Football League Betting Preview & Tips: Rovers can rock the Royals


CHAMPIONSHIP fan Matthew Kirby (@M_Kirby95oversees Tuesday night's EFL action, picking out his best bets. 

Blackburn v Reading | Tuesday 27th October 2020, 19:45 | Sky Sports 

Blackburn will be one of the more exciting sides to watch this season with Tony Mowbray having a front three of Adam Armstrong, Ben Brereton and Harvey Elliott.

Saturday’s 4-0 win against Coventry was aided by the first-half dismissal of Michael Rose, but it was a polished performance from a Rovers side that had lost their last two.

Those two defeats came at the hands of Nottingham Forest and Watford. The Forest loss came as the game was fizzling out to a goalless draw before Joe Lolley’s effort was deflected in. And at Watford, they had more shots on goal and had a 2.28xG but still left Vicarage Road empty-handed.

What makes this an intriguing fixture is Reading. The Royals are sitting pretty at the top of the table and are yet to taste defeat.

The appointment of Veljko Paunović raised eyebrows, just like their start to the season has. One thing is for sure, they’ve been tight at the back, with just one goal conceded. But looking at the data, their results are unsustainable, and this run will have to end soon.

What I mean by that is that the Royals have the lowest Expected Goals (xGF) in the Championship at 5.7xGF, despite that they’ve scored 11 goals. So, the story there is they’re punishing sides from low % chances. And to make things even more surprising about the goals scored is the fact they’ve had the fewest shots (50).

It’s no surprise they’ve conceded just one goal though. Their Expected Goals Against (xGA) is impressive having allowed just 4.6xGA. It was another clean sheet on Saturday, making it six in seven, and they had Liam Moore’s goal-line clearance to thank for that!

While Reading haven’t done much in terms of xG, Blackburn have. Rovers’ 16 goals scored have come from 14.9xG – the highest figure in the league. And Mowbray’s men rank second for shots (126) and top for shots on target (52).

Armstrong leads the way for shots (33) and shots on target (18). There’s a reason he’s already registered seven goals, which makes the 13/10 on the anytime look fair.

On the results and performance data so far, this game is truly fascinating. Since the start of the year, Rovers have only lost three times at home – twice last season, and those sides were promoted in Leeds and Fulham, plus Forest this, which I’ve mentioned above.

I like the balance in this Blackburn side with Lewis Holtby, and Tom Trybull alongside Johnson in this 4-3-3, which is part of the reason they get so many shots on their opponents’ goal.

Paddy Power and Betfair have priced up the teams shot markets. Blackburn have recorded 15 or more in five of their seven matches so far, including some staggering numbers – 19, 23 (twice) and 24. It’s 10/11 for them to hit that 15 mark again; while it’s 5/1 they hit 19+.

I’d imagine this being quite close to start with but opening up as the game goes on, especially with the pace both sides have in attacking areas – that’s why Reading have netted seven second half goals.

The figures sway you towards Blackburn and you’d have to agree. The 9/2 on Draw/Blackburn in the HT/FT looks another good way into this. 

Charlton v Oxford | Tuesday 27th October 2020, 19:00 

After winning just one of their opening three league games after relegation to the third tier, Charlton have started to show what they’re all about.

Lee Bowyer’s side are now unbeaten in their last four in the league, managing to keep shutouts in all of those. But despite their defensive solidity, their xGA is 9.5 compared to their attacking output of 6.3xGF, so sides aren’t taking their chances against the Addicks.

It’s been a slightly different story to Oxford’s season. They’ve won just two of their six league games, but performance data suggests they’re unlucky to find themselves in 22nd place.

As pointed out last week before they beat MK Dons, they’re creating chances, but are being punished at the back. Their 10.7xGA is one of the better figures in the league and you can imagine Karl Robinson’s side climbing up the table in the coming weeks.

The U’s will be the fresher side having had the weekend off. Their home game against Swindon was postponed due to an outbreak of Covid at the Robins, so they could put that energy to good use.

I’ll be playing a cards bet here with Charlton ranking highly for cards/booking points collected. So far, the Addicks have picked up 14 yellows and two reds, which works out at 165 booking points – an average of 23.6 booking points per game.

Bowyer’s men also rank well for fouls committed (106), and they face a side who do like to knock the ball around, so Oxford could draw a few fouls.

Veteran Ben Watson has already picked up four cautions in his four appearances, while keeper Ben Amos has a couple of cards to his name, so 20+ Charlton at EVS looks a fairly enticing play.

Craig Hicks is in charge – he’s shown at three cards in seven of his nine games, and the home time has seen at least two cards in four of those. And when breaking down his League 1 matches this season, he averages nearly 28 fouls per game, so plenty of opportunity for him to dish out the cards for the hosts.

Harrogate v Stevenage | Tuesday 27th October 2020, 19:45

Harrogate Town have taken to life in League 2 like a duck to water. Four wins and two draws from their opening eight games have seen them take 14 points – a very pleasing return.

But the Yorkshire club will look to return to winning ways, when they host Stevenage, after Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Colchester saw their three-game winning come to an end.

Despite slipping to defeat in Essex, they racked up the shots once more. They had 21 efforts – the most of any side in League Two on Saturday – although just five were on target.

Simon Weaver’s side rank third for shots (122) and fifth for shots on target (37), so this traditional 4-4-2 is working rather effectively when you also consider they’ve kept four clean sheets too.

In terms of Expected Goals (xG), just Forest Green have a better xGF than Harrogate’s 12.4 – 1.55 per game. While they limit their opponents too, conceding just 6.2xGA – 0.78 per game.

While there’s a balance at both ends of the pitch, it’s no surprise on that front that they’ve hit the ground running this term, especially with Jack Muldoon scoring six in six, plus having the experience of John Stead in the set-up will help.

Things haven’t started as well for Stevenage. Saturday’s 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Leyton Orient means it’s no wins in seven in all competitions.

The big worry for Alex Revell has to be the lack of goals. They haven’t scored in their last 503 minutes of league football, having failed to net since the 37th minute of their 2-1 win at Bradford last month.

Despite that, they’ve had just one less shot on target than Harrogate this season, while they have an xGF of 1.25 per game, so while the results would suggest a bleak output, there would be hope that something will give in the coming weeks.

However, I can’t see it being tonight, especially on the road. They’ve only kept two clean sheets in 11 away games in 2020. While their overall away form is pretty grim – just one win in 23.

It’s all pointing to a hard-fought home win, especially when you see that Muldoon is averaging 3.2 shots per game, while Aaron Martin (2.6) and George Thomson (2.5) also rank highly.

Given the low-scoring nature of Stevenage’s games, with Harrogate’s four wins all seeing under five goals, I’ll take this even-money play in the Bet365 Bet Builder feature.

Best Bets 

Blackburn v Reading – Draw/Blackburn (9/2 Bet Victor)

Blackburn v Reading – 15 or more Blackburn shots (10/11 Paddy Power)

Charlton v Oxford – Charlton 20+ Booking Points (1/1 Sky Bet)

Harrogate v Stevenage – Harrogate to win and Under 5 Goals (1/1 Bet365)

About Author

Matt is a graduate in sports journalism and is currently plying his trade as a content editor for a major betting company. He was bitten by the betting bug when backing horses and continues to do so. His main sporting interests are football, horse racing and darts. Matt is a Stoke season ticket holder and enjoys going to gigs.

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