The Football League Championship is back this weekend! Our tipster takes a look at all the action coming your way from Friday.
The International break has come and gone which means only one thing for Championship fans: we can all get back to punting on one of the most exciting leagues in world football!
There are a number of tasty looking fixtures coming your way this weekend with the pick of the round’s ties sees table-topping Huddersfield Town taking on Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday.
Friday 14 October
Cardiff 18/10 | Draw 22/10 | Bristol 15/10
Cardiff City find themselves in all sorts of trouble after 11 games of the 2016/17 season. Two wins and two draws sees the Bluebirds – who were tipped by many prior to the start of the season to be promotion pushers – languishing in 23rd place claiming just eight points.
They have a chance at redemption now under new manager Neil Warnock, who worked wonders with Rotherham United last season. He’ll need to hit the ground running against a Bristol City side that has won their last three matches in the division and look like they could sneak a promotion place come the business end of the season.
Bristol have been one of the surprise packages of the current season and appear to be flourishing under the tutelage of Lee Johnson – one of a number of top class British managers who are emerging from the English lower leagues. They’ve only lost once in their last nine league matches and look as good on the road as they do at Ashton Gate. I’m a bit nervy of tipping a side playing against Neil Warnock – he gets the absolute best out of his players no matter their ability. As such, take Bristol on the Double Chance + Both Teams To Score at 29/20.
Nottingham Forest 13/10 | Draw 23/10 | Birmingham 2/1
Nottingham Forest have been on a dire run of form lately. Three draws and three losses in their last six games has pretty much wiped out their bright start to the season. Dropping points from winning position seems to be Forest’s Achilles heel at the minute. As such was evident last time out against Bristol where goals from Tammy Abraham and Jamie Paterson wiped out Apostolos Vellios’ first half strike. The pressure is building on Philippe Montanier, he’ll be desperate for a home win to stop the rot.
Birmingham City are one of the league’s form sides at the moment – I can’t for the life of me understand how you can get them at 2/1 at the moment. Clayton Donaldson has relished the first team opportunities offered to him by Gary Rowett having found the net four times this season already. Both sides have a penchant for conceding. Take Both Teams To Score at 7/10 here.
Saturday 15 October
Newcastle 5/10 | Draw 32/10 | Brentford 5/1
We open up Saturday’s proceedings with a tricky looking tie for Rafa Benitez and his team. Newcastle have shown signs of weakness in recent weeks, conceding at inopportune times to drop points. The last thing the giants from the north need is for more points to be dropped at home against a team who are supposedly in disarray behind the scenes.
Brentford come into this match as the surprise package of the season thus far. Nobody gave them a hope in hell pre-season and many tipped them to be battling relegation. Scott Hogan has been a revelation for the Bees this season. The former Rochdale man has found the back of the net on seven occasions this season, earning himself the SkyBet Championship Player of the Month for September.
While Newcastle should win this game with such a strong squad, it’s impossible to ignore Brentford as a threat. This looks another great candidate for Both Teams To Score, and at 17/20 it’s one for the weekend multiples.
Blackburn 14/10 | Draw 21/10 | Ipswich 2/1
While wins against Derby County and Rotherham United gave Rovers fans reason to smile in September, subsequent back-to-back losses against Sheffield Wednesday and Birmingham City has seen the panic creep back in.
Relegation to League 1 would prove disastrous for a club Blackburn’s size. Owen Coyle is skating on thin ice at the moment and needs to turn things around ASAP or he could face yet another ignominious sacking.
Luckily for Blackburn, they’ll welcome an equally out of sorts Ipswich Town to Ewood Park this weekend. One win in six simply isn’t good enough for a team that really should be competing in the top half of the table. They were incredibly flat against Leeds last time out and needed Bartosz Bialkowski to be at his very best to keep the scoreline at a respectable 1-0. Tipping these games is never easy. Both sides have been poor of late. That said, I think that Blackburn may just have the edge playing at home. Back them at 14/10.
Norwich City 7/20 | Draw 39/10 | Rotherham 7/1
Norwich are probably the form team in the division at the moment and are my favourites to win the league. Five wins from their last six games have seen them consolidate their grip on second place as well as seeing manager, Alex Neil, claim the SkyBet Manager of the Month award.
The Canneries go up against Rotherham United who look dead and buried barely a quarter of the way into the season. Four consecutive losses has left the Millers rooted to the foot of the table with very little hope of survival. Their threadbare squad simply can’t compete at this level, let alone against the best team in the division at the moment. Take the home team on the -1 Handicap at 9/10.
Barnsley 33/20 | Draw 23/10| Fulham 31/20
Barnsley are another side who have just started to wobble after showing promise early on in the season. Three wins and a draw in their last four games has seen the Tykes slip down the standings into 10th place. Luckily for them they’ll get the opportunity to turn things around against a Fulham side who have been dire over the last month or so.
Three draws and three losses from six matches simply isn’t good enough for a side who need to be competing for promotion. What’s more, the Cottagers haven’t been stumbling against the crème de la crème of the league, they’ve been struggling against the likes of Bristol, Nottingham Forest, QPR and Burton Albion. I can’t for the life of me separate these two teams. So I’m happy tipping the draw here at 23/10.
Derby County 8/10 | Draw 24/10 | Leeds 36/10
Derby County have been woeful this season. Dumped out of the League Cup and languishing in 20th place in the league. The Rams are currently without a manager after Nigel Pearson left the club by mutual consent before the international break.
