CHAMPIONSHIP fan Matthew Kirby (@M_Kirby95) oversees Wednesday night's final round of action, picking out his best bets.
Birmingham v Derby | Wednesday 22nd July 2020, 19:30
Birmingham rescued a late draw in their last home game and that could be the point that sees them survive. But, sitting two points above the drop means there’s little margin for error in this Midlands derby.
The Blues haven’t won in 11 and they’ve lost five of their last six. As their manager search intensifies, it’s looking more than likely to be Aitor Karanka.
Derby’s defeat at home to champions Leeds ended their play-off hopes, but Philip Cocu will take positives from his first season in English football.
The players seemed to have taken on-board his style and philosophy, which at times has been good to watch. So, like a few teams tonight, they have little to play for and have the chance to show Cocu’s style in full flow, while potentially condemning Birmingham.
Cards are always hard to judge, especially on the final game of the season, but when one of these teams has something to play for whereas one doesn’t.
The team with something to play for is Birmingham, and if you take Sky Bet’s prices from the Most Booking Points market it’s 15/8 Birmingham compared to evens for Derby.
On the stats, there’s nothing in it. Birmingham have picked up 85 yellows and two reds, while Derby have 84 yellows and six reds.
In terms of fouls per game, Birmingham averages a couple more than the Rams. But, for me, the biggest factor is that Derby averages more possession and will retain it better than the hosts.
If the visitors get the ball down and knock it around as expected, the Blues frustration could grow, especially if news filters through of Charlton and Luton goals (however unlikely).
In seven of the eight games since the restart, Birmingham have picked up 20+ booking points and that’s 10/11, which I thought would be shorter, but this being the last game is probably factored in.
However, the most booking points market where Birmingham are 15/8 does have more to like about the price. It makes sense for them to be getting stuck into tackles, which Derby don’t need to do.
Interestingly, referee Tim Robinson has shown eight cards in five games since the restart. In four of those he’s issued just one, and all of those have gone to home players. So, that’s four in five where the home side have picked up the most booking points.
It is a chance with the stage of the season we’re at, but at that price, it’s worth a nibble with the potential predicament the hosts could be in at some stage during this game.
Cardiff v Hull | Wednesday 22nd July 2020, 19:30
Cardiff just need to avoid defeat to secure their play-off place, and they couldn’t have asked for a better opponent – bottom of the league Hull.
The Bluebirds have a pretty solid home record. They’ve picked up 39 points and have only lost three times on home turf all season.
Hull needs something of a small miracle to still be playing at this level next season. Grant McCann’s side showed more fight and character but still fell to a 1-0 defeat against fellow strugglers Luton that all but saw their fate sealed.
Their problems over the last few weeks have been well documented with on the pitch struggles, the sales of key players, plus unrest and discord between the fans and the owners.
It’s now just one win in their last 19 league games and in 10 of their last 11, they’ve also conceded first, which gives them a mountain to climb. On top of that, in four of their last six, they’ve conceded in the first five minutes.
The Tigers now have conceded the most away goals in the Championship and you have to imagine Cardiff will only inflict more woe onto this already reeling visiting side.
There’s some 11/10 on Cardiff -1 and Hull have suffered some heavy defeats on the road – 8-0, 4-2 and 5-1. You can understand why with Hull’s wretched run, but of Cardiff’s 10 home wins, only three have been by a margin of two or more goals.
A few firms have priced up players to be shown a card, and I’m going to have a little delve on Hull’s Leonardo Da Silva Lopes.
The 21-year-old usually plays in midfield, but he was deployed as a right-back on Saturday. In either position, he’ll have to get stuck in with it being all hands to the pump.
He averages 1.9 tackles per game (73 in total) and 1 foul per game, while he’s been dribbled past 55 times. To get anything from this game, you’ll have to stop either man or ball, so he could be one to rack up the fouls.
It’s a big night for Hull and they’ll have to show they’re scrapping to serve however difficult it might be. It’s 10/3 that Lopes picks up his sixth card of the season.
West Brom v QPR | Wednesday 22nd July 2020, 19:30
Automatic promotion is still in West Brom’s hands despite their slip-up at Huddersfield on Friday night. That’s because chasing Brentford also lost over the weekend – 1-0 at Stoke.
The Baggies looks a side full of nerves and the tension. After Friday’s defeat, Slaven Bilic said: “We simply weren’t good enough. We crumbled under the pressure.” Not what you want to hear if you’re a Baggies fan.
They’ve failed to win any of their last three, so the pressure has built. And, it could be dangerous that they play a side with nothing at stake.
It can give QPR the freedom to go out and express themselves. They did that at the weekend when beating Millwall 4-3 in a game that saw an Expected Goals (xG) of 3.31 for the R’s.
Some will argue QPR that Mark Warburton’s side will take it easy here, and the conspiracy theorists among them have already put together cases for a West Brom win, as our own Mark O’Haire tweeted yesterday.
But, let’s be honest, should QPR be 23/2 with Unibet? Probably not, especially if playing like Saturday where they carved Millwall open and created plenty of chances.
If you look at West Brom’s record here at the Hawthorns, then you’ll see three defeats and they came against sides you’d have expected them to beat – Middlesbrough, Stoke and Wigan.
There’s still some odds-against knocking around on both teams to score and that looks worth taking.
With West Brom’s shaky defensive displays then this QPR could have some joy, as Huddersfield found on Friday, while even Hull came here and scored twice.
Eberechi Eze, Ilias Chair and Luke Amos have been linking up well in recent games, and although the visitors are without Bright Osayi-Samuel, they will still pose a threat.
QPR are probably a better side against the more open and expansive sides, so West Brom could play into their hands in some senses. That’s highlighted with the R’s finding the net at Brentford and Fulham earlier in the season.
It will be a night of tension at the Hawthorns for those in black and white, so QPR could pounce and put some added pressure on to Bilic’s side.
Birmingham v Derby – Birmingham most booking points (15/8 Sky Bet)
Cardiff v Hull – Leonardo Da Silva Lopes to be carded (10/3 Betfair)
West Brom v QPR – Both Teams To Score (21/20 Sportingbet)