Robins’ winless run to continue
Sheffield Wednesday 2.1211/10 v Bristol City 43/1; The Draw 3.39/4
Bristol City have endured a miserable campaign with the Robins having comprehensively failed to challenge for the play-offs despite their positive start to the season. Notwithstanding an initial upturn in form following the arrival of Nigel Pearson, the Robins have struggled to find the back of the net in recent weeks, and currently sit in 14th place. Pearson has admitted that it may take several transfer windows to resolve the issues at Ashton Gate, and many fans are hoping that the former Leicester boss is offered a long-term contract this summer.
Injury problems haven’t helped the club’s quest for a top half finish this season, with Antoine Semenyo the latest player to hobble off. The 21-year old left the field with five minutes to play at the weekend with experienced defender Danny Simpson also picking up a knock in the second half. With several first team players unlikely to return for this fixture, the Robins are a little short on personnel and as a result, youngsters Tommy Conway and Alex Scott are likely to be amongst the subs once again.
The visitors have struggled at Ashton Gate in recent weeks, however, despite their victory at St. Andrews in mid-March, they are also now winless in their last two away trips. They struggled to create anything of note against Blackburn Rovers, and they were also second best against relegation-threatened Coventry City a fortnight ago. .
Sheffield Wednesday‘s upturn in form was short-lived, and the Owls come into this game off the back of successive defeats. They were hammered by QPR at the weekend, with Julian Borner, Tom Lees and Osaze Urohghide struggling to get to grips with the power of Lyndon Dykes. They were slightly better in midweek, and were competitive throughout the majority of their 2-0 defeat to high-flying Swansea.
Darren Moore is the perfect manager to build ahead of next season, and with several high-profile players out of contract this summer, the former Doncaster boss will oversee a major rebuild in the coming months. Their chances of survival are looking slim, and with just five games left to play, they must take maximum points here.
Barry Bannan was instrumental against Cardiff at the beginning of the month, however, the diminutive midfielder has endured an inconsistent campaign, and fans will be hoping that he is able to put in another dazzling display this weekend. Adam Reach and Callum Paterson have plenty of quality and endeavour, whilst Jordan Rhodes appears to have rediscovered his appetite for goalscoring since the managerial switch.
The hosts didn’t do enough to test Freddy Woodman in midweek, however, they are coming up against a side who have very little to play for, and look bereft of ideas going forward. The Owls need to pick up all three points here and at 2.1211/10, they are worth chancing.
Swansea 1.548/15 v Wycombe 8.415/2; The Draw 4.1
Swansea appear to have finally overcome their end-of-season blip and arrive here off the back of consecutive away victories. Although only Bristol City and Huddersfield have produced poorer xG numbers across the last four matches, the Welsh side certainly appear to have turned a corner.
Crucially, Steve Cooper has found a way to get his strikers firing again with both Andre Ayew and Jamal Lowe overcoming barren spells to notch in the last seven days. Although he was understandably delighted with the result, Cooper was keen to highlight his side’s much-improved performance against Millwall seven days ago, and following their side’s drab goalless draw with Preston earlier in the month, fans will have been pleased to see their team display far more urgency in the final third.
Successive victories have helped to reinforce the club’s play-off credentials, and they now have a nine point cushion on seventh place Reading. The Swansea face the Royals on April 25th, and must also visit high-flying Watford on the final day of the campaign, so they will see this weekend’s clash with Wycombe as a ‘must win’.
The Chairboys are also desperate for three points and cannot afford any more slip ups this season. The majority of pundits wrote them off pre-season and very few would have expected the Buckinghamshire club to still be fighting at this late stage of the campaign. Whatever happens over the next couple of weeks, Gareth Ainsworth can feel immensely proud of his team’s effort and spirit.
It’s always a dangerous tactic to completely dismiss them, and despite being continuously priced up as outsiders, they’ve managed to avoid defeat in four of their last six outings. They were competitive against Luton at the weekend, however, Josh Knight‘s dismissal proved to be their undoing and they subsequently collapsed in the final 15 minutes.
Despite their perilous position, they have numerous players who have proved themselves at this level. Uche Ikpeazu has terrorised many opposition defenders this year, whilst Anis Mehmeti and Admiral Muskwe have both performed with enormous credit in recent weeks. Anthony Stewart has been a colossus at the back for Ainsworth’s men and the big defender could be in for another busy afternoon at the Liberty.
Swansea can be backed at 1.548/15 on the Exchange, however, it may be worth opting for Under 2.5 Goals at 1.774/5 instead. Wycombe have kept four clean sheets in six, and they looked reasonably comfortable until they went down to ten men at the weekend. Swansea have kept back-to-back clean sheets and they’ve only conceded 2+ goals in one of their last 10 matches. It ended 2-0 to Swansea when these sides met earlier in the campaign, and we could see a very similar outcome this weekend.
Forest to ease their way to safety
Nottingham Forest 2.1411/10 v Huddersfield 3.953/1; The Draw 3.259/4
Neither Nottingham Forest nor Huddersfield are completely safe from relegation this season, however, the East Midlands outfit are in a far better position than their rivals. Chris Hughton has taken his time to mastermind his side’s escape, however, the Tricky Trees have hit form at just the right time, and they should be able to collect another three points this weekend.
They are unbeaten in five of their last six matches, and they stuck three past in-form QPR a fortnight ago. Forest have always been tough to breach, however, goalscoring has been a major issue for them this season, and only three sides (Derby, Wycombe and Birmingham) have netted fewer times than Hughton’s men. However, the emergence of Alex Mighten and loanee James Garner, coupled with Lewis Grabban’s return to form, has helped them rediscover their goalscoring touch throughout March and April.
Forest will have been disappointed with their failure to collect maximum points against Bristol City last weekend. They out-shot their opponents 16-4, hit the woodwork and fired in nine efforts from inside the box. Their xG numbers have started to creep upwards in recent weeks, and they are currently trending in the right direction. Three points would essentially secure safety and they will be keen to preserve their Championship status with four matches left to play.
Huddersfield find themselves in a far trickier position and have significantly less breathing space than this weekend’s hosts. Carlos Corberan‘s side were defeated by in-form Bournemouth in midweek, and despite positive performances from Jonathan Hogg, Aaron Rowe and Duane Holmes, they were unable to sufficiently test the Cherries back-line. Defending has proved a real issue for the Terriers this season, and only Wycombe have shipped more goals than the West Yorkshire outfit.
At the other end of the field, the goals have dried up, and they have failed to net more than a single goal in any match since February 20th. Having failed to register in two of their last three matches, they are likely to struggle against a team who enjoy controlling possession and are comfortably able to keep opposition sides at arm’s length.
Corberan was pleased with his side’s second-half display on Tuesday, however, they need to be far better all over the pitch this weekend if they are to get something from this encounter. Nottingham Forest can be backed at 2.1411/10 to collect three points and they should be too good for the struggling visitors.
You can follow Jack Critchley on Twitter @jcritch7