Boro and Burnley Set for Championship Stalemate

Middlesbrough goalkeeper Konstantopoulos has kept seven clean sheets in a row at the Riverside.

It’s another big week of football this week, with a full midweek fixture list for Championship sides before another round of games at the weekend. There’s no rest for the second tier though, as a double-header of matches looms on the horizon over Boxing Day and the following Bank Holiday Monday. In total it’s four games in just 14 days, and a great opportunity to get a maximum 12 points on the board before 2016.

Lat weekend’s games showed just how competitive this league is, with six of the ten fixtures last Saturday finishing all square, and there are some more games in midweek which are equally tough to call. 2nd meets 5th on Tuesday night as Middlesbrough host Burnley, while league leaders Brighton face another tough away trip, this time to QPR. The Seagulls scored a valuable point away at Derby on Saturday afternoon, but the Rams face a much easier home tie in midweek, as lowly Bristol City come to town. First up it’s goal-shy Boro and Burnley, who have managed just 15 goals between them in the last 10 matches combined.

Middlesbrough v Burnley

The draw looks a standout punt at  +250  with SkybetBet365 and Betfred

Burnley are just five points behind Middlesbrough in the table, and they’ve only suffered defeat once in the last eleven matches – a surprising home loss to Preston in the Lancashire derby. However, they are also winless in five, with four draws added to that defeat since a run of five wins in six catapulted them up the table. They thwarted our bet on QPR over the weekend by holding Rangers to a 0-0 draw, and it’s now five stalemates in seven on the road for the Clarets.

Middlesbrough started the season with a new attacking zest, but they seem to have returned to the tried and tested defensive style that served them so well last term. Apart from the uncharacteristic 3-0 defeat to Hull, they’ve kept clean sheets in the last six Championship games, having won five and drawn one of them. Their latest result was a 0-0 draw at home to Birmingham, which kept up an even more impressive defensive record at the Riverside, where they’ve kept seven clean sheets in a row which has led to five wins and two draws. They’ve also been held to a 0-0 at home by Fulham recently, and Burnley are sound enough at the back to make it hard for Boro.

This game has all the hallmarks of a tight, cagey affair, and the draw represents the best value on offer.

QPR v Brighton

It’s a similar situation for QPR, who take on unbeaten Brighton, and the draw makes plenty of appeal at  +190  with Betfred and Totesport

We backed Brighton to come away with at least a point last weekend when they visited in-form Derby, and it proved to be a wise choice as they were pegged back by the Rams for a 2-2 draw. Chris Hughton’s men have now gone 20 Championship games without defeat, and they can keep the run going with another point here.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink watched his first game as QPR boss on Saturday, as his side were held to a 0-0 by Burnley, and with this game coming next, he couldn’t have had a more difficult start. Away games at Ipswich and Bristol City follow over the Christmas period, so he will obviously be desperate to get another positive result on home ground. He must have been pleased with his side’s industry last weekend, although the appearance of Charlie Austin on the substitutes bench will surely raise question marks about his future with the January transfer window looming.

Rangers are unbeaten at home in seven games, with three wins and four draws, having been held by Burnley, Preston, Sheffield Wednesday and Blackburn in recent weeks. Brighton have drawn six of their last seven away games, and are proving to be incredibly solid and reliable this season. There’s a new air of optimism at Loftus Road under a new manager, but Hasselbaink may have to wait a little longer for his first victory in charge of the West London club, and Brighton are decent enough value to make it seven draws from eight on the road.

Derby v Bristol City

Finally, Derby are well worth following even at a relatively short price of  -163  with William Hill  to get the better of Bristol City.

The Robins beat Huddersfield 2-1 away from home last weekend to record their first win in five matches, and put a small amount of daylight between themselves and the relegation zone. They’re now three points above the bottom three, and survival will be the aim after promotion last season. That was something of an anomaly though, as it was just their 2nd win in the last ten on the road, with four draws and four defeats making much harder reading.

Derby have made great progress under new manager Paul Clement, and they’ve put an indifferent start behind them to climb to 4th in the table and put promotion back on the agenda. They’d won five in a row at home, scoring 12 and conceding just two, before Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Brighton, but Clement said afterwards that he was pleased by his players’ attitude as they clawed their way back into the game. Overall they’ve won 10 of the last 15 games in all competitions, home and away, with the only defeat during that sequence coming in the local derby against Nottingham Forest.

City have managed to snatch a few draws away from home this season, but they will struggle to contain a confident, free-scoring Derby side, and it would be a blow to the Ram’s promotion hopes if they failed to take all three points from this one.

Tips Summary

Middlesbrough and Burnley to Draw
Tuesday 15th December, 19:45 GMT
Odds:  +250

QPR and Brighton to Draw
Tuesday 15th December, 19:45 GMT
Odds:  +190

Derby to beat Bristol City
Tuesday 15th December, 19:45 GMT
Odds:  -163


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