CHAMPIONSHIP fan Matthew Kirby (@M_Kirby95) oversees Wednesday night's action from the second-tier, picking out his best bets.
Blackburn v Brentford | Wednesday 27th November 2019, 19:45 | Sky Sports
Brentford make the trip north sitting top of the Championship form table for the last six games (W5-D0-L1). That record was improved following Saturday’s 1-0 home win over Reading. Ollie Watkins headed home Mathias Jensen’s cross to take his tally to 11 for the season and continued the Bees recent form, which leaves them just two points outside the play-off places.
However, there is a reliance on Watkins to grab the goals. He’s scored 50% of their goals this term, and he’s seven clear of their next best – Bryan Mbeumo on four.
Blackburn have won two of their last three and scrambled over the line in a 3-2 thriller against bottom of the table Barnsley. Bradley Dack scored twice and bagged an 86th-minute winner to give Rovers all three points. There’s been plenty of entertainment for the Ewood Park faithful. The last five here have seen both teams find the net, while four of those have gone Over 2.5 Goals too.
The worrying thing for Tony Mowbray is the lack of clean sheets. After keeping three in their opening four home games, they’ve disappeared and allowed opponents clear sights of their goal. That said, Blackburn have an Expected Goals Against (xGA) mark of 13.10 at home, yet they’ve only conceded 10, suggesting that teams have missed key chances or Christian Walton has bailed them out a time or two.
When I was looking into this game, it was Brentford’s away record that caught the eye. The Bees have won five of nine away games, but look much deeper. In four of their last five away games, they’ve scored three goals, which is quite remarkable at any level of football.
Hitting sides with pace on the break, especially in the win over QPR, plus some clever technical football will give Thomas Frank’s side a chance of racking up a few more goals here.
Not only do Brentford score plenty, but they defend well. In each of their last three away games, they’ve restricted their opponents and that’s shown in the xG stats. Wigan only recorded 027xG, QPR managed 0.67, while high-flying Swansea recorded 0.99 – all three of those sides conceded three times too.
With Blackburn having conceded at least two goals in six of their last nine matches, then this Brentford side could expose further vulnerabilities, some which were highlighted against Barnsley. Given the Bees' tendency to hit sides on the break late in games, then look towards late goals, especially in-play, or even Over 2.5 Brentford goals at 9/2 could be worth a small stake.
My preferred play is the odds-against offering of Over 1.5 Brentford Goals at 5/4 (Bet Victor).
Sheffield Wednesday v Birmingham | Wednesday 27th November 2019, 19:45 | Sky Sports
This might not be one for the neutrals as both managers will be looking to arrest a dip in both sides fortunes. Garry Monk’s Sheffield Wednesday haven’t won in four, albeit three of those games came against the current top-six, while Pep Clotet’s Birmingham are winless in three.
Despite losing 2-1 at the Hawthorns following Charlie Austin’s penalty two minutes from time, the Owls recorded a 2.13xG from 15 shots showing they were unlucky to leave the Midlands without anything to show for their efforts. Birmingham rescued a point at Huddersfield at the weekend, but they’re now winless in five on their travels and Clotet’s pragmatic approach doesn’t seem to bear fruit on the road.
With the Blues expected to be camped deep inside their half waiting for Wednesday to break them down, then look towards the unders markets. The hosts have kept three clean sheets in their last four home games with those games finishing in two 1-0 wins and a goalless draw against Leeds, so Under 1.5 Goals (41/20 Unibet) could be a risk worth taking.
However, the main bet I’m taking comes in the cards markets given the equation of two poorly disciplined teams and a card happy referee generally proves rewarding.
Wednesday have had 37 yellows and two reds – one being Liam Palmer’s dismissal on Saturday, while Birmingham have 34 yellows and one red. They rank third and sixth respectively for their cards tallies, so when you throw a referee like Peter Bankes into the mix, then these markets have to be played.
Bankes has taken charge of nine games in all competitions with eight of those seeing at least 40 booking points, while seven have seen each team collect at least 20 booking points. His last middle came in Swansea’s 2-1 win at Wigan. Six yellow cards (five in the first half), plus a penalty awarded to the Welsh side.
Birmingham have had 20+ booking points or over 1 card in 6/9 away games, while that’s 5/8 for Wednesday at home, although the Owls overall are 12/17. Sky Bet have 40+ booking points chalked up at 10/11, which appeals given Birmingham’s away record and this referee.
Blackburn v Brentford – Over 1.5 Brentford Goals (5/4 Bet Victor)
Sheffield Wednesday v Birmingham – Over 1.5 Cards for Sheffield Wednesday and Over 1.5 Cards for Birmingham (23/10 William Hill)