Adrian Clarke’s EFL tips went 1-1 last week, but he is seeking to go one better this time around.
After a two-week breather, the Championship returns this weekend and that’s where I’m headed with a pair of selections that leap off the page….
EFL Tips – OPPOSING GOALS WHEN THE TIGERS HOST BOWYER’S BLUES
I don’t like to be too harsh, but Hull City and Birmingham City are two of the least exciting teams in this season’s Championship. That’s indisputable, I think.
Grant McCann has always been a relatively attack-minded coach but his Tigers side have really struggled with the step up in level this term, finding the back of the net just 11 times in 17 outings.
Putting that into perspective they have failed to score in 65% of their fixtures. Not good.
Birmingham City pose a little more danger it must be said (notching 18 goals) but in eight of 17 runouts, they have failed to trouble the scoreboard operators too. That run includes four blanks across their last five away games.
So, it will come as no surprise whatsoever to discover I’m planning to oppose goals for Hull City v Birmingham City this weekend.
Under 2.0/2.5 goals is an option at 1. w85ith Matchbook but I am drawn towards BTTS NO for this encounter on Humberside.
Remarkably BTTS NO has landed in 13 of 17 matches for both Hull and Birmingham meaning it’s been a winning selection 76.4% of the time!
When they meet up, you’d like to think it has a decent chance of happening again.
Defensively they both share inconsistencies but neither side has problems holding opposition sides at bay.
The Tigers are third-bottom in the table, but eight-second tier teams have shipped more goals than they have, and Lee Bowyer’s Blues are capable of being stingy too.
Despite sitting in an uninspiring 15th place right now the Blues somehow boast the second-highest number of clean sheets, with eight from 17. They always try to build from a solid foundation at the back.
The formbook says Birmingham City should be marginal favourites to collect an away win, but McCann’s boys put in arguably their best performance since the opening weekend prior to the international break, winning 2-0 at Barnsley.
Will it be thrill-a-minute? That’s doubtful but I do believe it will be a competitive hard-fought affair.
Given that eight of Hull City’s last nine Championship matches have gone Under 2.5 goals, I’m banking on a low scoring clash.
It’s BTTS NO for me at 1.9.
EFL Tips – TIPPING THE CHERRIES TO DELIVER THEIR SUNDAY BEST AT DEVASTATED DERBY
If Scott Parker’s Bournemouth continue in the same vein between now and the end of this marathon Championship season, they’d be promoted as champions with 108 points.
That’s how good the Dorset all-stars have been so far this term.
Beaten just once, leaking a measly 10 goals in 17 appearances, the ex-Fulham gaffer has made the Cherries tough to beat, and ridiculously hard to break down. Tactically Parker has absolutely nailed it since we began back in August.
A blossoming centre back partnership between veteran Gary Cahill and promising 23-year-old Lloyd Kelly has also helped to keep the Bournemouth ship well away from choppy waters too.
In forward areas, the leaders have 13-goal Dominic Solanke leading the line, with the likes of Philip Billing (6 goals), Jaidon Anthony (4) and marauding left-back Jordan Zemura (3) the main supporting cast.
Failing to score just twice in 2021-22 they carry a goal threat wherever they go.
This Sunday they rock up at forlorn Derby County.
Still ownerless, still in administration, and thanks to a fresh nine-point deduction they are now sat on -3 points. Unfortunately, the Rams are staring at near-certain relegation to League 1.
To their credit, Wayne Rooney and his players have carried themselves exceptionally well throughout the most miserable of periods, and some of their displays have been good. However, with chins on the floor, the impending visit of Bournemouth is not one they’ll especially welcome.
Derby have drawn nine games so far, winning just three – and they come into this most challenging of contests without a victory in their last seven outings.
I have to say their game management is decent. Under Rooney’s well-organised management, Derby have not conceded more than two goals in a game yet this term.
It’s at the top end of the field where they fall short, averaging just 0.74 goals per 90 minutes. Low on squad depth, they have been really hurt by injuries and suspensions.
There is a possibility Derby County will come out firing and put on a morale-boosting show for their long-suffering fans on Sunday. There have been no signs until this stage that they have given up the ghost.
Equally, on the back of this further points deduction, they may turn up with a more resigned attitude this time. If that happens against opponents of this quality it will be a very long afternoon.
The truth is Bournemouth are a significantly better team.
So, as long as they don’t take matters for granted, I’d expect Parker’s on-song outfit to chalk up a comfortable away success at the weekend.
I like the price on offer for a Cherries win, so that’s my pick here. At 1.86, in front of the live TV cameras, I do fancy the table-toppers to show what they’re about and inflict more misery on the beleaguered Rams.
Hull City vs Birmingham City BTTS NO (1.9)
Bournemouth to beat Derby (1.86)