Saturday Championship Tips: Leaky Luton to struggle at Deepdale
Preston have been formidable at home this season and Jack Critchley is expecting the Lancashire outfit to continue their free-scoring form against Luton this weekend...
Alex Neil's men to continue their scoring spree in Lancashire
Preston 1.75 v Luton 4.90; The Draw 4.00
Preston fans were able to breathe a sigh of relief on Tuesday night as they watched their side snap out of a four match losing streak. The Lilywhites have endured a difficult run of fixtures which included games against the leaders West Brom and a tricky away trip to Pride Park and some supporters were understandably becoming a little concerned about their sides recent form. However, Alex Neil's men took advantage of home comforts once again to secure their eighth win of the campaign at Deepdale as they snuck past Fulham in midweek. It was a fairly scrappy and tempestuous encounter which PNE just about shaded, outshooting their opponents 19-15 and registering a marginally higher XG.
The Lancashire side face Luton on Saturday afternoon and will sense an opportunity to make it back-to-back home successes. Preston have a perfect record at this ground against sides below them in the table and have scored three or more goals in each of their five matches against bottom half opposition. West Brom and Leeds are the only two sides to have prevented them from finding the net at least twice on their own patch so far and this weekend's visitors are unlikely to put up much resistance.
Graeme Jones was delighted with his side's response to their drubbing at Griffin Park, although that joy was fairly shortlived as his side slipped into bad habits once again on Tuesday night. The Hatters were exposed on a number of occasions by fellow strugglers Stoke, who enjoyed plenty of joy down the left flank and managed to notch three goals within the first 50 minutes of the contest.
Luton have conceded the highest number of away goals in the division, and although Brentford's seven goal haul ever-so-slightly skews those numbers, they have still conceded far too many cheap goals this campaign and are yet to find any defensive solutions. Even if you take the Bees game out of the equation, they'd have still have been breached on 21 occasions, which is seven more than today's opponents.
The Bedfordshire side have capitulated on a regular basis this season and it wouldn't be a surprise to see them concede another three goals in this contest. Preston are 1.75 on the Exchange to collect three points in this one and that looks a solid bet. However, we can increase our returns by backing Preston to Win and Over 1.5 Goals at Evens on the Sportsbook. This would have landed in eight of their 11 home matches so far this season.
Plenty of goals at Pride Park
Derby 2.48 v Millwall 3.15; The Draw 3.20
Millwall pulled off a midweek upset as they beat Bristol City at Ashton Gate on Tuesday night. The Lions set up to frustrate the Robins and their tactics worked extremely effectively throughout the 90 minutes. Lee Johnson's side had plenty of the ball, commanding over 60% possession, yet they weren't able to carve out any meaningful chances until the second half.
Gary Rowett has to take credit for another terrific performance and his side are now unbeaten in six Championship outings. The Bermondsey side have become incredibly tough to beat, and in Jed Wallace, they have a man who is capable of producing moments of magic on a weekly basis. The 25-year old was instrumental in midweek and has eight goals and five assists for the season. His side have become a real threat from both set-pieces and open play and will surely test Derby's defence on Saturday afternoon.
The visitors have scored in each of their last 10 matches, although they've kept just a single clean sheet in seven. Only Swansea have failed to find a way through when hosting Millwall this season and the travelling fans should be royally entertained once again at Pride Park.
Despite sitting comfortably clear of the relegation zone, only Middlesbrough and Wigan have scored fewer goals than Derby this season. Phillip Cocu's side have struggled on the road, yet they have generally been much stronger in front of their own fans. They've found the net in 91% of their home matches so far although they've only scored two or more goals on three occasions. The Dutchman appears to have enough firepower in his squad, yet doesn't appear able to find the right balance in the final third.
The Rams picked up their fifth 1-1 draw of the campaign on Wednesday night, striking late to secure a point against Sheffield Wednesday and there is every chance that their winless run will continue this weekend. However, they should find the back of the net once again and with both teams to score available at 1.93 on the Exchange, it is undoubtedly worth backing. It has landed in over 70% of Millwall's away games this campaign and both teams will be desperate to collect maximum points here.
Potential slow-burner at Elland Road
Leeds 1.38 v Cardiff 10.50; The Draw 5.20
Marcelo Bielsa continues to work wonders in West Yorkshire. The Argentine boss has now won as many games as the three previous incumbents of the hotseat combined at Elland Road, and his side are seemingly going from strength-to-strength.
Another routine victory on Tuesday night saw them ease past Hull with a couple of second half goals ensuring that the Tigers made the short journey home with nothing to show for their efforts. Leeds haven't panicked this season, and their patient approach is paying off. They've netted 22 of their 32 goals after the break and generally do their best work following the half-time teamtalk.
Despite their lofty position, they are only the fifth highest scorers in the division and six of their 14 victories have come by a single goal margin. Bielsa's side dominate possession and they do create chances, but it's often takes them time to break down stubborn opposition. There have been just two first half goals in their last five Championship matches, both of which came against Middlesbrough.
Cardiff are unlikely to park the bus on Saturday afternoon, however Neil Harris is pretty adept at making his sides tough to beat, and they will do their best to frustrate their high-flying hosts. The Bluebirds suffered their first defeat under the former Millwall boss in midweek and he will keen for his side to respond positively.
30 of Cardiff's 57 goals have come after the break and they've conceded just 14 times in the first half of games this season. Leeds are likely to have to work hard for their three points and therefore, backing the second half to contain the highest amount of goals at Evens on the Sportsbook could be a profitable angle. It has landed in four of Leeds' last five matches and would also have paid out in two of Cardiff's last three visits to this ground.
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