Midweek Championship Tips: Hornets to register fourth consecutive success at Ewood Park

Rovers to slump to fourth consecutive defeat

Blackburn Rovers 3.1511/5 v Watford 2.56/4; The Draw 3.3512/5
Wednesday, 19:45

Blackburn Rovers made a superb start to the Championship season when netting 11 times in their opening three matches. However, the Lancashire outfit have slipped back into midtable, and the goals have dried up in recent weeks. Teams managed by Tony Mowbray tend to be attack-minded, and his side are still averaging around five shots on target per 90 minutes.

Only high-flying Norwich have produced more efforts on goal this season, however, Rovers have failed to make them count, and haven’t scored more than a single goal in a game since January 2nd.

Mowbray took plenty of positives from his side’s weekend defeat at the City Ground, and he was pleased with the effort of his players. Rovers hit the woodwork and saw stand-in captain Adam Armstrong‘s penalty saved by Brice Samba. With the exception of their insipid defeat to Preston, they are still managing to create chances, however, they are currently struggling to find a way through.

The under-fire manager is starting to feel the pressure, and his post-match demeanour has changed in recent weeks. His chopping and changing of the formation (from 4-3-3 to 3-5-2) has suggested that he is desperately trying to find a solution to his side’s attacking woes, and he could opt to utilise Bradley Dack for this fixture.

Mowbray is a wonderful coach who specialises in improving young players, however, he’s rarely been famed for his tactical nous, and his penchant for throwing on multiple strikers when chasing a game rarely pays dividends. He has a number of hugely talented individuals available, although forging them into a fully functioning collective is proving to be a tough ask.

Blackburn’s struggles in front of goal will surely be good news for a Watford side whose promotion ambitions have been reignited in recent weeks. Xisco Munoz has overseen three consecutive victories, and the Spaniard has guided his side to four clean sheets in their last six outings. The Hornets are also unbeaten in four away games, and haven’t conceded a goal on their travels since mid-January.

Although Munoz was heavily reliant upon the experience of Troy Deeney during his early days in the dugout, he has recently opted to refresh the forward line, utilising the talents of Joao Pedro, Ken Sema and Ismaila Sarr. The trio have given the Hertfordshire side some much needed pace in forward areas, and with Andre Gray, Stipe Perica and Philip Zinckernagel all waiting in the wings, they have a wealth of talent to call upon.

The visitors have been poor on the road this season, however, the tide appears to be turning, and they will be looking to continue their momentum on Wednesday night. They are level on points with out-of-form Brentford and they can put pressure on leaders Norwich by collecting another three points here.

Blackburn’s lack of clinical edge could count against them, therefore it makes sense to back a rejuvenated Watford outfit at 2.56/4 on the Exchange.

Entertaining 90 minutes at the Vitality

Bournemouth 2.265/4 v Cardiff 3.55/2; The Draw 3.45
Wednesday, 19:45

Despite being linked with the likes of Thierry Henry and David Wagner, Bournemouth have opted to put Jonathan Woodgate in charge until the end of the season. The former defender wasn’t particularly effective at Middlesbrough, however, the Teessider has done an excellent job in helping to steady the ship on the south coast.

He’s won two of his four matches in charge, and helped end a run of four consecutive defeats. Despite this, his side were beaten by in-form QPR at the weekend.

The Cherries have kept two clean sheets in their last three, however, they looked defensive suceptible in West London, and they could struggle to keep a prolific Cardiff outfit at arm’s length.

Chris Mepham had a poor game in the capital, and may be replaced by Diego Rico for this encounter. The Spaniard had been part of a successful back four which had managed to keep Rotherham off the scoresheet, however, he was surprisingly left on the bench at the weekend. Sam Surridge offered some much-needed energy upon his arrival, and he may have done enough to be given a rare start in this midweek fixture.

Woodgate has plenty of talent at his disposal, however, managing the expectations and keeping the majority of the squad happy are likely to be his biggest challenges.

Cardiff have been revolutionised by the appointment of Mick McCarthy, and they continued their ascent with a 4-0 victory over Preston on Saturday afternoon. The Bluebirds are searching for a sixth consecutive victory here, and having netted 13 times in their previous five games, they are likely to take some stopping. Although they’ve only conceded twice during that sequence, they have been giving away chances, and PNE spurned two opportunities from the penalty spot at the weekend.

Midfielder Will Vaulks is one of many players whose form has significantly improved since the managerial switch, and he is clearly benfitting from the Yorkshireman’s unique style of man management.

The visitors have been scoring for fun in recent weeks, and their last seven matches have contained a total of 21 goals. Bournemouth have enough quality in their ranks to get on the scoresheet, however, their defence may not be able to contain the likes of Keiffer Moore, Harry Wilson and the lively Josh Murphy.

This could be a hugely entertaining 90 minutes, and both sides are likely to play their part in a very memorable contest. Over 2.5 Goals is priced at very generous 2.111/10 on the Exchange.

Rams and Terriers to attack with gusto

Derby 2.245/4 v Huddersfield 3.8514/5; The Draw 3.39/4
Tuesday, 19:00

Derby have won five of their last seven Championship games and have eased their relegation worries in the process. Although Wayne Rooney is still in the infancy of his managerial career, he’s shown plenty of tactical nous, and his side have drastically improved their attacking output since he was appointed. Despite the confusion surrounding the prospective takeover, Rooney has managed to keep his focus, and has solely concentrated on footballing matters.

They’ve won each of their last three games at Pride Park, and they will be feeling extremely confident ahead of this midweek clash. The Rams relied on defensive solidity to pick up points earlier in the campaign, however, defensive naivety has started to creep back in, and its now four matches without a clean sheet. The absence of Krystian Beilik hasn’t helped matters and with both Curtis Davies and Matt Clarke also on the sidelines, Derby’s makeshift back-line is difficult to trust.

However, at the other end of the field, the arrival of Lee Gregory has injected some much-needed pace into the frontline, whilst Colin Kazim-Richards has also proved to be very effective. The latter has acclimatised to life in the second tier, and offers a constant threat.

Huddersfield produced one of the most surprising results of the weekend by beating defensively-resolute Swansea at the John Smith’s Stadium. The victory helped to ease the pressure on Carlos Corberan, and pushed the Terriers a little further away from the dropzone. Their attacking qualities are excellent, and they haven’t struggled for goals this season, however, their inability to keep clean sheets and protect leads has proved to be their downfall.

A back three of Naby Sarr, Richard Keogh and Alex Vallejo proved to be far more effective at the weekend, although they couldn’t do anything to prevent Connor Hourihane’s unstoppable free-kick from nestling in the back of the net. Although they looked far more assured at the back, they may struggle to keep the hosts from notching on Tuesday evening. The West Yorkshire outfit haven’t kept a clean sheet since December 19th, and this could be another entertaining 90 minutes.

The Terriers have found the net in each of their last three away games, and Saturday’s performance is likely to give them plenty of confidence in the final third. Both Teams to Score is available at 1.9520/21 on the Exchange and looks to be a sensible way of approaching this intriguing contest.

You can follow Jack Critchley on Twitter @jcritch7

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