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After the highs of international football it’s back to the bread and butter of the domestic campaign this weekend, and we’re taking a look at the Championship for Saturday’s value bets. Several clubs have had players away on international duty with their countries, and its at times like this in the hustle bustle of the second tier that managers must use their squads to their utmost potential.
Three clubs that have the resources to cope admirably are Middlesbrough, Burnley and Hull. Two of whom retain the nucleus (and numbers) of a Premier League squad, and one of which has gathered together one of the best groups of players in the division. All three are overpriced in our opinion for winnable games at the weekend, and there is value in following each of the teams – who will expect to be in the shake up for promotion come the end of the season. Let’s start with Middlesbrough, who welcome an unpredictable Fulham team to the Riverside on Saturday afternoon.
Middlesbrough v Fulham
Middlesbrough are -150 with Coral to make it five out of five on home ground.
After the disappointment of losing the play-off final to Norwich last season, Middlesbrough have gone full tilt at a title challenge this time around after signing some experienced and top quality players. David Nugent has hit the ground running since his move to the Riverside, while Fabbrini and Stuani are also scoring goals, with the likes of Stuart Downing providing the ammunition.
They are already 2nd in the table, two points behind long-time leaders Brighton, and victory on Saturday would take them top if the Seagulls fail to win at Leeds. Boro’s run of seven straight wins was brought to an abrupt end at in-form Reading last time out, and they’ll be determined to get straight back onto the winning track as soon as possible. They won’t get many better chances than a home game against Fulham’s leaky defence.
The Cottagers sit 13th in the table after a topsy turvy season so far which has seen them grab excellent results like the 4-0 thrashing of QPR, alongside absolute shockers like the 3-0 home defeat to Wolves which followed directly after. Goals have been an issue in West London, and although Fulham have scored 17 they’ve also conceded 16 – putting them among the worst defences in the division.
Having conceded just 7 goals, Boro have the joint-best defence in the league, and their significant firepower should be too much for Fulham on Saturday. A routine home win looks to be on the cards.
Burnley v Bolton
The Clarets are also looking for promotion back to the Premier league after relegation last term, and after a shaky start they’ve now won 5 in 7 in the league. They take on a Bolton side who are firmly rooted in the Championship drop zone having won just once all season.
Sean Dyche’s men are sixth in the table – one of four teams on 18 points – and a win here should consolidate their position in the top six. They’ve been decent at home in recent weeks with a three-game winning run prior to the 2-1 reverse at the hands of Reading a couple of weeks ago. They bounced back immediately with a 2-1 away win at Rotherham, and will look to continue the good work against Neil Lennon’s Bolton side, who simply can’t buy a win at the moment.
The Trotters are in dire straits at present, with everything apparently going against them. They’re 22nd in the league with just one win to their name, they have a striker crisis after veteran Emile Heskey was ruled out with injury and Swansea striker Emnes’ proposed loan deal fell through, and manager Lennon has been in trouble with the FA after comments about the referee in the 4-3 defeat to QPR.
There’s little to like about this Bolton side, and they’ve lost 4 of the last 5 away trips in the league. A price approaching evens on an organized outfit like Burnley at home is more than good enough to tempt us.
Sheffield Wednesday v Hull
The Owls have been in cracking form of late with three consecutive wins over Fulham, Brentford and Preston, although with all due respect to those sides, none are in any kind of form. However, you can only beat what’s in front of you, as the old addage goes, and Wednesday have certainly been doing that. They’re 10th in the table, just three points off the play-offs and Saturday’s visitors, so there’s plenty to play for.
Hull have also been in good form though, which has seen them elevated to 5th in the league, after alternating between wins and draws over the last five games. They did us a favour last time out with a 1-0 away win at Forest, which was their second road victory in a row after the 2-0 win at Cardiff. They have the necessary quality to come away from Sheffield with three points, and at the price are worth a small investment to do so.
Wednesday have made short work of their recent out-of-form rivals, but their previous two league defeats were against Burnley and Middlesbrough – two teams who have that little bit more class than most at this level. Hull fall into that category on their day, and will be protecting a five-game unbeaten run here.
Middlesbrough to beat Fulham
Saturday 17th October, 15:00 GMT
Burnley to beat Bolton
Saturday 17th October, 15:00 GMT
Hull to beat Sheffield Wednesday
Saturday 17th October, 12:30 GMT
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