Saturday Championship Tips: Plenty of goals expected at the John Smith's Stadium
Brentford have been in free-scoring form in recent weeks and Jack Critchley believes that the Bees could take advantage of Huddersfield's defensive uncertainty on Saturday afternoon...
Terriers and Bees to provide plenty of entertainment
Huddersfield 5.20 v Brentford 1.81; The Draw 3.65
There has been a real swagger about Brentford's play over the last couple of weeks and the West London side look the most likely candidates to break into the automatic promotion positions this season. They will be hoping to bridge the six point gap which separates them from the top two and will be feeling extremely confident of picking up three points in West Yorkshire this weekend.
Said Benrahma has been one of the club's key players this season and he's been singing the praises of coach Thomas Frank this week. He explained to reporters that there is a real unity within the squad and that the Danish tactician's communication with his players has significantly increased their confidence.
Despite their lofty position, Brentford's away form has occasionally been their Achille's heel this season and they've managed just four clean sheets on the road so far. They swept aside Bristol City on New Year's Day, although they were given a helping hand by Ashley Williams, who received his marching orders in the first half. The Bees also stuck three past Wigan, QPR, Swansea and Barnsley, although they do have the tendency to throw in the occasional underwhelming performance on their travels. If they fail to secure promotion to the Premier League this season, they are likely to ruefully reflect on 1-0 defeats to Charlton, Millwall, Blackburn and Nottingham Forest earlier in the campaign.
Each of those sides spent a large portion of the match on the back-foot and Huddersfield are also likely to be under the cosh for large swathes of this game. Unlike many of Brentford's conquerers, the Terriers' defence is far from secure and if they concede an early goal, it could be a long afternoon for the hosts. Only Birmingham and Luton have conceded more goals than Huddersfield across the last four games and they've managed just a single clean sheet since their unexpected 1-0 victory at Griffin Park back in November.
There have been 19 goals in Huddersfield's last six matches at this stadium and Danny Cowley's side have only failed to score twice at home since mid-September. With five goals in their last three games, the hosts will surely offer a threat of their own and the addition of Emile Smith Rowe from Arsenal should give them a little more cutting edge going forward.
They've also added Richard Stearman to their ranks and if selected, he'll be tasked with marshalling the in-form Ollie Watkins on Saturday afternoon. The striker has 18 for the campaign whilst his sidekick Bryan Mbeumo has also chipped in with 11. The deadly duo are likely to test the Huddersfield back-line throughout the 90 minutes.
Although they managed to keep Frank's men off the score-sheet earlier in the season, it's hard to imagine them repeating the trick here. Cowley's man have conceded nine times in their last four matches and they could find it tricky to keep the division's third highest scorers at arms length. The 2017 play-off winners are also capable of collapsing with Stoke and Bristol City both knocking five past them in recent weeks.
Brentford could easily fill their boots this weekend although the home side are also perfectly capable to finding the net themselves. Over 2.5 Goals is a rather generous 2.06 on the Exchange and is worth backing in this contest.
New look Swans should have too much for Wigan
Swansea 1.98 v Wigan 4.30; The Draw 3.45
Swansea have been able to significantly bolster their squad during the January transfer window with the Welsh side making a number of eye-catching additions so far. Striker Rhian Brewster, on loan from Liverpool, made his debut for the club last weekend against Cardiff and the 19-year old will be keen to get off the mark in this contest. They've also sealed a deal for the impressive Conor Gallagher, who spent the first half of the campaign at the Valley, and the midfielder is likely to add some much-needed dynamism to the side. Marc Guehi has also arrived from Chelsea with Steve Cooper making full use of his connections to help secure some of the Premier League's finest young talent.
Despite their patchy form, the former Premier League outfit still sit on the fringes of the play-offs and they'll be keen to return to the top six this weekend. They've lost just one of their last seven Championship games and arrive off the back of three consecutive clean sheets. They were marginally the better side against rivals Cardiff last weekend and would have been disappointed to have left with just a point.
Earlier in the season, the Swans were struggling to pick up points at the Liberty Stadium, however they're now unbeaten in their last four and have conceded just five times in their last seven home matches. They have been much improved in recent weeks and the fact that they've managed to bulk out their paper-thin squad is another step in the right direction.
Wigan were unable to build upon their 3-2 victory at St.Andrews last weekend as they slipped up against Bristol City at the DW. The Latics remain rooted in the relegation zone and desperately need to start picking up points on a more consistent basis. They've picked up a solitary success on their travels this season and have failed to score in two of their last three away matches. They took full advantage of Pep Clotet's men's struggles on their own patch a fortnight ago although they could this assignment significantly tougher.
Last season, they surprisingly picked up a point at this ground, however Swansea appear to be far more streetwise this time around. The hosts have the tendency to frustrate at times and are occasionally wasteful in front of goal, but the added competition for places should help them become more efficient in the final third. Only four teams have had more shots than the Welshmen this season and they should be able to get the better of a side who have drawn three blanks in their last five outings. The hosts are 1.98 on the Exchange and should be backed to make it back-to-back home wins.
A lively affair at Ashton Gate
Bristol City 2.32 v Barnsley 3.30; The Draw 3.55
Bristol City were dumped out of the FA Cup by Shrewsbury in midweek and Lee Johnson will be desperately hoping that his side can bounce back on Saturday afternoon. The Robins have struggled at home this season and the upwardly mobile Tykes are likely to cause them a few problems.
Famara Diedhiou was back on the score-sheet last weekend and despite calls for the club in invest in a striker this month, they are still largely reliant on the Senegalese hitman and the energetic Andreas Weimann. Their games have certainly been entertaining in recent weeks with their last eight matches containing 14 goals. They've managed to score at least two goals in three of their last four Championship outings and should be able to create plenty of chances against a leaky Barnsley defence.
The South Yorkshire side remain in the relegation zone despite their fantastic form and Gerhard Struber will be urging his team to ensure that they don't lose any of their recent momentum. They've suffered just a single defeat in their last seven matches and there have also been 21 goals during that run of fixtures.
Both Cauley Woodrow and Connor Chaplin are now closing in on double figures while midfielder Alex Mowatt has been in scintillating form since the Austrian coach arrived at the club. With Jacob Brown having registered eight assists so far this season, they are likely to carve out plenty of opportunities and will fancy their chances of exposing a defence that has conceded 10 times in the last five home games.
There always seems to be loads of drama whenever these two sides meet and the pair were involved in a hugely entertaining 2-2 draw earlier in the campaign. There have been 21 goals in the last five fixtures between this duo and this contest could easily follow suit.
The visitors have kept just a single clean sheet since the end of August and although the new coaching staff have vastly improved their output in the final third, they've been unable to plug the leaks at the other end of the field. Using the Sportsbook's Same Game Multi, we can get 1.87 for Over 2.5 Goals and BTTS which looks extremely tempting..