Chris Powell – Pearson’s assistant – is set to be offered the role on a permanent basis after leading the side to a win over Cardiff and a draw against Reading. He has his work cut out for him though. A bloated squad full of underperforming stars akin to QPR’s farcical stay in the Premier League a few years ago. The whip needs to be cracked big time in the midlands.
The Rams will come up against a Leeds United side who have experienced a bit of a revival under Gary Monk of late. The axe was looming large over Gary Monk’s head and was mid-swing before this run of four wins in five games. They’ve only conceded twice in those five games scoring seven times. The Yorkshire are one of the form sides in the league at the moment and are tipped on the double chance at 9/10.
Brighton 11/20 | Draw 28/10 | Preston 5/1
Brighton have surged up the table after a bit of a shaky start to the season. Four wins and a draw from five games suggests that they need to be respected. They’ll face Preston North End on Saturday and are widely expected to get the better of the Lilywhites. The Seagulls made a huge statement of intent by beating fellow promotion chasers Sheffield Wednesday away from home before the international break.
They go up against a Preston side who haven't been solid enough and probably deserve to be in 17th place in the standings. They’ve struggled all season to put together a consistent run of results and to be quite honest, will struggle to do so throughout the rest of the season with their current squad. Brighton should be backed on the -1 Handicap at 31/20.
QPR 5/4 | Draw 43/20 | Reading 9/4
QPR have endured an indifferent start to the season and find themselves sitting in 13th place with one win from their last six matches. The pressure is on Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink both on and off the pitch following the Telegraph’s sting which saw Sam Allardyce removed from his position as England’s manager. The R’s manager was also implicated and filmed in the sting but we’ll have to wait and see how these allegations have affected the side on Saturday.
Reading come into this game on a solid run of form. Recent wins against Huddersfield Town and Barnsley as well as hard-fought draws against Derby and Birmingham seem to suggest that Jaap Stam has turned this side into real fighters. They’ve become combative and difficult to beat both home and away. Reading are the better side at the moment both on and off of the pitch. They’re great value at 9/4 – get on!
Wigan 21/20 | Draw 47/20 | Burton Albion 49/20
Two of the new boys square off on Saturday afternoon when Wigan and Burton Albion do battle at the DW Stadium. Wigan have been on a pretty dire run of form of late and sit precariously above the relegation zone. I shudder to think where this side would be without Will Grigg scoring six of the club’s 12 goals. He’ll need to be on form against this weekend against a dogged Burton side.
Albion stopped a five match winless streak before the international break, as they cruised to a 2-0 win over an out of sorts Cardiff City team. I have to say that the Brewers have exceeded expectations thus far this season. They’re full value for their 15th place and have a real chance against Wigan this weekend. Back a strong Burton side on the double chance at 7/10 this weekend; they have the skill as well as the mettle to put this Wigan side away.
Aston Villa 9/10 | Draw 47/20 | Wolves 29/10
Villa fans will be hopeful that the sacking of Roberto di Matteo will bring a change in fortune. One thing is for sure, if Villa can secure the services of Steve Bruce, they will be real promotion candidates.
As it stands, however, they remain leaderless and rudderless as their season threatens to descend into the same sort of farce that saw them relegated from the Premier League last season. It’s not all doom and gloom for Villa though. Although they’re winless in six, they’ve drawn five of those games which suggests that they’re difficult to beat.
Wolves have been solid enough this season, although back to back defeats before the international break took the shine off of things a bit. That said, they’ve comfortably beaten some of the division’s big boys (Newcastle and Birmingham), while also being smashed by the likes of Barnsley – consistency remains the biggest issue for Walter Zenga and his men.
I’m going to stick my neck out here and back Wolves to win away from home. Villa are in disarray at the minute and desperately need a calming influence like Steve Bruce to come on board ASAP. Wolves to win at 29/10 for me.
Sunday 16 October
Huddersfield 29/20 | Draw 43/20 | Sheffield Wednesday 19/10
If you’d told me that Huddersfield Town would have been favourites to beat Sheffield Wednesday at this juncture in the season before the campaign got underway, I would have laughed at you. That said, here we are: the Terriers are full value for their favourites moniker heading into this match. They currently lead the division with Norwich and Newcastle snapping at their heels. They’ve only lost twice this season winning eight and drawing a single match.
David Wagner has turned the Yorkshire club’s fortunes around spectacularly and has committed himself to the team, quickly turning down advances from an increasingly desperate Aston Villa. This is a class side and will take some beating – especially at home.
Sheffield Wednesday have recovered from their early-season blip quite nicely and are climbing the table steadily. Their progress was halted somewhat as Brighton beat them at the Hillsborough Stadium last time out. The biggest issue that the Owls have faced this season is the lack of a proper out and out goal scorer.
Fernando Forestieri has not been able to rediscover the form that saw him light up the league last season for both the right and wrong seasons. He needs to rekindle the tenacity that made him near impossible to contain or Wednesday run the risk of missing out on promotion yet again. This match has goals written all over it – take Both Teams To Score at 8/10.
Weekend Treble: 7.96/1
Newcastle v Brentford: BTTS 17/20
Brighton vs Preston: Brighton (-1) 31/20
Norwich vs Rotherham: Norwich (-1) 9/10
Written by Jason Dewey for @Hollywoodbets.