Brentford v Reading
With the international break finally out of the window, the Championship makes a triumphant return with an attractive weekend fixture card. Brentford versus Reading is certainly a game which promises of much, and there is every reason to expect that it will deliver.
After an indifferent start, Brentford are now starting to climb the league ladder on a count of four wins from their last five, whilst scoring at least three goals in each of those victories. Scoring goals was surprisingly a problem in the opening few months but Thomas Frank’s side have since resolved those issues.
As for Reading, they too started poorly under Jose Gomes and he ultimately paid the price with his job. Mark Bowen was the somewhat surprising choice in one sense to replace him, but he has proved to be a shrewd appointment as things stand. The Royals are unbeaten in four under his tenure, winning three of those.
A trip to Brentford arguably presents Bowen with his toughest assignment in the Reading dugout so far, but they’ve already been to QPR and come away with a good point, so they travel in high spirits rather than fear. Brentford suffered a 1-0 home loss to Huddersfield in their last game, despite dominating possession and chances, only to be done on the counter attack, which affords hope for Reading with regards to their potential game plan.
This is a game which does immediately signal the likelihood of goals, and Over 2.5 goals has to be our play. Why? Well, the numbers might not back that up over the course of the season in the sense that Brentford’s Championship games are averaging roughly 2.10, but four of their last five has featured at least three goals, so now they’re taking their chances we should expect more goals when Brentford are involved.
Reading have looked much more lively in attack under Bowen, with the recalled Sam Baldock, who was out of favour under Gomes, making a impact in the final third with two goals in his last three appearances. Both teams are also averaging over 13 shots per game, so goals really should be on the agenda.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 2.50 goals at 1.880
Luton v Leeds
We mentioned above how the fixture list this weekend has plenty of standout games but arguably Luton Town against Leeds United is the number one pick in the eyes of many. The international break probably came at a good time for Luton, whilst Leeds will be aiming to continue their good run of form when travelling to Kenilworth Road on Saturday.
Graeme Jones is in his first outright managerial role and whilst he knew it would be a big task this season, recent results suggest it will probably be an even bigger job than he anticipated. After winning promotion in such entertaining style, Luton do remain entertaining this season in one respect, but not necessarily in the way they’d like.
That is in the sense of games involving Luton generally containing plenty of goals. 13 of their 16 Championship encounters this season has featured at least three goals, which is more than any other side at this level. However, of those 16, they’ve only won four, the last of which came at home to in-form Bristol City last month.
Leeds are going about their business nicely enough under Marcelo Bielsa, but the Argentinian himself will still acknowledge that there is still plenty of room for improvement. Leeds have had by far the most shots on goal of any team in the Championship so far (262), and whilst 21 goals scored isn’t terrible, it could and should be higher.
Luton actually have scored more than Leeds, albeit one, whilst Preston in second place have ten more goals than Bielsa’s men. Losing Eddie Nketiah to injury recently isn’t likely to boost that, even if he has been a regular substitute, so Patrick Bamford will have to take on extra responsibility. He has five goals to his name already.
Surprisingly, Leeds has only seen 4/16 of their league fixtures this season finish over 2.5 goals. However, Luton is much, much higher and normally when it is a high-scoring versus a low-scoring team taking to the field, I generally favour the overs. The reason being is that Luton clearly play quite openly, and Leeds will surely thrive on that, even if defensively they’ll come under some pressure. I don’t feel comfortable going under 2.5 on a Luton game, so I have to go Over 2.5!
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Under 2.50 goals at 2.240
Stoke City v Wigan Athletic
Doom and gloom had certainly set into the environment at the bet365 Stadium, the home of Stoke City Football Club for Stoke City v Wigan Athletic, but the arrival of Michael O’Neill to the dugout brought about an instantly transformation when despatching Barnsley 4-2 in a bottom of the table encounter last time out. He’ll be eager to back that up at home to a Wigan side who don’t travel too well.
Wigan probably have deserved more from some of their away assignments this season, and for all they remain without an away win this season, draws at Bristol City and Hull City on paper are good results. Still, Paul Cook knows that their away record is ultimately why they struggled last season and are this, as at home they’re generally quite reliable.
Even last season, Wigan won only two away games, meaning they’re haven’t won away in the Championship since April, when winning at Elland Road of all places. They travel to Stoke certainly knowing that they can win, as they’re above them in the table and four points better off, but Stoke will look a different animal.
Their tails are certainly up and O’Neill undoubtedly has brought a fresh set of ideas that the team has embraced. They went back to basics in the Barnsley match in terms of system and players playing in their preferred roles, whilst Ryan Woods was brought in from the cold to make a rare appearance.
A few weeks ago, we certainly wouldn’t have been too bullish about the prospects of Stoke winning this game, regardless of Wigan’s away form. Everything just seemed like hard work, whilst in the Barnsley game things came more naturally to them. Scoring from near the halfway line was the perfect start and they certainly kicked on from that!
What we cannot really get away from is that dreadful record on the road from Wigan. For all that they do put in performances, ultimately they aren’t getting rewarded enough for us to be too confident of earning a rare away day win. Remember that Stoke did beat Fulham when Nathan Jones was still in charge only last month, but the crowd will be more upbeat for this one with O’Neill taking charge of his first home encounter.
I’ll side with Stoke to win on the 1×2 line as I just feel now is the time to have them on side. The new manager bounce is having some effect, but with the squad they’ve got they shouldn’t be anywhere near the bottom of this table, and man-for-man they have more weapons than Wigan, who clearly have a soft underbelly on the road.
1×2 Betting Recommendation: Stoke to WIN at 1.880
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