The Championship, eh? I don’t know about you, but I’ve been finding the division something of a punter’s graveyard this season, far too unpredictable to make any sense of.
Just to prove a point, last weekend bottom beat top as Doncaster, El-Hadji Diouf and all, beat Southampton and Burnley, who were abjectly looking over their shoulders just three games ago, won at Upton Park against West Ham to move into the top half following three victories on the bounce.
With results like that you wonder why you bother (yes, West Ham dropped me in for my Banker Treble last weekend) but one match that could buck that erratic trend takes place this weekend at the Riverside, where Middlesbrough entertain Brighton and Hove Albion.
Just three points separate fourth-placed Boro and Brighton in seventh position and I’m going to bank on there being little between the teams come 5pm on Saturday as well.
Boro are 83/100 with bwin to claim a home win, with the draw priced at 23/10 and Brighton a 33/10 shot to claim all three points.
Tony Mowbray’s side have won just three of their ten home league games so I won’t be touching that price with your money.
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And while Brighton have been decent enough on the road (their 4-2-4 record is the eighth best in the division), a tally of only eight goals away from the Amex means you can’t back them with total confidence, especially when you see Boro have conceded only nine goals at the Riverside, a record bettered by only five teams.
You can see where this is going – a lack of goals is the most sensible play.
Looking at the total goals per match league table, both Middlesbrough and Brighton are in the bottom three, averaging just 2.05 and 2.2 goals in their matches respectively.
A massive 70% of Boro’s fixtures have seen less than 2.5 goals, with 60% the figure for the Seagulls.
Yet that figure rises to 70% when you look at Brighton’s away record, and when you see only three teams average less goals at home than Boro, you can see why under 2.5 goals is priced at 13/20.
Everything points to a low-scoring affair and the 39/20 for under 1.5 goals is must-bet material. And if the match turns out to be a goalfest, we’ll just go back to bemoaning the random nature of the Championship, shall we?
That is giving nothing away, but the 39/20 that there are under 1.5 goals on Saturday is a golden bet. That has been the case in three of Boro’s home games, while a fairly remarkable six of Brighton’s away matches have featured less than 1.5 goals.
That trend also goes back to last season’s League One title-winning campaign, where Gus Poyet’s men were involved in ten away games that featured fewer than two goals.
Brighton have scored just three goals in their last six away games and Boro have netted just six times in their past six matches on Teesside.
Everything points to a low-scoring affair and the 39/20 for under 1.5 goals is must-bet material. I wouldn’t put anyone off a small play on a 0-0 draw – these teams are evenly matched, after all – which is 25/4. A scoreless first half is 33/20, which is again worth consideration.
And if the match turns out to be a goalfest, we’ll just go back to bemoaning the random nature of the Championship, shall we?
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