CHAMPIONSHIP fan Matthew Kirby (@M_Kirby95) oversees Saturday's action, picking out his best bets.
Blackburn v West Brom | Saturday 11th July 2020, 15:00
West Brom head to Lancashire knowing three points will take them back to the summit of the Championship table. The Baggies are closing in on promotion, but Brentford keep applying pressure to the top-two.
After a sloppy start in their first two after the restart, which saw them drop points against Brentford, Slaven Bilic’s side have got back to normal service winning their last three.
But they won’t have things all their own way. Just ask Leeds, who came here last weekend, and although they left with the three points, Blackburn gave them a stern examination.
Rovers got back to winning ways in the Welsh capital in an entertaining 3-2 victory where Tony Mowbray’s side got their game plan spot on. The width they play with is likely to cause the West Brom full-backs a few problems here, especially if they don’t get protection from those in front.
Adam Armstrong recorded his 15th goal of the season in spectacular style to seal the three points at Cardiff and he does like a pop from distance, while Danny Graham and Dominic Samuel will both threaten Sam Johnstone’s goal.
While West Brom should have the talented duo of Grady Diangana and Matheus Pereira pulling the strings and creating the chances for Charlie Austin.
For me, Both Teams To Score at 10/11 (SkyBet) looks a big player here. There’s a good chance of that looking at the teams’ respective Expected Goals (xG) For (home and away) records.
Here at Ewood Park, Blackburn creates 1.54xGF, while on the road, West Brom are at 1.46xGF. Factor in that West Brom average nearly five shots on target per game compared to Rovers’ four, then chances should be quite frequent.
West Brom came out on top in August when the teams last met. That was a five-goal thriller where all the goals came in the first-half. Each of the last three clashes have seen the teams bag, so both teams to score looks very backable.
Derby v Brentford | Saturday 11th July 2020, 15:00 | Sky Sports
Brentford can continue to apply pressure to West Brom and Leeds with a win at Pride Park. Thomas Frank’s side have been excellent since the restart with five wins.
Tuesday’s win over Charlton was the first time they’d conceded since March, but they showed great spirit late on to come from behind and pick up what could be another important three points.
Said Benrahma swept home a penalty after a Josh Cullen foul before the impressive Ethan Pinnock headed home the winner five minutes from time.
Derby are still in the hunt for the play-offs but were rather underwhelming in their 2-0 defeat at The Hawthorns against West Brom. But once again their ill-discipline raised its ugly head. However, I thought Louie Sibley was unlucky to see red.
That was Derby’s sixth red card of the season and the bet has to be in the cards market here.
The Rams have picked up 82 cautions and six red this season – that’s the third-highest tally for cautions in the second-tier, while in comparison, Brentford have collected the fewest yellows (47) and just one red card.
Both sides like to get the ball down and play, but you have to say Brentford’s ball retention should see them edge the possession stats meaning Derby will have to do plenty of chasing.
It’s worth mentioning that in a few recent games, the opposition left-back has been carded against Brentford. Wigan’s Antonee Robinson fell foul, as did Luton’s Dan Potts.
Phillip Cocu has options in that area with Max Lowe and Craig Forsyth both vying for the starting berth. A few firms have player cards priced up and I’d have to be interested in whoever start in that position.
Lowe only has one yellow this season, but his stats for tackles and fouls are quite high – 1.4 fouls per game and 3.7 tackles per game, while Forsyth has two cautions from 0.6 fouls per game and 1.7 tackles per game.
Look out for team news before going with whoever starts, but Derby most booking points at 10/11 looks like a very nice way into a game that should be fairly open and end-to-end.
QPR v Sheffield Wednesday | Saturday 11th July 2020, 15:00
Two sides meet at Loftus Road that you could say are on the beach. QPR sit in 14th with Sheffield Wednesday, but Rangers’ form since the return has to concern Mark Warburton.
The R’s have won just one of their five games and the four defeats have all been by a single goal, so another tight game could be expected. Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat at Wigan saw an Expected Goals of just 0.56xG created. That said, their win at Boro saw just 0.66xG.
Four of their five games since the return have seen them record an Expected Goals For tally under 1 showing that they are struggling to create in the final third.
Sheffield Wednesday have lost three on the bounce after Wednesday’s 3-1 home defeat to Preston. At 1-1, they had a goal disallowed before the Lilywhites netted two late goals.
Despite their relative safety, Garry Monk isn’t one to allow any let-up, so they’ll go full pelt at this. Their Expected Goals For tallies would say they’ve been unlucky in not to take anything from recent games – 1.36xG v Preston, 1.88xG v Swansea and 0.97xG in those three defeats.
One thing the Owls are good at is winning corners. The direct style of their play suits backing flag kicks.
The big target man up front, who was Atdhe Nuhiu on Wednesday, with two pacey wingers Jacob Harris and Kadeem Harris helps to see how they like to get forward.
In their last eight games, they’ve taken: 11, 9, 7, 7, 9, 12, 8 & 7 corners. Some eye-watering numbers with 11 against West Brom, plus they managed to out-corner Brentford 7-4 at Griffin Park back in March.
It’s also 11/10 that Wednesday take most corners in the game with Sky Bet, which has copped in six of their last seven games. So with Wednesday’s direct style of play, these corner markets make plenty of appeal with Bet365 offering 6/5 on over 10 corners in the match.
That’s landed in nine of QPR’s last 13 home games have gone over 10 corners, while Wednesday’s last seven games have seen 15, 12, 11, 11, 12, 15 and 13 corners.
Both sides are around the 10-mark on averages for corners, but given how relentless the visitors are, then another double-figure count looks to be on the cards, especially with QPR average around five corners per home game.