The Championship – 16th & 17th August

[symple_heading type=”h4″ title=”Doncaster v Blackburn” margin_top=”20px;” margin_bottom=”20px” text_align=”left”]

When Blackpool visited The Keepmoat Stadium on the opening day they won 3-1, and they were priced up at 2.62. My current belief is that Blackburn are a much better side than Blackpool. Blackburn may have only picked up one point so far, but that was a very credible draw away to Derby. Last weekend they were beaten by a 92nd minute Nottingham Forest winner, which came about after a mistake from goalkeeper Jake Kean.

They now have a great opportunity to get their first three points on the board against a side I believe will be relegated. Taking the price that Blackpool were at Doncaster as my guidelines here I can’t see why Blackburn are 2.75, I was expecting to see them priced up in the 2.50 bracket.¬†They’re a better side than Blackpool both defensively and going forward so should cause the hosts more problems. Jordan Rhodes hasn’t got on the score-sheet yet but it won’t be long before he’s banging in the goals again, he got 28 last season in a side that was shambles. With a more settled atmosphere around him you’d expect him to at least match that.

[symple_box color=”green” text_align=”center” width=”100%” float=”none”]Back Blackburn at 2.75 – Bet365[/symple_box]

[symple_heading type=”h4″ title=”Leeds v Sheffield Wednesday” margin_top=”20px;” margin_bottom=”20px” text_align=”left”]

Leeds provided some profits last weekend when they drew 0-0 at Leicester. In that match they didn’t look like they were going to concede and created a few opportunities for themselves. They’ll be happy with that point and should be able to build on it back at Elland Road. Sheffield Wednesday are the visitors, before the season started they were one of my three to go down and nothing I have seen has changed my mind. They’ve played two lost two and were dumped out of the League Cup at Rotherham. They don’t particularly look to have a goal threat and against a well organised Leeds side that could be an issue. They’ve singed Atdhe¬†Nuhiu, who had a trail at Crystal Palace this summer, as their target man. With his height Wednesday will be looking to get a lot of crosses in and long balls, I don’t see this working well against Jason Pearce and Tom Lees (one of the better centre backs in the league).

Leeds will be expecting to challenge for the play-offs this year and the early signs are good. They look well organised and determined, something that was missing for long periods last season. In Noel Hunt, Luke Varney and Ross McCormack they have three players that will create chances and score goals at this level.

I have Leeds winning this game a minimum five times out of ten so I’m happy to take the 2.10 on offer. They are a better side and come May they will be a long way clear of Sheffield Wednesday.

[symple_box color=”green” text_align=”center” width=”100%” float=”none”]Back Leeds at 2.10 – General[/symple_box]

[symple_heading type=”h4″ title=”Birmingham v Brighton” margin_top=”20px;” margin_bottom=”20px” text_align=”left”]

I took Brighton on last week when laying them at 1.98 and backing Derby at 4.50. I was reward win a 2-1 victory for Derby County. Brighton have started the season the same way as Sheffield Wednesday, played two lost two and dumped out the cup by lower league opposition (Newport), yet they are priced up as favourites to win at Birmingham.

Brighton still have the same issues as last season – a lack of a goal threat. They like to pass the ball around and say they have the highest possession stats in the league along with massive attendances. Unfortunately for them though it takes more than that to win football matches. They went a year without losing when they scored the opening goal but that streak has now ended after they scored first in their three games this season and went on to lose all of them. What is more concerning though is that they haven’t won a game from behind since beating Doncaster way back in August 2011.

They look low on confidence and it will be interesting to see what happens if they conceded the first goal in a game, as I don’t see much fight in the side. Obviously they’ll need time to settle under the new boss and getting used to a new style after a summer of upheaval and bad press. At this time though they don’t look like the side that finished 4th last season. I currently have them finishing in 14th, whilst I have Birmingham in 8th. Birmingham look a lot more solid that they did last season and teams will struggle to score against them. On the opening day of the season they were beaten 1-0 by Watford who on early form look the most likely to win the league, they then followed this up with a 1-0 victory at Yeovil.

On current form and where I believe these teams will end up at the end of the season I would price Birmingham up at around the 2.30 mark. The current odds give them a 34% chance of winning this but for the home side against a team of similar stature you’d expect that to have around a 45% chance.

[symple_box color=”green” text_align=”center” width=”100%” float=”none”]Back Birmingham at 2.88 – Bet365[/symple_box]

[symple_heading type=”h4″ title=”Derby v Leicester” margin_top=”20px;” margin_bottom=”20px” text_align=”left”]

Last weekend Derby made me some money when they won at Brighton and I also made money by laying a Leicester side, who I believe are again overrated, at 1.80. Leicester have players who can at times put it all together and put in a performance, however they just don’t do it enough to warrant the odds that they are. There are also question marks over Nigel Pearson’s tactics, he sets his side out to be very defensive minded which doesn’t seem to suit Nugent and Vardy up front. The papers may say they play a 3-5-2 but it’s not, it’s a 5-3-2. Paul Konchesky and Ritchie De Laet are not great going forward and if they are going to be asked to play as wingers it will leave Leicester with problems this season due to them being out of position a lot.

Derby should be able to capitalise on this with Will Hughes and Craig Forsyth down the left. Jeff Hendrick and Craig Bryson should match-up well against the Leicester pair of Matty James and Danny Drinkwater in the middle, so a lot is going to come down to the managers tactics. At the moment I think that Nigel Pearson will be happy to come here and settle for a point, which is fair enough but I think his plan could easily backfire.

Leicester will probably finish ahead of Derby come May but I think that is going to be due to their squad depth and general experience. In terms of the players that will be on the pitch on Saturday I don’t see a great deal of difference between the two sides so I’ve priced Derby up at around 2.30.

[symple_box color=”green” text_align=”center” width=”100%” float=”none”]Back Derby at 2.50 – General[/symple_box]







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