have fired 33 shots on goal across their two opening Championship contests, which is the highest of any team so far. 19 of those came from inside the penalty area; the joint-most in the division, too. Their intricate style of play is likely to cause some pretty big issues for Wigan, who have conceded an average of 14.5 shots across their two league encounters, a number fewer than only four other clubs.
It is ultimately games such as this where Leeds tended to slip up last season. Seven of their 13 losses came against teams in the bottom half, five away from home. If they replicate their display from the opening weekend at Bristol City then they will win quite convincingly. They will create chances, whilst Wigan have shown that defensively they have questions to answer.
Leeds -0.5 is a confident selection for Saturday afternoon’s battle. Quite simply, Leeds are the much stronger of the two teams and that should be reflected in the final league tables in May. Anything can happen in a one-off match, but Leeds firmly remember their loss to Wigan at Elland Road last season and are eager to put things right.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Leeds -0.50 at 1.910
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