Sheffield United v Barnsley
The Blades haven’t perhaps been at their sharpest of late but their first half display at Bloomfield Road was an improvement on recent displays. Blackpool came into that match as the most in form team in the Championship in terms of expected points and United were by dar the better side away from home.
That level of performance should be enough to deal with a Barnsley side that although picking up nsome points and battling against the drop are still putting in performances that rank them right down at the bottom of the league. The Tykes are still conceding chances that would expect their opponents to score a likely 2 goals in a game.
Couple this with Sheffield United’s home record in which they have created over 1.5xG per 90 in 13 of the last 15 matches at Brammall Lane and it would appear likely that the chances will be there for them to score at least twice in the match. If that does play out to be the case it is difficult to see Barnsley being able to match that.
Paul Heckingbottom’s use of Morgan Gibbs-White and Sander Berge has been key to Sheffield United’s improvement. The ball carrying and on-ball ability of the pair allows Billy Sharp to concentrate on movement and Fleck/Norwood to play centrally and pick out the best passes as well as covering their defence. They are conceding very few chances at the moment as well so The Blades look a solid bet to win this match.
Bristol City v West Brom
Bristol City are entering into the zone of “on the beach”. There is very little chance of them being relegated and no chance of a playoff berth. Nigel Pearson is not the type of manager to allow a group of players to simply stop playing, but he has shown himself to be the type of manager of Bristol City to give young players their head and to allow them to make mistakes in the name of development.
There has been a change in their approach, intentional or not, in that they are no longer creating chances in the volume they were when they were such an attractive ‘overs’ bet. They are better going forward at home than away but it has been 10 games since they created over 1.5xG in a match.
West Brom had obviously been struggling for a long time to get results under Valerian Ismael and then Steve Bruce but there are signs of a revival now. They have won the xG battle in 5 out of their last 6 matches, including on Tuesday against the flying Fulham. Also in that match they restricted Fulham to 8 shots and 0 big chances.
It may be too much of an ask for West Brom to repeat that exact level of performance at Ashton Gate, but it may only require 70-80% of that to get the win. West Brom have the better players and now that confidence has been restored and a plan put in place by a manager who has an excellent record of getting results at this level WBA look a good bet at odds against here.
Swansea v Birmingham
Another pair of clubs with little to play for on paper, but Russell Martin’s Swans are going through something of a redevelopment. From a team that was averaging close to 70% possession early on in the season it seems as though Martin has pivoted slightly to attempt to enable more thrust in the Swans’ attacking movements.
This has allowed Michael Obafemi to hit his stride in a Swansea shirt and quickly motor to 10 league goals having looked to be struggling in the early part of the season. With Obafemi’s dynamism and intelligent movement in behind paired with the skill of Joel Piroe to drop into gaps and link play the Swansea forward threat has more variety to it now.
Birmingham have gone back to the opposite end of the problem. Having had some impetus given by their January signings, Blues have failed to more than 1xG per 90 of chances in four consecutive games now. Lyle Taylor has had some fitness issues, Tahith Chong is coming back from serious injury and it is fair to say that Lee Bowyer hasn’t got that much depth in forward areas.
Birmingham are likely to allow Swansea the ball for long swathes of this match and, frankly, this is what Swansea also want. This may well be a tight encounter but I certainly want to be with Swans in this scenario, especially coming back off a morale boosting injury time winner in midweek. They are beginning to show the character that Martin has been looking for for a while.
QPR v Peterborough
Both sides will be desperate for points in this match. Often this scenario means that teams will play it tight and not want to lose, but a point probably isn’t enough for either club in their respective scenarios.
Backing overs in the goals also requires some faith in the managers in charge of the two clubs. Mark Warburton and Grant McCann are managers that I trust to be looking to score goals at all times. Often this means chasing the game or setting up to attack and leaving themselves open.
Peterborough under McCann have been quite profligate defensively, indeed Posh have been guilty of conceding the most chances in the league this season. Away from home their record is even worse, averaging just short of 2xG against per 90 in the league. Reading are the next worst in this category but a long way ahead of Peterborough.
The results for QPR have really fallen away over the last couple of months, both players and fans will be expecting a reaction to this here in this fixture. Their most recent matches have shown an uptick in chance creation, creating over 1xG in each of the last three matches. However, there is little confidence in the side so backing the Super Hoops for a win seems too risky so a bet on the overs is a more prudent selection.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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