CHAMPIONSHIP fan Matthew Kirby (@M_Kirby95) oversees Wednesday night's action from the second-tier, picking out his best bets.
Birmingham v QPR | Wednesday 11th December 2019, 19:45 | Sky Sports
Birmingham climbed out of a mini-rut with their 3-2 win at Reading. It’s ended a run of five games without a win and three successive 1-1 draws.
Pep Clotet’s side are fairly useful at home, especially against sides in the bottom half of the table. Four of their five wins here at St Andrew’s have been against sides at the wrong end of the table and QPR could be about to join that list.
Rangers picked up a crucial three points against a Preston side struggling with injuries. Eberechi Eze netted both goals to end the London clubs seven-match drought.
Eze is key to this QPR side. He’s the one that makes them tick. The 21-year-old has been involved in 13 of the goals they’ve scored this season (nine goals and four assists).
He’s the beating heart of this side, pivotal to Mark Warburton’s plans. But, with how deep Birmingham tend to sit then that could nullify his pace, yet it could create pockets of space for him to pick a clever pass, so that is going to be the intriguing battle.
The outright market looks a tough one to decipher, but there was one thing that caught the eye. That’s the high volume of second-half goals in Birmingham games, especially at home.
In their 20 games this season, the Blues have been level at half-time in 12 of them – five of those have been here at St Andrew’s. 73% of goals in Birmingham games have been after half-time (35 of 48), while the figure is 60% in matches involving QPR (40 of 67).
That opens up the avenue of looking towards the second half seeing the most goals. This has won in 7/9 Birmingham home games with just four first half goals scored at St Andrew’s.
So in what looks a tough game to call on paper, look towards the second half being the most open and entertaining at an odds-against price.
Derby v Sheffield Wednesday | Wednesday 11th December 2019, 19:45 | Sky Sports
Derby are unbeaten in eight here at Pride Park, and if the table was based on home form, the Rams would sit seventh in the Championship – not 16th. So Gary Monk’s Sheffield Wednesday side will have their work cut out making three wins on the spin.
All of the Owls’ last six league games have seen BTTS, however, the Rams have kept clean sheets in four of their last five home games and it’ll be important for the hosts to stop crosses into their box targeting Steven Fletcher. The Scot netted both goals as Wednesday came from behind to behind fellow promotion hopefuls Brentford on Saturday, and it was a key tactic they used to see off Charlton at The Valley.
Despite the tactical nature of this game on paper, there’s a stats-based punt that could pay off at a decent enough price – 6+ Derby Corners (11/10 Sky Bet) looks rather attractive considering it’s won in 80% of their home games.
Phillip Cocu tends to operate with wing-backs in home games and that width will be key in getting the Wednesday defenders facing their own goal to put headed clearances out.
Given the prowess of the Wednesday defence in the air, then you’d anticipate them to win the majority of aerial duels in open play and from set pieces.
I’ll be backing Derby corners here given those impressive-looking stats. Even though head-to-head data is somewhat irrelevant, the Rams have registered 6+ corners in five of their last six against Wednesday.
Swansea v Blackburn | Wednesday 11th December 2019, 19:45 | Sky Sports
The Swansea bubble has well and truly burst. After a flying start to the season, they’ve slipped to 11th in the Championship and are on a run with five without a win.
Sunday’s 5-1 dismantling by West Brom will have been a harrowing one with the Swans proving vulnerable from set pieces and causing their own problems when on the ball in their defensive third.
The Swans' home form sees just one win in their last seven at the Liberty Stadium – five of those defeats, four by one-goal – fine margins. The supporters are concerned that Steve Cooper’s system is more suited to playing away and it looks like opposing sides have found flaws in those tactics.
One wise old fox is Tony Mowbray. A master of creating well-drilled team, which is hard to break down. His steady progress at the helm of the Ewood Park club is bringing some optimism to the supporters with progression seen on the pitch.
It’s four wins on the bounce for Rovers after a hard-fought 1-0 win over Derby with Adam Armstrong netting his fourth league goal of the campaign.
This could be the first time Blackburn have won five in a row in the Championship since November 2000 and with the way Mowbray sets his side up, then they do look a good price to leave South Wales with something.
Tosin Adarabioyo was imperious in their victory at Stoke and it was his initial header from a corner that saw Bradley Dack open the scoring. The central defender’s height will pose the Swans defence problems. If the 22-year-old is the target from set pieces, then the quotes of 35/1 for him to score with Betfair and Paddy Power are just too big.
But, it’s the way Blackburn restrict their opponents’ chances that gives me belief that they’ll take at least a point here. In Saturday’s win, Derby only registered 0.60xG against Rovers and we could see some Scrooge-like defending once more.
Blackburn Draw No Bet appeals most at a slightly better price than playing Blackburn 0 on the Asian Handicap.
Birmingham v QPR – Highest Scoring Half – Second (11/10 Betfair)
Derby v Sheffield Wednesday – 6+ Derby Corners (11/10 Sky Bet)
Swansea v Blackburn – Blackburn Draw No Bet (31/20 Paddy Power)