There’s no Christmas break in the English football league, and the Championship returns over Monday and Tuesday for another round of fixtures after Boxing Day’s festive treats. This time of year always throws up some odd results, but we’ve got what looks like three solid bets lined up to take us into the New Year.
Burnley are a strong side at this level and promotion back to the big time is not a lost cause by any means, as they remain in and around the play-off places despite the recent downturn in results. They’ve failed to get the results away from home this season, but still have the 4th best home record in the division and will look to build on that when Bristol City come to visit Turf Moor.
Birmingham also catch the eye, and they’ve been hovering just below the play-offs for much of the season. Home form has deserted them for much of the season and it’s the away results that have got them where they are, but there are signs that Gary Rowett is turning things around and they welcome poor travelers MK Dons on Tuesday afternoon. Meanwhile two of the division’s worst defences go head-to-head when Fulham host Rotherham and there should be goals aplenty at Craven Cottage.
Burnley v Bristol City
The Clarets might have been on a six-game winless run prior to last weekend’s 4-0 rout of Charlton, but four of those six were away games and Burnley are much better at Turf Moor. They face another tricky away game at Hull on Boxing Day (yet to be played at the time of writing), but regardless of the result they should be too good for the Robins here.
At Turf Moor it’s 7 wins out of 10 and overall they have the 4th best home record in the division, behind Middlesbrough, Hull and Brighton. Manager Sean Dyche said after the Charlton game that the second half was the most ‘fluid’ Burnley had been all season, which is excellent timing as we move into a crucial stage of the season. They will see this as a must win game en route to promotion, and we can be sure of attacking intent from the word go.
The Robins might have been hoping they could enjoy Christmas, but it’s a tough schedule and one which could shape their season. They face a crucial tie at home against fellow relegation candidate Charlton, and that match could be vital to both sides’ survival chances. This trip is not one they’ll relish after that do-or-die game, and their away form does little to inspire confidence. They’ve suffered heavy defeats at Rotherham and Derby recently, although they did manage a 2-1 win at Huddersfield at the start of December which offers a crumb of hope. However, it’s their only win in nine on the road, and Burnley is a very tough place to go.
Birmingham v MK Dons
The Blues have had a strange record this season, which on away form would see them 4th in the league, but on home form as low as 14th. They’ve suffered five defeats at St Andrew’s, but they’ve also won four of their eleven at home, including last weekend’s 1-0 win over Cardiff. Prior to Boxing day’s trip to Sheffield Wednesday, Birmingham sit in 8th place just a point outside the play-offs, and overall it has been a good season so far.
MK Dons have only gained six points from their eleven away games this season, with the only win coming at Rotherham back in August. They’ve drawn three and lost the other seven, and it’s no surprise that they find themselves in 21st place just a point clear of the bottom three. Their home form has been better, and they’ll try to take advantage of that when Cardiff visit on Boxing Day, and this will be a tough follow-up just two days later.
Birmingham’s win against Cardiff may have had an element of fortune to it but they can take heart from the result and start building up a run on home ground.
Fulham v Rotherham
Finally, over 2.5 goals looks a great call when Fuham take on Rotherham on Tuesday night at -110 with Coral
These two sides have the two worst defensive records in the league, with Fulham shipping 39 and Rotherham conceding 38. Both can score goals too, with Fulham racking up an impressive 36 and Rotherham a more average 24. Tuesday night’s game looks primed for goals with both teams in need of points in the quest for survival.
Fulham have a very hard game at Derby on Boxing Day and Rotherham have what they will see as a must-win against Bolton at home, so the teams may approach those games differently. Both will see this as an opportunity for points though, and it could be a real humdinger. Fulham’s last ten games have featured 40 goals between them, and although they are winless in eight, there’s no shortage of attacking intent. Rotherham have tended to be a little tighter on their travels than at home, and the only worry is that they try to shut up shop, but with such a porous defence that’s a dangerous strategy.
Fulham will go for the jugular from the off and that will always leave space in behind for Rotherham to exploit. If the game sees an early goal the floodgates could well open.
Burnley to beat Bristol City
Monday 28th December, 15:00 GMT
Birmingham to beat MK Dons
Monday 28th December, 15:00 GMT
Fulham v Rotherham – Over 2.5 goals
Tuesday 29th December, 19:45 GMT
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