Birmingham City v Swansea City
Sky Bet Championship. Kick off: Friday 17th August, 7.45pm. Live on Sky Sports football.
Former Birmingham player Graham Potter sees his relegated Swansea side travel to Birmingham to face Swansea old boy Gary Monk's Birmingham side in a battle of the old boys.
Birmingham will be looking to kick start their season in front of their own fans and the TV cameras and not spend another season battling the drop whilst Swansea will be looking to bounce back to the Premier league at the first attempt.
Whilst it is still too early in the season to gauge any real form for both sides I believe there is value to be had mainly in the 1st half market.
Swansea have kept a decent backbone of their squad after relegation with the likes of Leroy Fer, Tom Carroll and Nathan Dyer and also have a Scottish contingent in Jay Fulton, Ollie McBurnie and Barrie McKay who between them have contributed 2 goals and an assist so far this season as Swansea have collected maximum points from their 2 games.
Birmingham have added Gary Gardner on loan from Aston Villa and boast namesake Craig Gardner in their ranks but due to a transfer embargo earlier in the summer have been restricted in any transfer activity which could point to another tough season in the championship for the Blues who have drawn and lost in their opening two league fixtures.
Close to call
The sides haven't met in the league since 2008 but have met more recently in cup competitions with Swansea recording back to back wins away to Birmingham on both occasions and scoring twice on both occasions. Swansea are slight favourites on the night at 6/4 with Birmingham 7/4 and the draw 23/10 (all prices bet365) and although I fancy Swansea to pick up all 3 points in a tight affair it is the first half market where I think there may be a bit of value.
Last season at the interval Birmingham were drawing in 10 of their 23 home league matches (43%) with 8 (80%) of them being goalless. Swansea in 19 away matches in the Premier league were level in 8 of their matches at the interval (42%) with 7 (88%) of them being 0-0. Birmingham only scored 11 first half goals and conceded 9 in their 23 home ties with Swansea scoring a measly 4 times in the first 45 mins of their 19 away ties and conceding 14 times. With so little goals on show from both sides, both scored and conceded, I like the look of a draw at the interval at 21/20 (bet365) and 0-0 correct score at half time at 33/20 (marathonbet).
Game of two halves?
As previously mentioned I do fancy Swansea to take all 3 points mainly due to their better start to the season and personally feel they have the better players. Draw half time /Swansea full time is priced at 11/2 (betfred) and with Swansea to score their first goal in 2nd half is 21/10 (betway).
- Draw half-time/Swansea full-time 11/2 (betfred)