Aston Villa 2.00 v Brentford 4.00; The Draw 3.70
I wouldn't normally dismiss Brentford so quickly, but the fact is they've endured a very poor start to the season and towards the end of the transfer window they lost three first team players without replacing them.

The big name departure of course is Jota, who was sold to Birmingham for £6m, and like a few others I believe that could be one of the best transfers the St Andrew's outfit will conduct for a long time. The 26-year-old attacking midfielder has everything, including an end product, and his goals will be sorely missed at Brentford.

Dean Smith's squad now looks rather threadbare, and having started the season by picking up just two points from a possible 15 you have to fear for them. It's early days of course, but one of the hardest runs in football to break is a winless one, and having to do it at Villa Park looks quite a task.

Villa haven't started the season in great fashion either, and while I maintain my stance that there's no way they should have been pre-season title favourites it's hard to deny that there's a lot of quality in Steve Bruce's squad.

Robert Snodgrass is the latest edition to the ranks, and once Villa have a clean bill of health they can field a very strong starting XI - including John Terry of course - that won't concede many goals and one that should easily challenge for a top six finish.

Despite their lowly position in the table Bruce's men have actually started the season extremely well at Villa Park, drawing 1-1 with Hull before putting four past Norwich. They then thrashed League One title favourites Wigan in the EFL Cup, and now at home to a Brentford side that is yet to keep a clean sheet in four away games I make Villa banker material to take all three points on Saturday afternoon.

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Back Aston Villa to Win @ 2.00 (best bet)

Bolton 4.00 v Middlesbrough 2.08; The Draw 3.50
Middlesbrough were absolutely dreadful at home to Preston a fortnight ago, so on first glance, taking odds of just 2.08 about them winning away to Bolton seems very short. It seems even shorter when you consider that Boro haven't won on the road, in any competition, for over 12 months now.

Of course, most of those away games were in the Premier League so there are mitigating circumstances, and the last time the Teessiders were in the Championship they had an extremely good away record - a 2-1 victory at Bolton being their last second-tier away win ironically.

And there has been plenty of encouragement in Middlesbrough's two away games this term to suggest that they'll be a force on their travels again in the coming months. Garry Monk's men lost to Wolves on the opening day of the season thanks only to a dreadful individual error, and away to Nottingham Forest in their last away game it still remains a mystery as to how they failed to collect all three points, never mind lose the game.

After a sketchy first half hour Monk's men were excellent thereafter on that day, creating a plethora of golden chances, of which former Forest striker Britt Assombalonga was guilty of missing many. But if Boro produce anything close to that performance at the Macron Stadium - and I always feel that their attacking style of play is better suited to away games even if they do look a more defensively solid outfit on home soil - then they should take all three points.

Phil Parkinson's men are already in the relegation zone - rock bottom in fact - after failing to win any of their opening five league games, and just before the international break they were thrashed 4-0 by Hull so confidence could be a little low amongst the Trotters.

Bolton will undoubtedly raise their game for the visit of one of the early season title favourites however, but if they go on the front foot too often I fear that they might get picked off a few times at least if Monk's men can find their scoring boots - which seems just a matter of time.

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Back Middlesbrough to Win @ 2.08

Norwich 1.89 v Birmingham 4.40; The Draw 3.90
Backing Birmingham to win away from home - and generally opposing them at St Andrew's - has been a very good strategy for this column in recent years, so at the prices for this match I simply have to repeat the trick again.

Neither club has started the season well it has to be said - both have four points from a possible 15 - but Norwich have been conceding goals at an alarming rate and that's certainly not a good habit to have at any level of football.

Daniel Farke's men have conceded 12 league goals already this term including being thrashed by newly-promoted Millwall 4-0 immediately before the international break, while at Carrow Road they've won one and lost one, the defeat being a 1-3 reversal to Sunderland with Farke criticising his team's defending - as he did after the Millwall nightmare - quite strongly that day.

Norwich also conceded four at Villa, and two at home to League Two outfit Swindon Town in the cup, so Harry Redknapp will be confident about his side getting on the scoresheet a few times.

Although on the same amount of points as Saturday's opponents, Redknapp's men have been a lot tighter defensively, conceding half the amount of goals as Norwich so far. The worry is that Birmingham haven't exactly had the hardest start to the season, facing the likes of Burton, Bolton, and Bristol City so a return of just four points is disappointing.

But I'm willing to overlook that given Redknapp's recent transfer business.

He's tightened up defensively by bringing in Harlee Dean and Maxime Colin, while the capture of attacking midfielder Jota is a real coup - I expect him to be one of the Championship's best players this term. Consider also the loan signings of Carl Jenkinson from Arsenal, Liam Walsh from Everton, and Jeremie Boga from Chelsea and Redknapp has a very decent squad to work with this season.

It's early days to expect them all to play, and gel, so soon of course, but if just a few of them can hit the ground running then against a leaky Norwich side Redknapp's men look worth chancing on Saturday afternoon a juicy odds.

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Back Birmingham to Win @ 4.40

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