Easter Monday sees some big matches in the Championship as promotion-chasers West Ham and Birmingham go head-to-head, while at the other end Bristol City host Coventry City.
In perhaps the biggest game of the day, West Ham (10/1 Championship outright @ Betfred
) face Blues with both sides knowing that a victory will go a long way to sealing their position in the play-off places (West Ham 6/5, draw 12/5, Birmingham 11/5).
Despite a lightning quick start to the season, the Hammers have struggled of late, especially at home, where they haven’t won since beating Millwall at the beginning of February.
If they are to break their duck on Monday they will need their big players to stand up and be counted and Sam Allardyce will be looking for a big performance from skipper Kevin Nolan. The experienced midfielder scored the opener in Friday’s win at Barnsley and he will once again be hoping to inspire his side to victory.
Birmingham are currently on a run of four games without defeat and, after an inconsistent beginning to
the campaign, Chris Hughton’s men appear to be finding their form at just the right time.
The Blues have a number of standout players but striker Nikola Zigic (15/8 to score at anytime) is often the man who digs them out of trouble.
The Serbian had a difficult first season in England but has found his feet this year and looks like one of the division’s best strikers. It’s also worth noting that the Hammers have struggled to deal with his height in previous matches and he will certainly be looking to once again torment the West Ham rearguard.
With West Ham’s current home troubles, they could be nervous ahead of the match and Birmingham’s good form suggests that they could just sneak it, but it’s sure to be tight.
Perhaps the other major game of the day is the clash between 21st place Bristol City and Coventry who sit a single spot below them (Bristol City 5/4, draw 9/4, Coventry 9/4).
The Robins will be confident going into the game as they’re unbeaten in three, including Saturday’s victory at Nottingham Forest.
Key to their chances of victory will be journeyman striker Jon Stead (3/2 to score at anytime) who finally appears to have found a home at Ashton Gate after years of moving around. The 29-year-old may not always get on the scoresheet but his work for the side is invaluable so look out for him to provide assists to the likes of Chris Wood and Brett Pitman.
The Sky Blues have struggled on and off the pitch this season and manager Andy Thorn has certainly had his hands tied due to the financial constraints of the club.
However, they appear to have found some form recently and are unbeaten in their last seven matches and know victory on Monday will go a long way to them avoiding relegation.
Their one to watch looks as if it could be veteran forward Clive Platt who, like the aforementioned Stead, may not get the headlines but often performs. The 34-year-old hasn’t scored since the start of February and will be desperate to break his duck in Bristol.
Both teams will be confident going into the game but home advantage could be crucial and Derek McInnes side should just nick it.