Aston Villa v West Brom
The first of our Feb 16 Championship Betting tips is for Aston Villa v West Brom. Aston Villa enter the weekend with time running out on a top-six finish needed to secure an extended season and promotion play-off place. The home board set targets of pushing for a place back in the Premier League when looking forward to this campaign, but things haven’t gone exactly to plan so far. They ended last week with a record reading 10-14-7 and it’s plain to see draws continue to hamper their progress. They drew back-to-back when ending level with Reading and Sheff Utd in their first two starts of the month, but those points did stretch their unbeaten run to four games, keeping them in the mix.
That draw vs The Blades was a dramatic one, to say the least. Sharp scored a stunning hat-trick with goals on 11, 53 and 62 minutes to put his employers in a commanding position. They lead 3-0 going in to the final 10 minutes, but the game ended in a six-goal draw with Villa staging a late smash and grab. Mings started the fightback with a goal on 82; Abraham made things interesting when getting another on 86 and there was to be one final twist in the tale as Green smashed home as stoppage-time equaliser. Dean Smith felt for Chris Wilder but thought the comeback was a result of the hard work and character shown by his troops. Another draw is 12/5 at 888sport, the home win 7/5 jolly when punting at Bet365.
Baggies Target Top-Two
West Brom went into the week in fourth, with 15 wins and eight draws against seven defeats. That left them with 53 points on the board, five behind Leeds United in second and a spot in the automatic promotion places. At this stage of the season everyone connected to the Hawthorns will believe they have a decent chance of being involved in the top-tier fixture list next season. There’s still plenty of football to be played; however, it’s there to be won and they are in a decent position to force the issue down the home straight.
The Baggies’ form has been patchy of late with their last five showing lose-draw-win-lose-win. They beat Stoke City 1-0 last weekend with striker Dwight Gayle scoring the only goal of the game on 25 minutes to down a determined Potters. Head coach Darren Moore was delighted with the goal and the way his boys handled themselves off the ball to defend their lead. They must take their chances again here if they are to continue that progress, but traders have the away day written off. Backers will get 9/5 – top price at Bet365 – on an away win and, in a 50/50 match, that’s good enough to get our vote. Best used as a super single.
Preston v Nottingham Forest
Preston can be found in the bottom-half of the table; however, they are a side moving in the right direction and if they are able to maintain their recent form it shouldn’t be too long before we see them hold their own in the best eight to 10. Have they left it too late to be considered challengers for the play-offs? Following last week’s win, they were 10 points off Bristol City in sixth, meaning it’s not impossible. However, it is highly unlikely they’ll feature.
Preston did bank another three points last Saturday, taking their form to three wins and a couple of draws from five. They went to the Macron with a job to do but came away with a maximum pay-out thanks to a 2-1 result. Browne had them ahead just before half-time, with Barkhuizen doubling that advantage on 82. The game was over as a contest by the time Donaldson hit back for The Trotters on 90 minutes, but it did make the final exchanges more nervy than Alex Neil would’ve hoped. The Scotsman thought his team should’ve scored at least another two goals. Preston are 21/20 favourites at Coral, most of the competition giving even money on the same result. A draw won’t go unnoticed at Unibet’s 12/5.
Forest Struggling for Form
Nottingham Forest are another side with a chance at pushing for promotion, but they are struggling for form at the minute and lost three of their last five going into the week. They did win the other two, including victory vs Brentford last Saturday. Grabban scored his first goal since the opening day of the year when knocking his side ahead on 16 minutes. The floodgates were then expected to swing open; however, it took until the 79th minute before Wague hit the net to double that tally. The beaten side responded quickly, Canos scoring, but it was little more than a consolation goal. Too little, too late for Brentford who weren’t expected to win and didn’t disappoint.
Martin O’Neill seemed delighted with his team’s display when speaking to the press at full-time, but he did reserve special praise for Grabban who made an overdue return to scoring ways. O’Neill told fans the scorer of the opener had been working hard and did excellently well to take the chance when it finally fell his way. Forest are as big as 14/5 in the betting ring but we’re going to avoid calling the winner and, instead, take a punt on both teams to score. Punters who follow our thinking will get 3/4 at Ladbrokes and that will fill a hole in your weekend accas.
Rotherham v Sheff Weds
Rotherham are stuck in a relegation fight and after 31 games they had won only five, with a dozen draws and 14 defeats. Three losses on the bounce followed by back-to-back draws meant they were just a point better than Reading at the bottom-three and it would come as no surprise to see them lose their position in the second-tier come spring. Bookies set-up in opposition and there’s 9/5 available at Bet365 on the home win, 12/5 the draw.
A Capable Opposition
Sheffield Wednesday fans have had much more to shout about over the course of this season to date; however, they have little, if indeed any, chance of pushing for promotion. A let down when compared to the heroics of last season, but they are a capable side and drew last week to go three games unbeaten. The away win makes perfect sense, when judging this one on the form, and we have The Owls backed at Coral’s 31/20, better than most of the competition.
Our Tip: Sheffield Wednesday to win – 31/20 at Coral
Blackburn v Middlesbrough
The last of our Feb 16 Championship betting tips is for Blackburn v Middlesborough. This match will be shown live on Sky Sports from 1.00pm on Sunday afternoon from Ewood Park. Rovers are destined for a midtable finish after their decent form in January was undone by back-to-back defeats. They went down to Brentford on the road when hammered 5-2 on 2 February and followed that with a spirit-crushing 1-0 at home to promotion chasing Bristol City. Pisano scored the decider on 80 minutes to break home hearts but that didn’t seem to surprise Tony Mowbray who expected a tough test.
Chance of Promotion
Boro can be found mixing it at the opposite end of the charts and went into the week with a strong unbeaten run behind them, their last five showing two wins and three draws. A failure to kill teams off is threatening their progress but they remain in with a chance at promotion, either through the play-offs or a top-two finish. The Smoggies started February with a 3-2 win away to West Brom but were held to a 1-1 at home to a Leeds side low on confidence. Both teams to score in a Boro win is the call at 9/2 – top price at Ladbrokes.