QPR – Millwall
Key Queens Park Rangers forward Mackie is expected to be fit, despite being forced off in the previous game. A couple of changes are still anticipated because a formation change is likely. Furlong and Smith should earn recalls into the starting eleven to improve the overall balance ahead of this local derby. Hall, Lynch and Perch, all key defenders, are still out with injury concerns. All three home games have resulted in victory for QPR so far. Loftus Road is a tough place to go for any opponent and QPR will again be confident of beating the -0.25 handicap. The doubt to this is the fact that this is a local derby, and traditionally they are tight, cagey and competitive affairs. This means there could be a lack of rhythm and QPR may not have things all their own way. The 2.5 goal line is perfectly placed as QPR have been involved in three games which contained more and three games which contained fewer goals. They’ve only kept one clean sheet so far though, and do usually score themselves, meaning there is every chance this goal line could be defeated once again. At home, they play offensively, meaning the game could open up, although this is a local derby. Millwall are set to make a couple of changes for this game, one being enforced. Tricky winger O’Brien is banned and shall be replaced by Ferguson, who is a similar type and an international, so clearly possesses quality. Cooper should be recalled at center back to offer more height against a towering QPR forward. Cover striker Elliot is a doubt, but there are other injury concerns in the squad. Excellent home form for QPR and a poor away record for Millwall is why they’ve been given the +0.25 handicap. The reason it isn’t larger is because this is a local derby and the game should turn quite tight and close. Millwall are struggling for goals, especially away, and that needs to change if they are to beat this handicap, so there are big doubts to expecting things to change on Tuesday night. The 2.5 goal line is also perfectly placed for Millwall as four games have contained fewer goals and two more than. However, their three away games have ended 1-0, 0-0 and 1-0, reflecting the fact that they do tighten up away and look to avoid defeat. Throw in the local derby element, and there is every reason to believe under 2.5 goals is possible unless an early goal is scored by either side. QPR have made Loftus Road a place no opposite likes playing again, something Ian Holloway always wanted. This would give them a chance of a play-off place potentially. Motivation is high to win at home again, even more so against a very big local rival in the form of Millwall.
Prediction: QPR -0.25 Asian Handicap
Odds: 2.03 Pinnacle
Sunderland – Nottingham
Sunderland are hopeful that important holding midfielder Cattermole and key creative forward McGeady are fit to return. However it is likely that strong defender Kone misses out through injury, so the experienced O’Shea should come in. A minor formation change is likely too, with recent signing McManaman making his full debut and Vaughan dropping to the bench for the time being. Considering Sunderland last won a home match in December 2016, the -0.5 handicap appears overpriced. Whilst that will of course change this season at some stage, much will depend on their team selection and having certain individuals available. They’ve lost their last three, winless in four, scoring just twice in that time. Nottingham Forest aren’t in the best of form, but at least score goals. The 2.5 goal line appears appropriate on the basis that Sunderland have played six games, with three ending over and three over in terms of goals. However, the reality is the overs mainly come as a result of goals scored by the opposition, apart from on one occasion. If Sunderland can improve in attack, then goals are almost inevitable considering their weak defensive record as well. Nottingham Forest made a number of changes in the last game and Mark Warburton will make more again here. Key midfielder Vaughan is still out, which weakens the team. A change of system is anticipated, with Mills, Traore, Bouchalakis, Dowell and Murphy all backed to come back in. This will improve the quality within the starting eleven, offering more defensive balance and an improved goal threat. The +0.5 handicap looks as an attractive proposition to those backing Nottingham Forest. Although they themselves have lost three out of their last four games, Sunderland are in much worse shape. This season, Nottingham Forest generally score goals, which is why they have a great chance of winning here. Defensively they can improve but Sunderland lack a consistent goal threat anyway. Goals are almost guaranteed in matches involving Nottingham Forest. The 2.5 goal line on offer here has been successful in four of their six matches so far, with the other two being matches containing many chances. A case could be made for unders as Forest conceded poor goals at the weekend, so could potentially elect to be slightly more cautious in their overall approach. That appears unlikely. Three defeats in four is poor for Nottingham Forest, and there are fears slowly beginning to creep in that their strong early start was a false dawn. They’ll still believe they can win this game as they usually score goals, and opponents Sunderland are in a much worse state mentally and literally.
Prediction: Nottingham +0.50 Asian Handicap (same as Double chance)
Odds: 1.77 Pinnacle
Preston – Cardiff
Preston North End are again expected to be without the services of Pearson, a key holding midfield player that always has a big influence. Attacking midfielder Johnson, however, is expected back in the fold, whilst Davies and Harrop are likely to be recalled too, purely to offer some fresh legs to the team for this midweek encounter. Clarke and Cunningham are still out, and have been for some time. After suffering just one defeat in six matches so far, the 0 handicap afforded to Preston here could be understandable. However they do face top of the table Cardiff, who are unbeaten and in terrific form. Preston would need a win to beat this handicap, and it is hard to simply expect that considering they have only scored three goals in six games. They’d probably have to score at least twice. Every game involving Preston so far has contained very few goals. The 2.25 goal line has been offered here, and there is every reason to expect under 2.25 being the end outcome. Much will depend on the timing of the first goal. Preston would defend if scoring it themselves. Cardiff have more of a goal threat, but Preston have the ability to defend in an organized and committed fashion. Cardiff City may just make the one change for this game. Star striker Zohore looked tired on Saturday according to Neil Warnock, with Ward coming off the bench to score. The forward may now be rewarded with a start here. No other changes are expected, but the likes of Manga, Bryson, Feeney and Tomlin would come into contention if the manager wanted to rotate slightly all quality alternatives. The 0 handicap reflects the fact that this game could turn quite cagey. Although Cardiff have started the season excellently, this run will end at some stage. Preston are tough to break down, conceding just twice so far. If Cardiff score first, then the 0 handicap could be defeated as Preston would have to open up, and Cardiff may score again on the break. They’ll play to win this away clash. Cardiff have tended to be involved in mostly tight and close encounters in the Championship so far. They have found the ability to come out on the right side of this. The 2.25 goal line would need at least three goals to be scored to be beaten. Cardiff are just concerned about the win, and if they score first, they know Preston don’t score many so could just defend this advantage and hold on. Cardiff lost their 100% start to the season on Saturday but they remain unbeaten and top of the table. Confidence clearly is no problem, and they now go into tough games almost expecting to gain a positive result.
Prediction: Cardiff +0.00 Asian Handicap (same as Draw no bet)
Odds: 1.85 Pinnacle