Chris Barnett football tipster at free bet specialists BiggestFreeBets.com gives his views on Championship match. The action comes thick and fast as the Championship head into its final stages. This weekend kicks off with an encounter of immense importance as promotion hopefuls Norwich and Middlesbrough face-off at Carrow Road.
Norwich have been the late entrants into the battle for promotion but their strong form since the turn of the year has put them right in contention. Their home form has been excellent during this run and they have won eight of their last eleven matches in front of the Norwich faithful. They have conceded just 8 goals in those eleven games whilst scoring an remarkable 29 times – although that record is inflated due to 5-0 and 6-1 routs over Huddersfield and Millwall respectively.
Nevertheless, those stats show that Norwich possess a solid and well-drilled defence as well as more than enough fire-power going forward. Bradley Johnson, Wes Hoolahan, and Gary Hooper all featured for Norwich in the Premier League last season and the team’s decision to keep hold of their big names has paid off as all are enjoying good seasons. Similarly, the acquisition of Cameron Jerome has been an inspired move. The striker has scored 18 goals and assisted 5 so far this season.
Middlesbrough come into this one trying to cling onto to their automatic promotion chances. Although still well-placed in the league, the Teessiders have been inconsistent of late, particularly on the road, and there is a sense that they need to reassert their dominance from January and early February if they are avoid settling for a playoff spot.
Despite some good home performances, Aitor Karanka’s men have won just once in their last seven away matches, a run which includes 5 defeats. Karanka himself has identified the need to turn things around fast stating that they need to win their remaining three matches to give themselves a chance of promotion.
If they are to win all three, they will need Patrick Bamford to be at his goalscoring best and hope that the events surrounding his penalty in the 2-0 win over Rotherham won’t play on his mind. Boro striker Kike won a spot kick in the dying seconds of the game and wanted to take it himself. However Bamford, the team’s top scorer, claimed he should be on penalty duties. An argument ensued before Bamford stepped up to take the kick and predictably missed culminating in much head-shaking from his Spanish colleague and later an apology from the Englishman.
Bamford was on target when the two teams last met back in November. Middlesbrough rolled out comfortable 4-0 winners with a brace from Grant Leadbitter and a strike from Yanic Wildschut completing the scoring.
I cannot see a repeat of that scoreline this time however. Norwich are a much improved team in 2015 and they face a side struggling to gain momentum. It should be an exciting affair with so much at stake and I would not be surprised if it was also a high scoring one. I think Norwich will win with more than 2.5 goals in the game while Jerome offers good value to open the scoring.