New Year’s resolutions? Give me a break. Broken mine already. Right, time to take back control of your own goals for this year – and, granted – it may not have initially revolved around Derby County and Swansea City, but look, they’re two fine cities in their own right.
It’s the first non-bank holiday of the new year, and that calls for some normality and some consistency. I feel it’s a good idea to try and make winning a few quid on a day of sport a habit, don’t you?
Let me guide you through these tantalising Championship fixtures so we can get you a nice return on your forced festive investment. After all, how many times do you get to watch football on a Thursday that doesn’t involve Manchester United somewhere in the middle of greater Siberia playing Mason Greenwood up top by himself? The Christmas tree coming down can wait until next week.
Derby v Barnsley – 7.45pm
Phillip Cocu’s job would have been taken from him if Derby hadn’t beaten Charlton last week. Of that, I have absolutely no doubt. The primary reason for that is because their squad really isn’t that bad – and the excuses rolling for them aren’t fully valid.
Yes, they lack a goalscorer, and that point was only further emphasised by the fact that a young Irish midfielder in Jason Knight (we’re winning the next World Cup, have absolutely no doubt about it – once the FAI still exist, that is) was needed to bag not one, but both goals for them to overcome Charlton. In saying that, they have a little old fella by the name of Wayne Rooney possibly making his debut – I’ve heard he can bang one in if he gets a chance. ‘A good eye for goal’, my source told me.
And more positives for Derby; Krystian Bielik is suspended, which is a blessing in disguise, given the amount of times he’s been at fault for goals this season. Home advantage is a huge thing – the first home crowd of the year is always big enough, and Barnsley are perennial losers, whom each of us know will fall away around this time of year.
Selection: Derby County to Win (13/10)
Swansea v Charlton – 7.45pm
Ah, Swansea. One of this year’s biggest disappointments, it will still fail to sit right with me that they’re not competing with Leeds and West Brom, but for some reason, things just haven’t clicked for them. Well, a home game against Charlton should normally hold no fear for them, except for the fact that Swansea are conceding a goal a game at home, and barely scraping that total themselves.
An attitude change will be required in 2020 if they’re to sneak into the playoffs they probably didn’t envisage themselves needing to contest at the beginning of the campaign – and less time in midfield keeping possession should result in more exciting football for the home support.
However, that defensive resolve doesn’t show any signs of improving – and it’s far easier to change your approach with the ball mid-season than it is to do so without it. There’ll be goals in this and I fancy Swansea to get the points.
Selection: Swansea City to Win and Both Teams to Score (2/1)
The Double pays 6/1:
Derby County to beat Barnsley @ 13/10
Swansea City to Win and Both Teams to Score @ 2/1