Many people questioned Chris Coleman’s decision when he left the Wales international post to take the job at Sunderland, but the man who brought such success to the Welsh side is already having an impact at the Stadium of Light. After a very impressive 0-0 draw at leaders Wolves, the Black Cats went on to break their year-long wait for a home victory with a 1-0 win against Fulham last week.
That record shows the scale of the task for Coleman, and with Sunderland in 21st place in the Championship, there is much work to do. They are given the perfect opportunity to follow up this week with another match at home – against bottom club Birmingham City. The Blues are now below Bolton on goal difference and have only won once in the last ten games.
Sunderland may not be pressing for promotion back to the Premier League this term, but two teams with that target very much in mind are Cardiff and Derby. The former visit Bolton on Saturday looking to strengthen their position in the top two. Neil Warnock’s Bluebirds are 2nd only to Wolves but have a four-point gap over third-placed Bristol City. Bolton’s mini-revival has stalled after three defeats in four games, including a damaging 1-0 home loss to relegation rivals Burton Albion last week.
Derby County are up to 4th in the table after a sustained run of form, which includes winning the last three matches without conceding a goal. They play host to a Millwall side on Saturday which has failed to win on the road all season. The Lions are 17th and making a decent effort at consolidation after promotion last season, but Derby are on a good run and might even be starting to live up to the potential of their expensively-assembled squad.
Sunderland v Birmingham
Sunderland are 1/12.00+1001.001.00-1.00 with BetVictor to make it back-to-back victories on Saturday, and Chris Coleman’s side could be worth following in the coming weeks.
The Black Cats have taken seven points from fifteen since he took charge, losing to Villa and Reading, drawing with Wolves, and beating Burton and Fulham. They’ve kept back-to-back clean sheets and the monkey is off the back at home. Sunderland’s last home win was on the 17th of December 2017 and it has been a long 364 days for fans to wait to see their side win at the Stadium of Light. Like buses, victories may come along two at once with the visit of Birmingham on Saturday.
The Blues are rock-bottom of the table and have lost four of the last five matches. They have the worst away record in the entire division, gathering just two points on their travels from eleven games. With just eleven goals, they are also the Championship’s lowest scorers and the signs are not good for Steve Cotterill’s side.
Bolton v Cardiff
Bolton rallied to claw their way off the bottom of the table but three defeats in the last four have knocked them back. Cardiff can make matters worse for the Trotters at odds of 23/202.15+1151.151.15-0.87 with BetVictor on Saturday.
The Bluebirds have continued to improve under Neil Warnock this season and the veteran manager may have one more promotion in him yet. Cardiff are on a run of five wins in six games and sit comfortably second, hot on the heels of leaders Wolves. Those two have opened up a small gap at the top and the challenge for them both is to stay there. In order to do so, Cardiff ought to be winning matches against teams in the bottom three.
Bolton revival saw them go seven games without defeat, but that run was brought to a crashing end with a 5-1 thrashing at Wolves. To the Trotters’ credit, they bounced back to beat Barnsley 3-1, but have since lost to both Nottingham Forest and Burton. The 1-0 home defeat to the latter especially damaging as it saw Albion leapfrog Bolton. The relegation battle will go right to the end of the season but the Trotters’ points are more likely to come from the teams around them than from the teams challenging for promotion.
Derby v Millwall
The same can be said of Millwall, who face a tall order away at Derby on Saturday. The Rams are taken to make it four wins in a row at odds of 17/201.85-1180.85-1.180.85 with 888Sport.
Millwall have fared better than Bolton after promotion but along with Birmngham, they make up the three sides which are yet to win away in the Championship this season. The Lions have performed the best of the three with six draws and five defeats from eleven road games, but that doesn’t inspire confidence for their trip to Derby. They’ve been in much better form on home ground and are always hard-to-beat, but they are unlikely to break the away hoodoo on Saturday.
Derby have won each of the last three games without conceding a goal, and five of the last six overall. They’ve taken three points from seven of the last ten home matches and have only suffered defeat twice – to Ipswich and Reading. Gary Rowett is doing an excellent job at Derby and they are a club which has knocked at the promotion door a couple of times over the last few seasons, without ever quite making it through. Up to fourth, the Rams could be in a position to put pressure on the top two, and that can start with a win at home to Millwall.
Eric has been a sports journalist for over 20 years and has travelled the world covering top sporting events for a number of publications. He also has a passion for betting and uses his in-depth knowledge of the sports world to pinpoint outstanding odds and value betting opportunities.
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