CHAMPIONSHIP fan Matthew Kirby (@M_Kirby95) oversees Wednesday night's action, picking out his best bets.
Bristol City v Stoke | Wednesday 15th July 2020, 17:00
Bristol City have been resurgent since the departure of Lee Johnson. They’ve won both games and it’s seen Dean Holden tweak the formation, which has borne fruits.
The wing-backs have helped to increase output in front of goal, and allow the Robins to get more bodies around their opposition penalty area, where they are more dangerous. It’s seen Jamie Paterson net in both games, which have seen chances at both ends with Expected Goals of:
Bristol City 1.35xG v Hull 1.19xG (2-1)
Middlesbrough 1.46xG v Bristol City 1.73xG (1-3)
They’re three points off the play-offs, so aren’t out of that race just yet, and they come up against a Stoke side nearing safety, but probably in need of a couple more points.
The Potters cruised to a much-needed home win against Birmingham. Being 2-0 up at half-time doesn’t paint their dominance, which saw James McClean and Sam Vokes both hit the crossbar, while Lee Camp made a smart save to deny the Republic of Ireland international. It should have been more.
In the second-half, they didn’t ask any questions of Birmingham’s defence, but neither was their backline stretched, as it was at Leeds just a few days before, so this was the perfect tonic.
Nick Powell is one of Stoke’s influential players and he got the assist for Danny Batth’s opener, but Michael O’Neill did suggest he was a doubt for this trip to the South West.
If that’s the case it’ll be interesting to see what O’Neill does with his starting XI. Whatever happens, he must stick with the 4-2-3-1 in which they look a much better unit.
If Powell misses out, it could see Jordan Thompson given a starting berth. He could join Jordan Cousins as a CDM or play in the number 10 role. If it’s the former, Sam Clucas could be pushed forward and he’s Stoke’s top scorer this term.
It’s 17/10 for Clucas to have a shot on target with Betfair, and that is an appealing angle against a side who concede chances.
But the wise play looks to be both teams to score at 10/11 with William Hill. There is plenty of attacking quality in these two sides at this level, so I’m expecting both to notch.
The Potters could exploit the host’s rustiness from defending set-pieces, which was highlighted in their defeat to Sheffield Wednesday. Stoke have scored 17 times from set-pieces, so that is worth considering in goalscorer markets.
Between them this season, they’ve scored 104 goals, while conceding 128, so with leaky defences, we should see attacks come out on top.
Birmingham v Charlton | Wednesday 15th July 2020, 18:00
Two teams who have been dragged into the relegation mix clash at St Andrew’s this evening, and with plenty at stake, it might be wise to back cards.
Birmingham’s rotten run continued when losing 2-0 at Stoke, where they looked like a team of strangers. After the game, Harlee Dean tore into his team-mates and labelled the performance ‘amateur’.
It’s now 11 without a win for the managerless Blues, and the rudderless ship is sinking fast with many fans hoping that they aren’t completely submerged by next Wednesday.
Charlton head into this round of fixtures a place and a point above the drop zone. It’s four games without a win and just one goal scored which is part of Lee Bowyer’s current issues.
After pulling off two 1-0 wins on the return to action, the Addicks looked pretty much safe, but with the results of those below them, they are fighting for their lives.
Only three teams have scored fewer goals than Charlton, who have the second-lowest Expected Goals For output this season at 50xGF. On top of that, they have the second-worst Expected Goals Against at 71xGA, so people shouldn’t be surprised by their demise.
Their early play-off challenge was built on taking limited chances and riding their luck. This is a game where they’ll need to be on it and have to take something from it to ease the pressure.
Given what’s at stake, then 40+ Booking Points with Sky Bet at EVS looks rather generously priced.
Charlton have picked up 100 cards this season, which is the most, while Birmingham ranks sixth for cautions with 80, plus a couple of dismissals.
The Blues rank second for fouls at 13.6 per game, with the Addicks at 12.6 per game, so you feel David Webb will have his work cut out here. The referee hadn’t shown a red card before lockdown – he’s now shown two in his last three.
Birmingham snapped into challenges against Stoke and made quite a few late ones. They picked up 40 booking points alone from 12 fouls. Before that they had committed fouls counts of 16, 18, 17, 12, 11 & 14 over their last seven.
In the same time, Charlton’s have been 18, 9, 13, 12, 11, 20 & 9. Interestingly, the 20 came against Hull, another side they’ll be fighting to stay up against, so this could follow a similar pattern.
Bowyer will demand that fighting spirit from his players, and that shone through on Saturday. Their 1-0 defeat against Reading saw them pick up 40 of the 70 booking points in the game.
There’s a good chance with 20+ booking points each team with these two, but I’m more than happy to take the evens on 40+ Booking Points.
Bristol City v Stoke – Both Teams To Score (10/11 William Hill)
Birmingham v Charlton – 40+ Booking Points (1/1 Sky Bet)