CHAMPIONSHIP fan Matthew Kirby (@M_Kirby95) oversees Wednesday evening's action, picking out his best bets.
Preston v Derby | Wednesday 1st July 2020, 17:00 | Sky Sports
One team usually makes a late burst for promotion and this season it seems to be Derby. In 2020, they’ve picked up 27 points – no side has won more. The Rams are playing full of confidence and Saturday’s win over Reading came with two goals late in the first half. In the end, it saw them create an Expected Goals (xG) output of 1.51 from their 13 shots.
Although the Rams will be without Tom Lawrence for this trip to Deepdale after the Welshman got himself sent off after the final whistle following a stupid bust-up with Matt Miazga, they still possess plenty of threat.
Preston’s play-off bid hit the buffers before the enforced break and it hasn’t picked up just yet. One point out of a possible 15 isn’t promotion form and Alex Neill will have been left scratching his head after Saturday’s defeat against Cardiff.
The Lilywhites have problems at the back. They’ve only kept seven clean sheets this season with just two of them here at Deepdale – the last back in September.
The lack of clean sheets has to be a concern, just like the recent form. From a shots point of view, both of these sides average 11.54 per game, yet it’s Derby who tests the opposition keeper more often with 4.18 shots on target compared to Preston’s 3.56.
This should be quite an entertaining game. Fourteen of Derby’s away games have gone Over 2.5 Goals, including each of the last seven – six of those have seen 4+ goals too.
Although Preston sits fifth for points picked up at home, their recent form isn’t good enough. It’s just two wins in their last eight at Deepdale and they look a side to take on, especially with an in-form Derby side that contains some good youngsters.
The Rams are on the longest scoring in the division having found the net in their last 16 games, so they’ll have the threat to break down this Preston defence.
Thirty-two Derby games have seen at least two goals and given their recent run of form, I’m willing to take Derby Double Chance with Over 1 Goal in a Bet365 Bet Builder at 21/20.
Nottingham Forest v Bristol City | Wednesday 1st July 2020, 19:45
Bristol City’s play-off hopes have been left in tatters after two defeats since the restart. Lee Johnson’s men have slipped to 12th in the table and head into this round of fixtures five points behind Cardiff in the final spot. Things don’t get much easier for the Robins with a trip to the City Ground and Johnson has his work cut out getting his side ready for this tough test.
Sunday’s defeat saw Johnson make seven changes from the side that lost at Blackburn, but their defending left a lot to be desired with both of the Owls’ goals coming from set-pieces.
Things are looking much rosier for Nottingham Forest who climbed above Fulham and into fourth place following their 3-1 victory over Huddersfield. Forest looked in full control against a struggling Terriers side and nearly went ahead early on when Sammy Ameobi struck the base of the post. Two tidy finishes from their top scorer Lewis Grabban and a third from Ryan Yates strengthened their promotion push.
Sabri Lamouchi’s side generated an output of 2.46 xG – the highest in the league last weekend – and you’d imagine they’ll have plenty of joy once more at the City Ground.
When you look at some of the data then you’ll see Bristol City are probably over-performing. They rank 22nd for Expected Goals (0.98xG) and concede the third-highest amount in the Expected Goals Against (1.69xGA). Break it down to just away games, then they rank 23rd for Expected Goals (0.89xG) and concede the second-highest amount in the Expected Goals Against (1.84xGA).
Those numbers aren’t a side that should be competing for the play-offs and if they do finish in the middle of the pack, then I wouldn’t be surprised to see Johnson exit the club at the end of the season.
I don’t rate Bristol City too highly from what I’ve seen of them and Forest can take advantage of some more sloppy defending. The hosts average 13.18 shots per game, compared to 10.13 of Bristol City, so they’ll pepper the visiting goal.
With Grabban showing that he remains in golden touch, then look towards a home win with goals. Forest and Over 1.5 Goals at 33/20 with Coral looks a good price as they look to notch their 10th home win.
Given the dreadful defending we saw from Bristol City from set-pieces, I’m tempted into the anytime market. Connor Wickham waltzed unmarked into a position to open the scoring on Sunday and it’s a way Forest could profit – their third against Huddersfield came from a corner.
Joe Lolley’s delivery is usually spot-on, so one of the defenders might be able to connect with a corner, but the height advantage of Sammy Ameobi is worth considering. He hit the post on Sunday and had four shots with one on target. At the time of writing, no shots markets are priced up, so a small play on him to score anytime looks the way in, as he’ll be a useful target from set-pieces for the hosts to utilise.