The games are set to come thick and fast in the EFL Championship – the second tier of England’s footballing pyramid – with the third round of fixtures set to be played this coming weekend. And promotion hopefuls Middlesbrough top the early table, with two wins and a draw having already played three matches – the club travel to Bristol City this Saturday afternoon (18 August).
First things first
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On the Friday night, two former Premier League clubs meet when Birmingham City and Swansea City lock horns at St. Andrews. The two clubs have started the season very differently; under Garry Monk, Birmingham are yet to win a game and have a solitary point so far.
By way of comparison, Swansea, having been relegated from the Premier League this past May, look to be adjusting quickly to life in the second tier. The Welsh club boast a 100 per cent record, having picked up three points against both Sheffield United and Preston North End so far.
It is therefore perhaps if little surprise that it is Swansea who come in as the favourites to take the points in this one as well. You can back the visitors to pick up a third league win in a row at a price of 2.50, while home side Birmingham are at 2.75 – a narrow, 1-0 win for Swansea, meanwhile, comes in at 7.50, according to the Oddsshark site.
Middlesbrough look to build on promising early start
And one side looking to build up a head of steam is Middlesbrough. Under veteran boss Tony Pulis, who made his name at Stoke City, Middlesbrough are one of the favourites to win promotion to the Premier League this season.
Boro are at just 3.25 to be promoted back to the top flight, and 1.80 to finish in the top six, which would earn them a play-off spot. They have so far picked up seven points from three games, scoring at an average of two goals per game.
Bristol City have yet to win and are also yet to lose – both of their games have ended in a stalemate and a draw against an in form Middlesbrough side would probably be seen as a good result as well. There looks to be very little to split the two teams, with both sides priced at 2.62 to take all three points.
A draw is priced even higher at 3.25, but it may well be worth backing in these circumstances. A 1-1 draw is priced at 6.00, meaning that a US$5 bet would lead to a US$30 pay out, or alternatively you can go for the “Double Chance” option, which allows you to opt for two possible outcomes for the match rather than just one.
A Bristol City win or a draw is at 1.50, as is a Middlesbrough win or a draw. Alternatively, you can back either side to take all three points at a price of 1.35.
Brentford look to maintain unbeaten start
And the Sunday game this weekend comes from Griffin Park, as Brentford host Sheffield Wednesday. Brentford have picked up four points from their opening two matches, while Wednesday have made a more sluggish start, winning neither of their games and collecting just one point.
And Brentford come into the match as the clear favourites to make it two wins from three. You can back Brentford to take all three points at just 1.50, while Sheffield Wednesday are all the way out at 7.00 to pick up their first win of the new campaign – a draw is priced in the middle t 4.00.
In their last home game, Brentford hit five as they thrashed newly promoted Rotherham 5-1. While this game may well be closer we could still see goals in this one.
Over 2.5 goals is priced at just 1.70, while you could more than double your money by backing under 2.5 goals at 2.10. And while it is never easy trying to predict the exact score line of a game, a 3-1 win for Brentford is priced at 12.00, offering more than a ten-fold return on any investment.
Championship round 3 fixtures:
Friday, 17 August
(2.75) Birmingham x Swansea (2.50); draw (3.30)
Saturday, 18 August
(2.62) Bristol City x Middlesbrough (2.62); draw (3.25)
(2.25) Hull City x Blackburn Rovers (3.10); draw (3.40)
(3.60) Ipswich Town x Aston Villa (2.05); draw (3.40)
(1.40) Leeds United x Rotherham (6.50); draw (4.50)
(2.25) Millwall x Derby County (3.30); draw (3.20)
(2.00) Reading x Bolton Wanderers (3.75); draw (3.40)
(1.95) Sheffield United x Norwich City (4.00); draw (3.30)
(1.61) West Brom x QPR (6.00); draw (3.60)