Steve Bruce has made an instant impact at Aston Villa since taking over, leading them to their first away win in over a year with the 2-1 victory at Reading. That was just his second game in charge after a 1-1 draw with Wolves previously, so this Saturday he’ll be looking for his first home win as he attempt to lead his new club up the table. Another club with a new manager is Cardiff, and Neil Warnock has also had the desired effect. His two games so far have resulted in a win and a draw, but he still has plenty of work to do to bring the Bluebirds out of the Championship relegation zone.
Regular readers of this column will know that we’ve won six out of six bets in the last week of Championship football, and we’re reinvesting the profits in the two aforementioned teams. Villa face a Fulham side that is dropping like a stone down the table, while Cardiff visit a Nottingham Forest team which can’t keep a clean sheet for love nor money. Meanwhile, we’re following the tried and trusted route of backing Newcastle to grab another three points when they host Ipswich on Saturday afternoon.
Aston Villa v Fulham
Wins breed confidence, and after a miserable start under Roberto Di Matteo, Steve Bruce’s appointment looks to have breathed new life into the club. They’ve always had a good squad of players for this level of football, but eight draws from 13 matches hasn’t been good enough so far. Bruce is a wily operator, and having experienced promotion with Hull last term, he knows what’s required to get out of this division.
After a run of six draws and a defeat in seven games, the 2-1 win at Reading was welcome relief for players and fans alike. One would expect the Villains to come out firing on home soil this Saturday afternoon, and Bruce will make sure his players are aware of how important it is to win home games in the Championship.
Fulham had a great start to the season, but they’ve won just one of the last nine matches and have fallen to 11th in the table. They produced a spirited fightback against Norwich last time out, to come back from 2-0 down and grab a 2-2 draw, but defensively they are not tight enough. They’ve conceded twice in each of the last three games, and if they give up two goals here they are unlikely to find two of their own against a well-drilled Bruce team.
Nottingham Forest v Cardiff
We’ve made plenty in the last few weeks by backing over 2.5 goals in Notts Forest games, and they’ve rarely let us down. They’ve conceded more goals than anyone in the division except for bottom club Rotherham, and they sit in 17th place just three points above the drop zone.
Cardiff are in that bottom three with 12 points, but a win here would take them level with their rivals. Neil Warnock is well-known for being a pragmatic manager that ensures his teams are organised, disciplined and have a great work ethic. It was those qualities that helped him lead Rotherham to safety from a desperate position last season, and it will be the minimum expectation from his new Cardiff side. The signs are already good, with a 2-1 win over Bristol City in his first game in charge, and a creditable 1-1 draw with a strong Sheffield Wednesday side in midweek.
Nottingham Forest have now lost five of the last seven games, and although they are scoring plenty, the goals against column is hurting them badly. Cardiff can get on the scoresheet here, and if Warnock has his men defensively organised, they may be able to limit Forest’s goal count sufficiently to take the three points.
Newcastle v Ipswich
The Magpies are -200 with BetVictor, and although you’ll never get rich at prices like that, it has to rate as one of the home bankers of the weekend.
It’s four wins on the bounce for Rafa Benitez and Newcastle finally hit the summit of the Championship with the 2-0 win over Barnsley in midweek. The challenge now is to stay there until the end of the season, and that can start with a win against Ipswich.
Mick McCarthy and the Tractor Boys have punched above their weight for a few years in the Championship, generally being in and around the play off places despite having a thin squad and a minimal budget. It’s testament to his managerial skills that they tend to do so well, but games away at the league leaders are always going to be tough. Ipswich have managed just one away win in the Championship this season – away at Derby – and one can’t see them adding to that tally here.
Aston Villa to beat Fulham
Saturday 22nd October, 15:00 GMT
Cardiff to beat Nottingham Forest
Saturday 22nd October, 17:30 GMT
Newcastle to beat Ipswich
Saturday 22nd October, 15:00 GMT