Bournemouth vs Coventry | Saturday 10th April 2021, 15:00
I didn’t think I would ever write this, but Jonathan Woodgate has done better than I was expecting at Bournemouth. Since he took over, he has a record of W7-D2-L3 scoring 20 and conceding 12. A victory this weekend over Coventry City could see them break into the Championship playoff positions.
The Cherries are currently in seventh, a point behind Reading who they have a game in hand over, while Coventry sit in 20th and are not yet clear of relegation danger, although they are seven points clear of 22nd-placed Rotherham United, who they face in a huge game next Thursday. I would not be surprised if they have one eye on that game rather than a much tougher ask here.
Woodgate’s men seem to be hitting form at just the right time as they look to bounce back to the Premier League at the first time of asking via the play offs and they have now won three consecutive league games for the first time since November. There aren’t many better opponents to welcome than Coventry.
No team has picked up fewer points away from home in the Championship this season than Coventry with just 11 points from 19 games. They have won just twice on the road keeping just one clean sheet which was back in September, while only Luton Town have scored fewer away goals than the Sky Blues. I have them in 19th position for their away expected points and with a xGA of 1.54 with only sides have a worse record.
On the road they have conceded 1.5 or more goals in 50% of games. Five of the bottom seven failed to score 2 or more, which means that only four sides sitting 16th and above failed to score 2 or more goals.
Bournemouth have now scored in each of their last 10 matches, whilst only failing to score twice at home all season. Its only Brentford and Norwich City that have scored more times across the whole campaign in the Championship. In addition, only the Canaries and Watford have picked up more points at home in the Championship than the Cherries this season.
I am surprised to see Bournemouth available at 41/50 with Sporting Index to score 1.5+ goals and given the form of the hosts and lack of clean sheets by the visiting side, I think this is a standout bet.
Huddersfield vs Rotherham | Saturday 10th April 2021, 15:00
Next up we our staying in the Championship for another huge game at the bottom of the table as Huddersfield host Rotherham. The home side currently hold an eight-point advantage over their 22nd-placed opponents although Rotherham have three games in hand and enter a huge week as next up for them after Huddersfield is Coventry and then Birmingham next weekend.
Huddersfield Town head into this game looking to respond to their 7-0 defeat at leaders Norwich City earlier this week. It was their heaviest in 34 years, since a 10-1 drubbing to Manchester City back in 1987.
It will be interesting to see how much confidence has been eroded from them following that humiliating defeat. Whilst they sit just about clear of the bottom three, defeat here could well push them into a relegation scrap over the next month.
Only Wycombe possess a worse defensive record than Huddersfield, heaping the pressure on an attack which has scored just four goals in eight outings, but in general their home form has been ok this season with W8-D5-L6 which puts them 12th on home points per game. Their underlying process sees them sit just below midtable and I have them 15th in my rankings.
Rotherham are now at that point in the season where they know that they have to come away with all three points, which perhaps simplifies matters for them and means they can just turn up and have a go with many feeling they are down after the Wycombe result.
Key player James Lindsey said after the Wycombe defeat “If you get beaten 3-0 by anybody it is a sore one to take, but knowing where Wycombe were in relation to ourselves, we knew how big a game it was. For us to put on the performance we did, has left the players feeling like we've let people down. We don't want to be that group of players that are remembered like that”.
The reaction of the players following that defeat suggests to me that they know they need a big performance here and it’s a must win game.
An away win here and Rotherham would be within five points of the Terriers with three games in hand but if the hosts were to win then I believe Rotherham would have far too much work to do to catch their Yorkshire rivals. It is therefore win or bust for them in terms of catching their opponents.
We also have the hosts desperate to put right their awful display at Norwich with their fans suggesting that the team had no shape, no desire and no idea. This is a potentially season-defining match for both sides, and it should be a good encounter.
Given the important of the match I am expecting a game with little quality and lots of fouls. Huddersfield might be happy with a draw, but Rotherham need a win and with the hosts next few games against Bournemouth, Barnsley and Reading the significance of this match shouldn’t be underestimated.
Rotherham have collected 30 yellow cards and two reds on the road this season and commit the 2nd highest number of fouls whilst on the road. They have collected at least one card in 17 of 18 away matches this season and two or more in 10 of 18 games. When facing sides in the bottom half they pick up an average of 1.8 cards per away game.
Huddersfield home games see an average of 4.37 cards per game with the hosts collecting 1.79 but the visitors with an average of 2.37. Only three sides have visited the John Smith Stadium and not collected at least two cards – Brentford, Swansea and Reading. No side commits fewer away fouls than the Royals and they along with Brentford both sit in the bottom three for fewest away cards collected.
Lee Mason steps down from the Premier League to take this game and whilst his record in the topflight isn’t great for cards, he likes to dish them out in the lower leagues with an average of 3.5 cards per game which rises to 4.67 when officiating in the Championship. This is a small sample of just 3 games, but all the away sides collected 2 cards and he still managed to issue a red card in the relegation battle featuring Birmingham and Sheffield Wednesday.
I am happy to back the trend of away sides collecting two or more cards when visiting Huddersfield which has landed in 85% of games and given the importance of the game, I feel that Rotherham over 20+ booking points at 10/11 is a good price.
Cambridge vs Exeter | Saturday 10th April 2021, 15:00
Our final bet sees us dip in League Two and we head to the Abbey Stadium and I am keen to get the league leaders on side and we can back them on draw no bet at 4/5 with Bet365. This means that should the game end in a draw we get a full refund and then only way we lose our stake is if Exeter win the game.
The hosts have a home record of W11-D5-L4 and of their four home defeats they won the xG in three of them, how they managed to lose to Scunthorpe despite winning the shot count 16 vs 2 is one of life’s big mysteries. However, what I want to focus on is that in three of these defeats Wes Hoolahan didn’t play. To say that Hoolahan is instrumental to the side is a bit of an understatement.
Cambridge have collected 71 points this season and in the 14 games that Hoolahan hasn’t played they have collected just 15 points. In the 25 games that he has played they have a record of W17-D5-L3 and at home with him playing they sit W11-D3-L1 that’s a win rate of 79%.
United are currently in a rich vein of form, having picked up four wins and a draw from their last five matches. Yet they are aware that their job is not done yet. Whilst they are currently seven points clear of 4th place Bolton, in the top play off place, all the sides below them have a game in hand. A defeat on Saturday and then a win for Bolton or Tranmere will move them within four points with the game in hand to come.
Exeter have lost four of their last six matches and drew 0-0 against Mansfield Town last time out. The Grecians have netted just three times in their six-game run. Their away record isn’t great with W5-D8-L6 which on a points per game result puts them 12th. When visiting sides in the top half they have failed to win a game so far with W0-D5-L3.
They conceded five to Cheltenham, twice to Tranmere and Morecambe and have only managed to keep four clean sheets on their travels all season, all of which are to bottom half sides. Only Morecambe in the top half have conceded more away goals than Exeter.
Exeter will need to keep Paul Mullin quiet, which is not an easy task. He has 27 goals this season and has scored six goals in his last five games.
I just can’t turn down the 4/5 available for Cambridge on the 0.0 Asian Handicap. They are in decent form and as we have seen have a decent home record when Hoolahan starts, and they are entertaining a side that is struggling for goals and form and haven’t beaten a top half side away from home all season.