Championship predictions: Burnley to prove too much for Stoke
- Recommended bets
- Back over 2.5 goals in Birmingham vs Hull
- Back Norwich to win and over 2.5 goals against Reading
- Back Burnley to win and over 2.5 goals at Stoke
- Back the draw between Swansea and Watford
The festive fixtures continue in the Championship on Friday, and we have picked out a bet in each contest in the second tier.
Birmingham vs Hull (Friday, 7.45pm)
Hull have won only one of their previous eight Championship matches, but four of the last six have ended all square.
Birmingham have been similarly inconsistent, winning two and losing two of their last seven Championship games while drawing three.
While Tuesday's heavy defeat to red-hot Burnley was no disgrace, it was the fourth time in five matches that Birmingham had conceded at least twice. However, the Blues have also scored two or more goals in three of their last six outings.
Hull have scored three or more goals in three of their last five matches but have one of the Championship's worst defensive away records, conceding 19 in 11 road trips.
Both teams are struggling for consistency, but this could be a more entertaining match than the markets expect.
Hull are undefeated in five away games and while there are a pair of 0-0 draws at Watford and Millwall in that run, there is also a 3-1 victory over Blackpool, a 4-2 win at Rotherham and a 3-2 defeat of Cardiff.
Each of Birmingham's last three home matches have seen at least three goals, so a small bet on over 2.5 goals could be a decent way of negotiating a tricky game.
Norwich vs Reading (Friday, 7.45pm)
Three defeats in four preceded Tuesday's sacking of Dean Smith, but it was Norwich's record of just three wins in 14 meetings with teams outside the bottom ten that will have spooked the board.
Reading come into this match having won three of their last four league games, but the Royals have been fortunate in all three victories, failing to outperform their opponents in expected goals in any of those three matches.
Before Thursday's matches, Reading's away record against teams above them in the Championship read one win, no draws and four defeats, with just three goals scored and ten conceded.
It is hard to know how any team will react to a managerial sacking, but given the quality of the Norwich squad, it would be no surprise to see a bounce from the Canaries.
Reading supporters will be pleased with recent results, but the performances have not been convincing, and they may face a more focused Norwich side on Friday night.
There is no appeal to backing the hosts at odds-on, but with eight of Reading's 11 defeats this season featuring three goals or more, there's enough reason to back a high-scoring battle.
Stoke vs Burnley (Friday, 7.45pm)
Stoke drew 1-1 at Turf Moor in early October but that was back when Burnley were struggling to convert draws into wins, with seven of the Clarets' first 12 league games ending in a stalemate.
Since then, Vincent Kompany's men have taken off, winning ten in 12 and scoring three goals in five of their last six outings.
All but one of Stoke's five positive results in their last ten league outings came against teams in the bottom half of the Championship as the table stood at kick-off.
Stoke are a decent enough team to be confident of avoiding getting sucked into the relegation mire, but they are far from secure defensively and have one of the worst home records in the second tier.
Burnley are in great form, and they should be able to put several past Stoke's leaky defence.
Swansea vs Watford (Friday, 7.45pm)
Promotion-chasing Watford have suffered some damaging setbacks in their last six matches, losing at home to Millwall and Coventry while drawing against struggling pair Hull and Bristol City.
The Hornets' only wins in that run came against rock-bottom Huddersfield and a then woefully out-of-form Reading side.
Swansea have failed to win any of their last eight league games but have lost only three of those, with five ending all-square.
Neither team has been convincing of late, with Swansea returning from the World Cup break with two defeats and a draw, while Watford will be disappointed with a four-point haul from a trip to Huddersfield alongside home matches against Hull and Millwall.
It is hard to strongly fancy either on recent form, but the Swans can be justifiably aggrieved to have taken only one point from their last three matches, having outperformed their opponents by a full goal or more on expected goals.
While a strong attacking side, the Swans' lack of defensive solidity means they often fail to get the points their play deserves.