Old Gold can tame Terriers
Simon Grayson was heralding the wide-open nature of the Championship earlier this week but his Huddersfield side could be in for a rather chastening experience against a tidy Wolves outfit at the John Smith's Stadium on Saturday. Take the even money quotes about the visitors on the draw no bet market.
Only six points separate the top 11 teams after 10 matches and the former Leeds boss believes the concertina effect is likely to continue beyond Christmas, much to the benefit of the newly-promoted Terriers. In his words: "I don't think anyone could pick out the two teams they'd say were favourites. Everyone is capable of beating any other side on a particular day."
He's right, of course, on the second point at least. The Championship has been a wayward playground for as long as most punters care to remember but it can also be a source of steady income when you pick the right battles on tactical grounds and this could be a case of Premier League pedigree preying on the naivety of excitable newcomers.
The Terriers got a taste of what to expect when going down 2-0 at home to Leicester in their penultimate game before the international break. Possession was near-enough equal but the Foxes restricted the hosts to just two shots, while peppering Alex Smithies' goal with a dozen efforts at the other end.
We don't rate Wanderers quite as highly as Nigel Pearson's men but they're almost as miserly and we'd fancy Town to over-commit themselves at some point, leaving the door open for the visitors to plunder their fourth successive away win, the previous three of which were all achieved with a clean sheet.
Stale Solbakken arrived at Molineux as a relative unknown quantity in the summer but the Old Gold are policing their penalty box in a manner that shows how much the Dane already knew about the division when he accepted the challenge. Wolves are the only side in the Championship that haven't conceded a goal from within the six-yard box.
All of which considered, we see plenty of mileage in any wager that keeps the stalemate onside. The two teams have only played out three draws between them, but don't let that detract you from taking out the insurance: the visitors go about their business in a reactionary manner with the emphasis on avoiding defeat.
Meanwhile, the market disagrees with Grayson's assertion that the division lacks two obvious favourites with Cardiff and Leicester inching towards odds-on territory for promotion, and we can't resist a nibble of the Bluebirds at 11/5 for their trip to Nottingham Forest.
The league leaders have an abundance of firepower, scoring at least twice in each of their last eight matches, and they would be heading to the City Ground on the back of seven straight wins had complacency not enabled Crystal Palace to pick their pockets a month ago, the Eagles battling back from 2-0 down to win 3-2.
Forest, by contrast, are finding goals much harder to come by. They can be sure to knock the ball about in a way that pleases the purists with Sean O'Driscoll running the show, but the philosophy of the former Doncaster boss isn't one that is likely to transform them into serious promotion contenders overnight.
The Reds have fired blanks in their last two home matches - against Derby and Blackburn - and though Cardiff could play into their hands a bit more by going all-out for maximum points, the price is tasty enough for us to take our chances. If the game turns into a goalfest, you'd invariably expect the Bluebirds to have the final say.
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