Sunday's Sky Bet Championship action sees two of the promotion hopefuls feature. Tom Carnduff picks out two best bets.
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Bristol City v Sheffield Wednesday
- 12:00 BST on Sky Sports Football
Bristol City remain in the play-off hunt but suffered a setback after they were beaten 3-1 away at Blackburn last time out. For Wednesday, Connor Wickham's late header rescued a point for them against Nottingham Forest.
Sporting Life had access to that game at Hillsborough and the new eerie feel that comes with football in the Sky Bet Championship. The screams of players and coaches have replaced the usual roar of the crowd and it was an interesting experience.
Wednesday looked fairly flat in that draw with Forest. The expected lack of sharpness present throughout the league but the game possessed little quality at both ends. The 2.02 xG posted by Garry Monk's men compared with the 0.52 from the visitors suggests that they deserved to win.
For Bristol City, they will be eager to return to winning ways after a poor second-half of the season so far. They're now down in tenth and could be five points adrift of the play-offs heading into this one depending on Saturday's results.
The problem for the Robins is that there are so many teams involved in that play-off hunt. Their form has left them 6/1 outsiders to finish in the top-six this season and they are looking at favours from elsewhere to help their push up the table.
In all honesty this game shouldn't be the highlight of the weekend; in fact there's every chance that it could be the complete opposite. The Asian Handicap having both teams at 0 currently also indicates that the money is unsure what to expect. The odds-on price for under 2.5 goals suggests it will be a low-scoring contest.
Therefore the value could be in the cards market given John Brooks' appointment as referee. He sits third in the Championship for yellow cards given out this season; a total of 80 from 22 fixtures.
That could be a problem for Sheffield Wednesday's Barry Bannan. The Owls midfielder was vocal in his 'feedback' to the official during that 1-1 draw against Forest. He's also got eight league yellows on his tally already.
Bannan has seen more than one foul in multiple games this season and, given the break, this could be another one of those games. Sheffield Wednesday also sit top of the charts for average fouls conceded per game with 15.4. That was evident when referee Brooks handed out seven yellow cards in their 1-2 defeat to QPR in August.
A point of interest is that Brooks has overseen three Wednesday games this season; all three have ended with Bannan being shown a yellow card. The official is certainly aware of the midfielder.
This doesn't strike you as the type of contest that will see a high number of goals. Both are struggling for a win and the lengthy stoppage won't have aided the chances of the overs mark being hit.
In terms of the outright result, it's worth sitting on the fence and taking the 23/10 on the draw. Neither side has demonstrated that they are better than the other in 'recent' outings and little has been on display to give enough confidence in the outright odds.
Instead, it does look like a fixture that could see cards and that's why it's worth backing Bannan to be carded at good odds of 16/5. The value would still be there if that price drifts closer to 2/1.
Score prediction: Bristol City 1-1 Sheffield Wednesday (Sky Bet odds: 5/1)
Best bet: Barry Bannan to be shown a card at 16/5
- Bristol City have lost their last three league games against Sheffield Wednesday, including a 2-1 home defeat last season.
- Sheffield Wednesday haven’t kept an away league clean sheet at Bristol City since May 1921, conceding in 21 consecutive such visits since.
- Bristol City have kept just two clean sheets in their last 10 home league games, shipping at least twice in seven games in that run (19 conceded in total).
- Sheffield Wednesday have won just one of their last 11 league games (D4 L6), while they lost their last away league game 0-5 back in March (against Brentford).
- Bristol City have scored a league-high 19 headed goals in the Championship this season, and a league-low one goal from outside the box.
Nottingham Forest v Huddersfield
- 14:15 BST on Sky Sports Football
Forest will have left Hillsborough annoyed at the late goal they conceded last week; the extra two points would have kept them level with Brentford and seven points adrift of the top-two.
It did keep them four points clear of the chasing pack though and a play-off finish will be the aim for Sabri Lamouchi's men this season. Victory over struggling Huddersfield will further strengthen their position in the top-six.
The Terriers will be fearing back-to-back relegations having fallen out of the Premier League last season. Even after making an early managerial switch and bringing in Danny Cowley, they find themselves one point above the drop zone. They could well head into this game in the bottom-three.
Last week's defeat to fellow strugglers Wigan would have hurt. Three points there would have gone a long way in their hopes for survival even with the likelihood of a high points tally for relegation.
Forest haven't been able to replicate their good run of results from August to October but they have enjoyed a solid enough second-half of the season. Like the rest of the promotion hopefuls, consistency has been an issue and that will need addressing for the final run-in.
Lamouchi's side have struggled at home this season but that could go out of the window given the lack of crowd. The same could perhaps be said for Huddersfield and their poor record on the road. In what could be a straight shootout between the two sides, Forest have to be considered as the likely winners.
Forest are 6/5 across the board for victory here but it's worth squeezing out the extra bit of value by delving into the stats-based markets and backing Matty Cash to have at least one shot on target.
The flying full-back grabbed the assist on Joe Lolley's goal against Wednesday with his lofted through ball down the line and he continues to pose an attacking threat down the right. It's why top-level clubs were linked with a move for him in January.
Cash has posted at least one shot in each of his last four appearances and scored in the away draw at West Brom back in February; that was his third goal of the campaign.
Given the opponent, Cash will be utilised in a more attacking role as opposed to a defensive one and will look to create opportunities for his side. That also includes trying to find the net himself.
The odds of 9/4 available on a shot on target or more for the defender looks appealing given the game. There is 11/1 available on a goal but it's worth playing safer and taking good enough value in the stats market.
The Asian Handicap gives Forest the slight edge with the hosts currently on -0.25. Huddersfield are in a relegation battle but their result against Wigan is far more worrying than Forest's draw at Sheffield Wednesday.
The hosts have to be winning games like this if they are to finish in the play-offs; they'll know the importance of the fixture. A Forest win should be included in any Sunday accumulators.
Score prediction: Nottingham Forest 1-0 Huddersfield (Sky Bet odds: 11/2)
- Nottingham Forest have won just one of their last seven league games against Huddersfield (W1 D1 L5), a 2-0 win in the last such meeting at the City Ground in April 2017.
- Huddersfield have lost six of their last eight league visits to the City Ground, winning the other two in 2014-15 and 2015-16.
- Nottingham Forest have failed to score in each of their last three home Championship games, despite attempting 47 shots with an expected goal value of 3.5 across these matches.
- Huddersfield haven’t kept a clean sheet in any of their last eight Championship away games (W1 D2 L5) since a 1-0 win at Charlton in December.
- Only Leeds (17) have kept more clean sheets in the Championship this season than Nottingham Forest (13).
Odds correct at 1430 BST (25/06/20)
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