Good start to the day with the Villa- Blackburn bet landed inside 43 minutes and our tiny but huge odds multiple bet off to a flyer !
CRYSTAL PALACE - NORWICH CITY
Big game for both, three points for Palace, who have yet to win, or even score a goal,under new boss Dougie Freedman, would see them climb out of the drop zone, for City, a point would take them up into an automatic playoff spot. Freedman has been busy taking vastly experienced Lennie Lawrence as his assistant and re-signing James Vaughan on loan from Everton, this will be Vaughan's second spell at the club, scoring five goals in 14 appearances previously. During that time he worked with Freedman in training a lot and now Palace have plenty of offensive options with Vaughan, Counago, Easter, Iversen and Ambrose ( who will strip fitter after returning last week) all vying for starting roles. Freedman was prepared to gamble last week at home to Bristol City pushing men forward in search of a winner and we can expect him to do likewise today. Both these two open up after the break, with their games this season averaging well over 1.5 goals in the second half. City are very solid on the road, with a 6-5-2 record, but struggle to keep a clean sheet with just one in 14 starts, which came against league leaders QPR, actually they have two clean sheets against QPR this season a double which not many clubs will achieve.
Late goals are a real feature of the visitor's matches, their last 7 sarts have seen 12 in the last 29 minutes, with five in the last 5 minutes of play.City have claimed points from 5 of the 8 matches in which they have trailed at the half and along with QPR have collected most points after the break when going in leve l. Palace have only scored 5 goals in the 10 matches in which they have trailed, losing 9 and only turning around one, the reverse fixture at Carrow Road. That might be key, I kind of sense an upset today and goals maybe late n the match, but let's see how the first half plays out.
Vaughan and Ambrose start, lots of goals on bench, massive away support in the ground.
HULL CITY - QPR
City have let Bullard go to Ipswich, but signed Tunisian international Tijani Belaid on a short term loan, he spent his formative years at Internazionale and has, I have heard, really impressed at the club in training,he is anxious to claim a full time deal and if he can adapt to the pace of the game in the Championship, he should be an asset. We have talked recently about how much stronger the squad is now at Hull and we watched them last week at Reading, they disappointed early, but stepped up their game after the break, especially with the introduction of Manchester United player Corey Evans and after taking the lead, were perhaps unlucky not to claim the spoils with Matty Fryatt missing a very good chance. Still, a point at the Madejski is not to be sniffed at and City have now lost just once in 12 in a tough run of fixtures. Rangers have not really fired since Boxing Day but have stregthened the squad in the transfer window, with three EPL quality players and they are only interested in getting across the finishing line and probably don't care how it happens. They still play almost everything through Taarabt, who has been sensational this season, the ball he played Routledge to set up the winner against Coventry last week was out of this world, and visiting boss Aidy Boothroyd said he was tempted to run on the pitch to kick him, as it was the only way he could be stopped !
Rangers are 8-0-0 when ahead at the half, but have only scored four times in the five in which they have trailed, without winning. They do have the best record in the Championship when level at the break, when they are much stronger ( unless behind) scoring 70% of their goals, yet conceding only 50% in the second period.
BRENTFORD - YEOVIL TOWN
My beloved Bees really need this one if they are to get something out of the season. They will have benefitted from a free week after looking jaded recently and should strip much fresher than Yeovil, who will be without two starting defenders today, after both were dismissed at Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday night, leaving the west country side to play 30 minutes with 9 men ! That is a lot of running to say nothing of a long trip to Yorkshire and back followed by another away day to the capital just 2-3 days later. Town are the worst second half team in the division with only four wins and are 0-0-8 when trailing, scoring just 4 times. Bees are good when they get their noses in front, with a 5-0-0 record , conceding just once when leading at half time, but are almost as poor as Yeovil (0-1-6) when behind. They are overdue some goals and if Brentford can get ahead early, they could run away with this, with the visitors surely set to tire on what is a draining Griffin Park pitch at present. We will see how the surace holds up come half time.
I will update all three games by email at half time as usual.