JACK LAMBDEN (@_JackL_) shares his views on the best betting opportunities from Wednesday's EFL Coupon.
Hull v Barnsley | Wednesday 26th February 2020, 19:45 | Sky Sports
The good work done by Grant McCann and his Hull players in the first half of the season is very quickly unravelling on the back-drop of the club’s decision to sell its two best players, Jarred Bowen and Kamil Grosicki, during the January transfer window.
Ironically enough however, scoring goals since those attacking talents left has not been a problem. Seven strikes since the start of February is a healthy return but with four of those coming in an epic eight goal thriller with Swansea, it has only brought about 1 point from a possible 15.
Injuries are also hitting hard which is impacting on form and confidence of those that are playing. McCann is trying to maintain a brave face in the midst of Hull’s most difficult period of the season but results need to improve and quick with fixtures upcoming against fellow relegation-threatened sides.
Tuesday’s opponents Barnsley meanwhile are looking up and will cut the gap to Hull to seven points if they record victory over their Yorkshire rivals. A change in management mid-season can go either way for teams down the bottom but it appears to have injected new life into Barnsley’s squad.
Gerhard Struber’s side now have safety in their sights following back-to-back wins and clean sheets for the first time this season. Jacob Brown and Conor Chaplin have formed a decent partnership up front and are supported by Cauley Woodrow who knows where the back of the net is at this level and is linking up play between the midfield and front two brilliantly.
The 3-0 win on the Tykes’ last away trip at Fulham shocked the division and shows what this set of players is capable of with the right tactical structure in place so I’m surprised to see Barnsley +0 on the Asian Handicap at 101/100 with Bet365, a price that I expect to fall before kick-off.
This bet is essentially the same as backing Barnsley Draw No Bet with the stake returned if the game ends in a draw but a full payout if Barnsley win the game.
Another bet that I like in the same game is Over 1 Card for Each Team at 5/2 with William Hill. This seems overpriced when you factor in that this is a Yorkshire derby which always provides a bit of an edge.
Furthermore, the referee is David Coote who, fresh from his VAR howler in Saturday's game between Chelsea and Tottenham, will likely react by coming down hard on any rash fouls. His 5.33 cards per Championship game ratio is the highest of any official that has taken charge of more than two games at this level.
Looking at the team’s themselves, Hull rank seventh for home cards incurred this season and have picked up two or more cards in two of their last three matches. Barnsley have been awarded a whopping 79 cards this season with 45 of them coming on their travels so the stats are onside for them.
With this being such a big game that neither side can afford to lose, I would expect the challenges to fly in at times in such a tense atmosphere and the cards could well rack up.
Middlesbrough v Leeds | Wednesday 26th February 2020, 19:45 | Sky Sports
They say there's no more satisfying result in football than when your team wins 1-0 but trying telling that to Leeds fans at the moment! Despite complete and utter dominance in their two most recent matches, the Yorkshire club have come up against their Achilles' heel all season – finding a second goal to kill-off games.
Whilst ultimately three points were secured, the nerves have increased around Elland Road as if the fans are waiting for an individual error which will let the opposition in. It will come as little surprise to see that Marcelo Bielsa's men lead the way on so many of the performance metrics including shots on goal but it's shot conversion which has been the biggest problem.
However, even with Kalvin Phillips missing here for the away side, I don't think Middlesbrough can cause too many problems for the Leeds backline considering their own lack of goals. Back-to-back blanks in front of goal and 10 games without a win since their FA Cup tie with Tottenham has dragged ‘Boro back in to the relegation mix.
Only Sheffield Wednesday have scored fewer goals at home than Middlesbrough's 16 as games at the Riverside have gone back to being rather dire affairs as they were for so much of last season.
I would expect Leeds to suffocate the game by keeping possession and controlling proceedings throughout. I'm happy to have a play on the Whites to win and Under 4.5 Goals in the match which is 19/20 with Betway at the time of writing. Sixteen of Leeds' 17 away matches this season have gone under the 4.5 goal mark and their quality should tell here, even if it is another slender, stress-inducing win for their fans.