Back to back EFL weekend clean sweeps for Adrian Clarke and he’s keen to keep the momentum going this weekend!
I hope you were on board with last week’s pair of Championship selections! Those two payouts made it 10-3 (77%) since I started the Matchbook column which I’m delighted with BUT this is no time to rest on our laurels…
Karanka’s Stubborn Blues Will Test The Rockin Robins
Fifth-placed Bristol City on their own patch against low-scoring bottom half strugglers Birmingham City (a team that hasn’t won since Halloween) bears all the hallmarks of a safe-as-houses home banker.
Or does it? I’m not convinced.
While there’s no denying Dean Holden is doing a magnificent job at Ashton Gate right now, I do feel their league position is a slightly false one.
The back four (until recently a back 3) is not settled or convincing.
As a consequence keeper Dan Bentley has been an incredibly busy man, with only four Championship stoppers forced into making more saves (40) than the Robins star so far this season.
Without Bentley’s heroics, Bristol City’s start would have a pretty different vibe.
Bristol City’s home form is also distinctly average, netting just seven times in as many games.
This makes them one of the division’s lowest goalscorers at home and because of those struggles, they have failed to win four of seven encounters.
Holden has good front men at his disposal. Nakhi Wells, Chris Martin, Famara Diedhou and Antoine Semenyo all have the ability, but as a team, they do find it hard to break down stubborn opposition.
In essence, the Robins are a counter-attacking team and the stats bear this out. In seven of their eight wins so far they have enjoyed less than 50% possession.
That’s not good news when your next opponents are Birmingham City.
The Blues average 44.5% possession this season, the second-lowest in the Championship and they will happily sit back and soak up pressure in this fixture.
Aitor Karanka would never win a medal for tactical adventure but he does know how to organise a team on their travels.
Beaten just once on the road this term (a run that includes five draws with Under 2.5 goals) they are nothing, if not obdurate. Dangerous at set plays, and with match-winners Bela, Hogan and Jutkiewicz all capable players at this level, I believe they have a platform to make this a tough test for the play-off chasing hosts.
I’d fancy this to be a tight affair but this is reflected in the prices with Under 2.5 goals (1.6) and the Goal Line on the Asian Handicap set at 2.0!
If you want to dip in at under 2.0 goals, a risky move, you will be offered around 2.07.
So instead of tipping that up, I am going to stick my neck on the line this week and steer you towards a possible upset.
Birmingham City are no great shakes but they can give a flawed Bristol City team a challenging test.
I’ll be backing the Blues with a 0.5 goal head start on the Asian Handicap at 1.75, keeping the draw on our side also!
If they can earn draws at Swansea City and Stoke City then they are good enough to repeat the trick this Saturday down by the River Severn.
Home Specialists Can Navigate A Win At The Mariners Expense
Steve Ball’s Colchester United will welcome 1,000 supporters back into the JobServe Community Stadium on Saturday evening and it should be a happy homecoming.
The U’s have been excellent on their own patch so far this season.
Claiming notable scalps that include Forest Green, Leyton Orient and Bolton Wanderers the Essex outfit are still unbeaten after seven games, winning five. I must say recent form is patchy – and a 6-1 hammering at Exeter City shouldn’t be ignored – but Colchester United’s forward line is brimming with pace and skill nevertheless.
Jevani Brown has seven League Two goals, while in-form winger Callum Harriott boasts four goals and five assists.
When you add in Luke Norris, Cohen Bramall, Courtney Senior and Kwame Poku to the list (all talented match-winners at this level of the game) then you have a pretty potent goal threat.
Up against a Grimsby Town side that are at their best going forward the Over 2.5 goals bet is one to consider at 1.87.
Back in February, the visitors did win a five-goal thriller in this corresponding fixture.
Grimsby Town under Ian Holloway find themselves in a weird place right now.
Results are temperamental. They lost heavily to Tranmere Rovers and Exeter City on the back of a humbling FA Cup defeat at Dagenham & Redbridge, but in between they also beat Crawley Town away.
Overall I’d assess them as a young side that’s sorely lacking League Two nous and experience.
A concerning minus 10 goal difference, the second-worst figure in the division, shines a light on that point.
I really like Ollie, he’s one of the game’s great characters, but right now his mood is a bit on the tetchy side.
He doesn’t have a prolific striker, he doesn’t have a defence he can trust, and he isn’t enamoured with the character of his players either, frequently criticizing the club’s recruitment in the local press.
I feel this is a good fixture for Colchester United to get back on that winning horse, and they are available at a decent price (2.0).
- Birmingham City + 0.5 at 1.75
- Colchester at 2.00