There are six games taking place in the Sky Bet Championship on Wednesday. George Pitts picks out his best bets.
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Bristol City v Derby
A fascinating clash at Ashton Gate between two sides that should be hoping for the play-offs, but it is only Bristol City in with a realistic chance as Derby remain 17 points adrift of the top six.
With 15 games still left to play, Phillip Cocu will not be ruling anything completely out yet. Especially after three successive wins in a row in all competitions and just one defeat in their last 11.
Derby have become hard to beat, while Bristol City need to bounce back from defeat to keep in touch with the rest of the pack, so it could be a decent watch. Could it be scrappy? hopefully.
Geoff Eltringham is the man in charge and his record shows a tendency to be involved in games with a high card count. In his last four Sky Bet EFL fixtures, he has shown 22 yellow cards. In two of those games, he had his cards out on seven occasions each time.
The County Durham official is not afraid of stamping his authority on a game and you cannot help but be drawn to the bookings market for this clash.
Derby are actually fourth in the Championship's disciplinary charts with 64 yellows and three reds this term (FYI, Barnsley top it with 74 yellows and a red). Lee Johnson's Bristol City however, are in the bottom six, with just 46 yellows and a red to their name.
In Eltringham's last four EFL games, the away team has received at least three bookings and with the way this game is expected to go you would not rule it out again here.
With that in mind, Derby could dig in and at least 30 booking points for the Rams is a realistic shout at an appealing 2/1 price.
Best bet: 30+ Derby booking points at 2/1
- Bristol City have lost just once in their last seven league games against Derby (W2 D4), though it was in this fixture last season at Ashton Gate.
- Derby have won three of their last five away league games against Bristol City (D1 L1), with those wins achieved under three different managers (Clough, Wassall, Lampard).
- Bristol City have lost their last two league matches played on Wednesday, conceding four goals in each defeat to West Brom (1-4) and Brentford (0-4).
- Following their 3-2 win at Swansea at the weekend, Derby are looking to secure back-to-back away league wins for the first time since January 2018.
- Derby’s Martyn Waghorn has been involved in three goals in his last two league games (2 goals, 1 assist), as many as he had in his previous 12 (3 goals).
Reading v West Brom
Reading were unfortunate not to get the win on Saturday after conceding to Hull late on.
Mark Bowen's side are now without a win in their last seven in all competitions, but they are still scoring. They face a tough task against league leaders West Brom here, but they can at least grab a goal and have something to cheer about.
Slaven Bilic's Baggies got a clean sheet at Millwall in difficult conditions on Sunday, but that was a bit of a rarity as both teams have scored in 21 of Albion's 31 games.
With that in mind, a goalscorer to consider for the home side at an appealing 5/1 price is John Swift, who was the Royals' best performer at the weekend.
The 24-year-old midfielder has five goals and nine assists (three of those strikes came in three successive games across the Christmas period) to his name in 26 Championship appearances this term - proof he is key to the team going forward.
The former Chelsea man has set up two goals in their last two games and his rate of shooting shows just why he has a decent return.
He has registered three shots in his last two home matches and averages just under two per game across the course of the season. His eye for goal in and around the box could be key for Reading to salvage something here.
Best bet: John Swift to score anytime at 5/1
- Reading are unbeaten in their last seven home league games against West Bromwich Albion (W4 D3) since losing 2-0 in January 1995.
- West Brom have only won three of their last 16 games against Reading in all competitions (W3 D6 L7).
- Following a run of four consecutive wins, Reading are winless in their last six Championship matches (D4 L2).
- West Brom are unbeaten in their last seven league games played on Wednesday (W4 D3) since a 1-4 loss vs Derby in October 2018.
- Only the current bottom three in the Championship (Barnsley, Wigan and Luton) have won fewer home points in the division this season than Reading (20).
Stoke v Preston
Another great goalscorer fancy if you are looking for a small play at a larger price.
Stoke are on the up under Michael O'Neill, with four wins and a draw in their last six league games to move five points clear of the drop zone.
They had a setback at Derby last week, a shock 4-0 defeat, but they bounced back well at home to Charlton on Saturday and here they have a great chance to add more points against a Preston side that has struggled on the road at times this term.
If Alex Neil's side had been more consistent away from home, they would be in, or pushing, the top two. That being said, they have improved in recent games, winning two and drawing one in their last three.
Their record now reads four wins and five draws in 15 away outings, which makes slightly better reading.
But Stoke are one of the league's form teams (tied on points in the last six games form table with Brentford, Derby and Fulham) and it could well be a close contest.
There are two fancies in the scoring markets well worth considering. The first is the 4/1 available on Nick Powell - an attacking midfielder who scored at the weekend and was the Potters' man of the match, showing some of that promise which saw him shoot into the limelight as a youngster.
Now 25, he is playing with confidence and will be keen to add to his 2020 goal tally which currently stands at two (and two assists). For an attacking midfielder with this role in the team, this is a certainly a great price.
Another is on a midfielder at a slightly larger 13/2. Joe Allen is known for sitting slightly deeper, but his role under O'Neill has seen the Welshman key in the final third.
He has three goals to his name this season and two assists. He hasn't scored since a double at home to Luton in December but his shooting stats show he is keen to end that run, taking six in his last three outings.
Five of those attempts came at home and he is not afraid to try his luck. You would expect him to bag in the near future and at this price he is worth a look in for a home clash in which Stoke can net a couple.
- Stoke have won just one of their last eight league games against Preston (D3 L4).
- Preston are looking to complete a league double over Stoke for the first time since the 1990-91 campaign.
- Stoke are unbeaten in their last six home league games (W4 D2) and are looking to secure three consecutive wins at the bet365 Stadium for the first time since December 2018.
- Preston have won three of their last four league games (D1), more than they had in their previous 11 (W2 D3 L6).
- Preston’s Tom Barkhuizen has scored three goals in his last three league games, following a run of 14 without a goal.
A BTTS four-fold, enhanced to 12/1 thanks to our friends at Sky Bet:
- Bristol City v Derby
- Huddersfield v Cardiff
- Reading v West Brom
- Stoke v Preston
Odds correct as of 1100 GMT on 10/02/20
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