Mike Norman’s Championship column is now guaranteed to finish in profit for the third season in a row following two more winners in midweek. Here’s our man’s selections ahead of Saturday’s key fixtures…
Blackpool 4.1n/a v Leeds 2.111/10; The Draw 3.55/2
Blackpool will be playing League One football next season and judging by their performance on Tuesday night it already looks like they’ve had enough for this campaign.
Lee Clark’s men gave themselves the tiniest hope of survival when they won twice in the space of three weeks at the turn of the year, but they were then thrashed at Norwich before losing in the last minute to Middlesbrough, and it’s been a tale of woe ever since.
It’s six straight defeats now for The Tangerines and in that time they’ve scored just a single goal. They lost heavily at home to a poor Wigan side, and on Tuesday they looked devoid of confidence as they went down 0-3 to Charlton at Bloomfield Road.
Leeds’ recent form has gone a little unnoticed, but they are undoubtedly one of the form teams in the Championship having won eight of their last 12 games including victories over title-chasing Bournemouth and Middlesbrough in that spell, plus an emphatic 0-3 at Fulham in midweek.
Neil Redfearn’s men aren’t exactly prolific goalscorers but they’ve kept five clean sheets in their last nine matches and it’s easy to envisage them keeping Clark’s men at bay in this fixture. I wouldn’t normally advise an even money shot away from home, but Blackpool are so poor that they simply have to be opposed.
Back Leeds to Win @ 2.111/10
Watford 2.111/10 v Ipswich 3.7511/4; The Draw 3.613/5
Watford landed the odds when we made them our best bet selection in midweek and I see no reason to desert them here.
The Hornets are easily the most in-form side in the Championship; they’ve won 10, drew one, and lost just two of their last 13 league fixtures – that’s 31 points taken from the last 39 available which is title-winning form.
Watford’s 0-2 win at Wigan on Tuesday night took them to the top of the table, but the hard part is staying there. Slavisa Jokanovic‘s men face Ipswich, Derby, and Middlesbrough in their next three matches and the easiest of those fixtures may well be Saturday’s home game against the Tractor Boys.
Ipswich are the one side at the top of the table who appear to be on a downward spiral. Prior to their midweek win over Bolton, Mick McCarthy‘s men had lost six of their previous 11 league outings, and alarmingly they’ve lost five of their last six away from home.
Daryl Murphy has gone off the boil, and when that happens then Ipswich tend to suffer. The 32-year-old striker will need to be back to his best at Vicarage Road if his side are to get anything from this fixture, but such is the attacking talent on show for the Hornets I fancy the home side will be far too strong.
The likes of Troy Deeney (seven in his last six) and Matej Vydra (four in his last five) can’t stop hitting the back of the net at present, and when you have firepower like that in your side you’re always going to stand a great chance of winning.
Back Watford to Win @ 2.111/10
Wigan 2.226/5 v Bolton 3.711/4; The Draw 3.412/5
Anyone who followed this column regularly last season will remember I ended up sounding like a broken record when talking about Birmingham’s home form in contrast to their away form. The Blues just couldn’t win at St Andrews but they were very decent on the road. Following the trend proved very profitable.
It seems that this season’s Birmingham are Wigan. You have to go way back to August 2014 to find the last time the Latics won at the DW Stadium – that’s a run of 16 home games over a period of almost seven months without a single win. It truly is awful form.
Incredibly Wigan have won four on the spin away from home – as I say, the trend is a mirror image of Birmingham from last season – but in front of their own fans their form is getting worse. Malky Mackay‘s men have lost six consecutive games on home soil, scoring just a single goal in over 540 minutes of football.
So the message is a simple one. Oppose Wigan blindly at the DW Stadium. It goes without saying that the trend will end eventually, but until it does then it’s impossible to ignore it.
Bolton are Wigan’s opponents on Saturday and Neil Lennon’s men are in mixed form, winning two, drawing one, and losing two of their last five league matches. Away from home they’ve suffered single-goal defeats at Middlesbrough, Blackburn, and Ipswich recently, but this game is more about Wigan’s home form than anything else and I’m happy to side with The Trotters at a very generous 3.711/4.
Back Bolton to Win @ 3.711/4 (best bet)
You can follow me on Twitter – @MikkyMo73
Championship 2014/15 Season P/L
*based on 1pt each bet, 2pts best bet