The time has come for some New Year’s resolutions, folks.
No more backing odds-on home sides who are changing their first XI around. No more taking wild punts on away team while they’re down to ten men and losing 2-0. No more backing five draws in an acca in the dire hope of buying those new shoes you’ve been chasing.
No, no. Put your faith in me, folks. Like the partner you’ve somehow ended up despite always being in love with their more attractive cousin, I might annoy you at times, but when you look back over our time together on December 31st, you probably won’t hate me as much as your gut tells you to.
Let’s ring in a new decade in the best way possible – a nice-priced winner.
Birmingham v Wigan: Birmingham to Win – 10/11
As much as I like to think Leeds United are an anomaly in the footballing world and any result involving them is margined for special analysis, you have to wonder – just what are Birmingham City playing at to score four times and still not get a point from a home game?
But there are so many options for this Brummie team off the bench that you’d expect them to have fresh reserves at this time of year, while someone with a much smaller budget in Wigan, should fall apart at the seams.
Pep Clotet will undoubtedly focus on defensive structure here, which means Birmingham get to play on the break a bit more – the blueprint crafted by both Gary Rowett and Gary Monk – which actually suits this set of players.
The Blues board might have grander ideas, but this return to basics will be enough to snag a win for the hosts.
Preston v Middlesbrough: Preston to Win – 4/5
Derby and, ironically, Preston, are the only teams not in the bottom three who have scored fewer away goals than Middlesbrough this season (12).
As a contrast, Preston North End’s season can be split into two very definitive stories: their home form and their travels.
At home, no side in the division are better, with the Lancashire club picking up 29 points from a possible 39 – and notching 29 times in doing so.
As odds-on prices go, this one seems a winner.
Fulham v Reading: Fulham to Win – 8/13
Fulham hit a slight bump in the road, but they’re easily the third-best team in the Championship, and have now won two of their last three, scoring 29 times – a number only bettered by the sides who occupy the top two spots.
They’re clicking into gear at the right moment, while injuries are crippling Reading – once again, Mark Bowen will have to make changes and probably field a side who have yet to play together this season.
These two ingredients, at this time of the season, makes for a recipe easy to figure out.
West Brom v Leeds: Over 3.5 Goals – 7/4
I probably don’t need to explain this one, but I’ll give it a go anyway.
Leeds just scored five times and conceded four times in the exact same game. They are a gorgeous basket case of a football club and they need to be watched – and I mean that in a number of different ways, too.
West Brom, for all their attacking resolve, possess a rather weak defensive record for a side who are in the automatic promotion spots come the new year, and it appears that reckless abandon is once again the order of the day for these two.
After all, why would you change anything? Finishing first or finishing second in the Championship is a good argument to have.
* All odds correct at time of posting.