It’s a tough fixture list in the Championship this weekend, with a glut of games that could go either way. This division, perhaps more than any other, is one in which anyone can beat anyone and sometimes the best bet is no bet. Rather than trying to call 50/50 games, we’re sticking to a policy that should pay dividends over the season by backing both Norwich and Newcastle to win home games against mediocre opposition. Meanwhile, Nottingham Forest have been generous to us in the over 2.5 goal market this season, and that trend can continue against Birmingham on Friday night.
There have been two managerial changes this week, and it is tempting to back the new men to have an instant impact at their new clubs. The hugely experienced Neil Warnock has taken charge at Cardiff, while Steve Bruce is likely to be named Villa boss by the time they kick off against Wolves on Saturday evening. Cardiff are +200 to beat Bristol City at home on Friday night, and Aston Villa are +102 to get the better of Wolves. That makes a tempting +500 double. One wouldn’t put any of our readers off having a speculative bet, but for the purposes of this column, we’ll wait to see just how much impact the two managers make.
A much more solid double is the Norwich-Newcastle pairing, which pays out at odds of around +100 .
Norwich v Rotherham
Norwich are -267 with Marathonbet to beat Rotherham at Carrow Road, and cement their place in the division’s top two.
Alex Neil’s men have been working well towards an instant return to the Premier League, and it’s now 7 wins from 11 games. Their only defeats have come in a surprise 3-0 loss at Birmingham, and that incredible 4-3 match at Newcastle. At home it’s a near perfect record as they’ve won all five games in front of their own fans since the 0-0 draw with Sheffield Wednesday back in August. They’re also on a run of 6 wins from 7 games home and away, with the only slip up at Newcastle – even though they led 3-2 with minutes remaining.
It’s entirely the opposite for Rotherham, who are looking more and more doomed as each week passes. The Millers are now firmly rooted to the bottom of the table with a meagre return of six points from 11 league games. They’re three from safety already, and have lost the last four games on the spin. They’ve lost each of their five away games in the league this season, conceding at least twice in every match. Norwich have a smattering of Premier League quality in their squad, and these two could be heading in opposite directions by the time the season ends next May.
Newcastle v Brentford
Newcastle have a slightly tougher assignment at home to mid-table Brentford, but are still worthy of support at -182 with William Hill.
The Magpies also have 7 wins from 11 league games, but are a point behind the Canaries by virtue of losing one more than their promotion rivals. They still only trail leaders Huddersfield by one point though, and with the Terriers playing on Sunday, both Newcastle and Norwich have the chance to jump above them in the table.
It’s five wins from seven at home in League and Cup for Rafa Benitez, with the two slip ups coming against Huddersfield and Wolves. More impressive is the run of nine victories in the last 11 games home and away, and it’s those kind of winning runs that earn teams promotion from this league.
Brentford sit in 7th place in the table, and they’re having a decent season so far. Five wins and three draws from 11 games have given them 18 points, and they’re just two points away from a place in the play off positions. It’s the away form that has let them down a little bit though, and there are few tougher places to go than Newcastle. The Bees have played six road matches in league and cup this season, losing four, drawing one, and claiming just the one victory at Brighton.
Nottingham Forest v Birmingham
12 of Forest’s 14 games so far this season in league and cup have featured three or more goals, and it’s a trend worth following with the Midlands club. Despite being one of the division’s top scoring teams, their porous defence has let them down, and a return of just 12 points leaves them in 18th place, a mere four points above the drop zone.
Birmingham have been rather less prolific in the goals department, but the Blues will fancy their chances of winning here and are expected to attack the game. They currently occupy 6th position in the table, and a promotion challenge is not at all out of the question. Just nine goals conceded in 11 games shows their defensive qualities, but Forest have found the net in 11 of their 14 matches, and in every home game this season expect the 4-0 drubbing by Arsenal in the EFL Cup.
Norwich to beat Rotherham
Saturday 15th October, 15:00 GMT
Newcastle to beat Brentford
Saturday 15th October, 15:00 GMT
Nottingham Forest v Birmingham – Over 2.5 Goals
Friday 14th October, 19:45 GMT