Burton v Birmingham
Friday 18th August, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports

Pointless start for Burton

Relegation favourites Burton have made a pointless start to their 2017/18 Championship campaign following losses against pre-season favourites Middlesbrough (0-2), recently-relegated Hull (1-4) and early pace-setters Cardiff (0-1).

But it's well worth noting that the Brewers have played about 24% of their league minutes with 10 men following red cards to Jackson Irvine and Hope Akpan in the former two fixtures. Irvine is back from a ban on Friday night while the Brewers are appealing against Akpan's sending off on Tuesday evening.

Nigel Clough said he was "delighted" with his side's efforts against Boro in midweek considering the lengthily list of absentees. Albion stretched the Teessiders early in both halves with Matt Palmer particularly impressing.

However, the raw data points to another deserved defeat for Burton; the hosts have now been out-shot 12-59, lost the on-target count 2-23 and 0.7-6.9 when viewing expected goals data across their league games whilst Ben TurnerStephen WarnockLiam Boyce and John Mousinho will all be missing once more.

Birmingham yet to impress

Birmingham have made an unconvincing start to the season under Harry Redknapp's watch. The Blues have been second-best in all three outings despite collecting four points via Bolton (0-0), Bristol City (2-1) and Ipswich (0-1).

Injuries have certainly played a part with Michael Morrison and Cheikh Ndoye the latest to be added to the list. With Ryan Shotton heavily linked with a move to Middlesbrough, City's options at the back are limited and thwarting Redknapp's desire to move to a system with three defenders.

Goals have also been in short supply. Jacques Maghoma provided a match-winning moment against Bristol City last weekend but Birmingham were timid in attack during their midweek draw where new signing Isaac Vassell made his debut from the bench.

The Blues first three fixtures have seen the visitors out-shot 40-49 but winning the on-target counts 11-7. However, they do trail 3.2-4.9 when viewing xG data.

Asian Handicap value

Last season Burton collected 60% of their points tally at the Pirelli Stadium but following their alarming start, the Brewers have been chalked up as 3.05 outsiders here. Taking Albion's W9-D4-L11 results as hosts in the Championship, the implied odds for a home success should be closer to 2.67.

Visitors Birmingham 2.64 have claimed only five (21%) triumphs on their travelssince the start of last season (W5-D9-L10) but considering the guests only suffered three defeats in 11 trips to fellow bottom-half clubs, I'm happy to steer clear of the Match Odds market.

Instead, head to the Asian Handicap market. Keeping Burton onside with a +0/0.5 start 1.78, we'll make money should the hosts avoid defeat. It's a selection that would have returned profit in 32/48 (67%) of home and away matches featuring these two over the past 12 months.

Goals in short supply

Considering this will be Burton and Birmingham's third fixture in a week and with both clubs missing key personnel across the park, I'm in no hurry to support a goal-heavy game at the Pirelli.

Collectively, the pair have notched just three league goals in four-and-a-half hours of action this term while last season their home/away league games featured just an average of 2.41 goals per-game with 29/48 (60%) rewarding Under 2.5 Goalsbackers.

So it's understandable to see Under 2.5 Goals trading at just 1.60.

Recommended Bets

Back Burton +0/0.5 Asian Handicap 1.78

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