We look at the betting in the Sky Bet Championship on Saturday, with a focus on the games live on Sky Sports.
For details of advised bookmakers and each-way terms, visit our transparent tipping record
It's an intriguing, if not altogether exciting, match up at Oakwell on Saturday night as two of the Sky Bet Championship's in-form sides face-off.
They managed only three shots on target between them in the reverse fixture on December 19, with Swansea racing ahead inside two minutes through Jamal Lowe before being gifted a second goal when Victor Adeboyejo’s inexplicably bundled the ball into his own net just after the hour as Barnsley pushed hard for an equaliser.
That defeat did little to disrupt the Tykes, though, who have lost only once since - and that was a narrow 1-0 defeat at league leaders Norwich. Six wins from eight is pretty good going, but so is Swansea's four wins from five with just the one goal conceded.
Keeping things tight has been the blueprint for Steve Cooper's Swansea this term, and the basis for the excellent form that has seen them rise to second in the table at the halfway stage. A staggering 21 of their 25 matches in all competitions have produced under 2.5 goals, with the four exceptions all involving just the one additional goal.
Barnsley have performed something of a shift in that department. Four of their five Championship games before Gerhard Struber jumped ship to New York Red Bulls were under 2.5 affairs - it's only eight in 20 since. They are not free-scoring, though.
Watford are the only other team in the current top nine to have scored fewer than these two’s 27 goals. Again, Barnsley’s lack of potency is a little misleading thanks to the one goal in five under Struber, but this still has all the hallmarks of being a tight encounter.
The fact Swansea have the best defence of any team in the Premier League and EFL, breached only 15 times in 25 fixtures in all competitions, only further feeds into that notion.
Remarkably, the Tykes are yet to draw a game under their French head coach Valerien Ismael, whose impressive record now stands at 11 wins and six defeats.
Norwich (1-0), Swansea (2-0), Brentford (1-0) and Blackburn (2-1) all won narrowly, with the hammerings dished out by Bournemouth (4-0) and Cardiff (3-0) anomalies in Barnsley’s season. An impressive home win over Watford, then in the top two, earlier in the campaign shows they can down the big boys of the division, so I’m hesitant to oppose them here.
Barnsley won't go Ismael's entire reign without drawing, so the lack of one shouldn't prevent us from backing it when it feels like the smart play.
Swansea have drawn a fraction under a third of their league games this season (seven of 23), and only Millwall drew more than their 16 in 2019/20’s Championship; the Swans more than make up for the Tykes draw drought.
Both meetings between the sides ended level last term, with it goalless in South Wales and 1-1 in South Yorkshire, and the general offering of 9/4 on looks good - much better than the 4/6 that under 2.5 goals, the other logical play, is trading at.
Stick them together and you’ll get 11/4, but that's not a big enough jump for me and 9/4 the draw is the best bet.
It might not be the sexy punt you were after, but 8/1 on it ending goalless is where I’m having a supplementary, small-stakes dart. It would be Swansea’s 10th in less than a season and a half of Championship action.
Score prediction: Barnsley 0-0 Swansea (Sky Bet odds: 7/1)
Odds correct at 1237 GMT (15/01/21)
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