We focus on a Saturday lunchtime clash in the Championship, as Sunderland play host to Birmingham.
The Second Tier
A fixture where Wayne Rooney will look to finally earn his first win since taking over the Birmingham managerial reins.
Victory Still Eluding
With Leicester and Ipswich both clear in the Championship distance, the race for places third through to sixth is capturing the most interest as of late and with as many 12 teams harbouring realistic play-off hopes at the end of the season, two of the sides meet on Saturday.
The two teams in question are Sunderland and Birmingham and with the former lying eighth in the table and the latter 15th, their respective fortunes will need to improve if a play-off place is eventually to be obtained.
A place that Sunderland managed to secure at the back end of last season and although their path to Wembley was blocked off by now promoted Luton, Tony Mowbray’s young squad have certainly got a taste for more.
While opponents Birmingham did find themselves in the top six just a few weeks ago – a position cultivated under the stewardship of John Eustace. A position that was also not high enough when a shinier new toy was made available to the club’s board.
One that was shaped in the mould of Wayne Rooney and with the former Manchester United legend calling time on his managerial tenure in the MLS, his arrival in the West Midlands quickly became one of the more open secrets in football.
A secret that was finally confirmed just a month ago and in those four weeks, the Blues have undertaken a slide down the table. 12 points on offer to Rooney and his new Birmingham charges, just one point collected among a growing number of boos.
From a Birmingham supporters’ point of view, they will have been looking at the last four league outings and asking themselves why the change was made - especially as they first three finished with successive defeats.
A run that was ended with a 2-2 draw at home to Ipswich and although last Saturday’s stalemate looks good on paper, you must not forget that the visitors found themselves two goals down with 40 minutes remaining.
While Saturday’s hosts also had to make do with a draw last time out and although the Black Cats failed to net at Swansea, their 0-0 draw felt closer to a win after Sunderland’s Anthony Paterson saved Jamal Lowe’s penalty late on.
But now it is time for the first of my two tips and for this one, I am going to craft a two-leg bet builder. Sunderland to win on its own does not offer too much value, add in under 2.5 goals and this is priced at 16/5.
In addition to this, I am going to look at when the first goal of the game will be scored. Birmingham have conceded 21% of their 19 against in the bracket of 51 to 60 minutes. Should the opener for either side be netted in this window, the reward is a rather tasty prize of 12/1.