There’s no rest for the wicked in the Championship and with a full midweek betting programme to get stuck into, Cardiff City, Leeds United and Blackburn Rovers should be backed to beat Watford, Charlton Athletic and Sheffield Wednesday respectively.
These selections represent my ‘Home Heroes’ debut for England’s second tier as usual tipster Lee Calver failed a late fitness test with a fractured ego after his winning run came to an end at the weekend, as he feared it would.
However, there are plenty of reasons to suggest that our latest top trio should all get the job done and deliver a treble at odds just shy of 5/1, or winnings of £119.05 for anyone successfully backing them with their free £20 bet after registering with bwin.
Cardiff to beat Watford @ 13/20
Cardiff were certainly brought down to earth with a bump at the weekend as they were beaten 3-1 by Nottingham Forest at the City Ground, which allowed Leicester City to replace them at the top of the table.
But back on home soil, the Bluebirds should have enough class to get past Watford. Malky Mackay’s men have a flawless record at the Cardiff City Stadium this season, winning all five league games to date, scoring 11 goals and conceding just three in the process.
The defeat by Forest was their third of the campaign but their immediate response to the previous two losses – beating promotion rivals Wolves and Blackpool 3-1 and 3-0 respectively, both at home – suggests the Hornets could feel a backlash this evening.
Gianfranco Zola’s men are pretty unpredictable at the best of times and in fairness, they have won their last two games on the road against Huddersfield and Charlton.
However, only Millwall have shipped more away goals than Watford’s total of 12 and considering they have been beaten on three of their last four visits to Cardiff, the hosts have to be the preference here.
Leeds to beat Charlton @ 17/20
Leeds, or more specifically their fans, have been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons after last Friday’s stormy 1-1 draw with Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday.
The fan who invaded the pitch and assaulted Owls keeper Chris Kirkland after the Whites’ equaliser at Hillsborough has been identified and jailed, but some critics have suggested that a four-month term does not send out a strong enough message.
Nevertheless, a more positive story is provided by Leeds’ fortunes on the pitch so far this term as promotion specialist Neil Warnock attempts to haul the famous old club back into the Premier League for the first time since 2004.
United are sat handily in ninth place, just four points behind the leaders, and will fancy their chances of winning their third straight home match in the league when struggling Charlton visit Elland Road.
Admittedly, the Addicks have generally been better on the road so far this term, picking up seven of their 12 points away from the Valley, including wins at Blackpool and Ipswich in their last two.
However, I have watched the Londoners several times already this season and they look painfully short of firepower and quality in wide areas, so I simply cannot see them turning over Leeds.
Charlton were abject in a home defeat by Barnsley on Saturday and my source inside their dressing room – who will remain nameless – revealed that boss Chris Powell was furious with his players and vowed to make a raft of changes for the trip to Elland Road.
That would be an uncharacteristic move by the former England left-back, who generally likes to keep a consistent line-up whenever possible.
It arguably smacks of desperation and certainly underlines the magnitude of the task facing the Addicks this evening against a settled and fired-up Leeds outfit who should be backed to grab all three points.
Blackburn to beat Sheff Wed @ 19/20
I have to be honest here and say that even if Cardiff and Leeds do the business on Tuesday night, the nerves will still be jangling 24 hours later when Blackburn (hopefully) bid to complete our treble with victory over Sheffield Wednesday.
Events at Ewood Park since the arrival of controversial owners Venky’s have baffled this writer to such an extent that it is hard to know where to start.
Why was Steve Kean kept in the job for so long when his presence was creating a poisonous atmosphere around the club? Were there no alarm bells ringing at the turn of the year when his team had been producing cast-iron relegation form in the 12 months since his appointment in December 2010?
If the owners wanted to stick with Kean, why did they fail to back him in the January transfer window in a bid to stave off the drop and then give him a whopping £8 million to sign Jordan Rhodes from Huddersfield after the event?
We will probably never know the answers to these questions but with Kean finally departing last month, Rovers appear to be no closer to replacing him, having seen approaches for former players Tim Sherwood and Billy McKinlay rebuffed.
However, for all their troubles, Blackburn should be able to get a home win over the Owls, who currently sit in the relegation zone and have the worst away record of any team in the Championship.
Dave Jones’ men are the only side in the division who are yet to pick up a victory on the road – drawing twice and losing the other three – and I can’t see their eight-match winless streak ending at Ewood Park.
Rovers were unfortunate not to win at Derby on Saturday, being denied by a late Theo Robinson equaliser. And considering they have already beaten Wednesday on home soil this season – a 3-1 Carling Cup triumph in August – they are worth backing to repeat the trick here.