Plenty of fans will have their eyes on the start of the Premier League this weekend, and you can find our tips in the football section, but Championship fans have other things on their minds. England’s second tier kicked off last weekend, and it was a mixed bag for promotion hopefuls and the relegated clubs looking to bounce back at the first time of asking.
Norwich were superb in their 4-1 rout of Blackburn at Ewood Park, racing into a three goal lead and never looking back. They take on Sheffield Wednesday this Saturday back at Carrow Road, looking to set a winning run in motion. It was a different story for Newcastle as they were beaten away at Fulham, but a return to St James’ Park ought to bring about some improvement. Aston Villa were a tad unfortunate to go down 1-0 at Sheffield Wednesday after a goalkeeping howler, but the signs were there that Roberto Di Matteo is going to have his work cut out at the Villains this season.
We’re backing the two N’s of Newcastle and Norwich to assert their quality this Saturday, while the Lancashire derby between newly-promoted Wigan and Blackburn could well feature goals at a very tempting price.
Norwich v Sheffield Wednesday
The Canaries are +105 with William Hill to get the better of Owls in the televised evening kick off, and the price is worth taking at the right side of evens.
Wednesday are undoubtedly a much better side than the Blackburn team Norwich humiliated last week, but the Norfolk side still has plenty of Premier League quality and should be too strong in their first home fixture of the season. Cameron Jerome, Wes Hoolahan, Steven Naismith and youngster Jacob Murphy were on target in that 4-1 win, and that’s just a snapshot of the class in this Norwich team.
The likes of Howson, Tettey, Ruddy and Klose are top class players in the context of the championship, and manager Alex Neil has demonstrated that he is a shrewd operator. After winning promotion in his first season with the club he made a good fist of life in the Premier League, and Norwich only just fell short. Confidence remains high around the club and they’ll be there or thereabouts come the end of the season.
Wednesday got over the bitter disappointment of last year’s Wembley play off final defeat, and resumed winning ways with a 1-0 home win over Aston Villa last week. However, it was a poor kick from Villa keeper Gollini that gifted them victory in the 85th minute, when the game had looked to be heading for a draw.
This will be a very good test for Norwich, but with home advantage and the better quality, they are good value at a good price.
Newcastle v Huddersfield
Rafa Benitez’ men threw everything at Fulham in the 1-0 defeat last Friday night, but the Cottagers stood firm and created plenty of their own. However, Newcastle have long been a very strong side on home turf and this is a very presentable opportunity to get the first three points of the season on board. It’s a credit to the Newcastle fans that they will turn out in force to support their side despite the trials and tribulations of the last few years, and when they get behind their team it makes for an incredibly hostile atmosphere for the visitors.
Huddersfield grabbed a vital win of their own last week by beating Brentford 2-1 at home, but this is a very different proposition. The Magpies had enough quality to leave the likes of Jonjo Shelvey on the bench last week, and it wouldn’t be an overestimation to say he would probably walk into the majority of Championship teams. An attacking display is expected from the first whistle for the season opener at St James Park, and it would be no surprise to see Huddersfield eventually crack under the pressure.
Wigan v Blackburn
Finally, Marathonbet stand out at +120 about over 2.5 match goals when Wigan and Blackburn renew local rivalries in a Lancashire derby.
The days of Blackburn’s Premier League win are in the long and distant past, and one of our tipsters fancies them to fall further from grace with a drop into League One this season. Wigan meanwhile are on a different trajectory as they made the step back up from that division last term. While Rovers were losing 4-1 to Norwich last week, Wigan were being beaten 2-1 away at Bristol City, so both sides will be keen to get points on the board here.
The fact that it is a local derby adds a little bit of spice too, and if it’s short on quality it certainly won’t be short on heart and endeavour. Blackburn’s two competitive games (league and cup) so far this season have yielded nine goals, while Wigan’s two fixtures have both finished in 2-1 defeats.
At a decent price it’s well worth a punt that this one also features at least three goals.
Norwich to beat Sheffield Wednesday
Saturday 13th August, 17:30 GMT
Newcastle to beat Huddersfield
Saturday 13th August, 15:00 GMT
Wigan v Blackburn – Over 2.5 Goals
Saturday 13th August, 15:00 GMT