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Birmingham trip to Burton may be dull

Sky Bet Championship
Sky Sports Football 7.45pm Friday


Two teams who managed no shots on target between them in their last fixtures do battle and it may not be pretty when Birmingham head to Burton in the Sky Bet Championship.

Maybe bookmakers should bet on over/under 2.5 shots on target never mind 2.5 goals. With both teams lacking an attacking punch this looks set to be a tight match, something which is highlighted by the odds.

Finding worthwhile wagers is as difficult as picking a winner and a bet on at least one team not scoring could be the best punt.

Burton performed excellently to stay up last season as Nigel Clough's men battled against teams with much bigger budgets to finish 20th. However, Albion were only one point above the drop zone and life could be even tougher this time around.

The early fixture list has not been kind with trips to relegated Middlesbrough and Hull as well as a home opener against fast-starting Cardiff, but they have suffered three straight defeats, picking up red cards in both away matches to make things even more difficult.

Those red cards to Jackson Irvine (after 38 minutes at Boro) and Hope Akpan (after 78 minutes at Hull) will have impacted on Burton's performances but having two shots on target in 270 minutes suggests it will be a difficult campaign for Albion.

From those statistics they have done well to score a goal - Irvine equalised at Hull before his dismissal - although it is clear the absence of record signing Liam Boyce is a blow.

Boyce was supposed to be their leading hitman having won the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership Golden Boot last season but was ruled out for the season just before the campaign started. 

It has left Clough searching for loan deals with Cauley Woodrow turning down the opportunity to return to the Pirelli from Fulham. If Birmingham keep Irvine quiet it is difficult to see where the hosts' attacking threat will come from.

However, Birmingham themselves were shot-shy in Tuesday's dire goalless stalemate with Bolton that saw the promoted visitors shade a mainly dismal encounter.

Harry Redknapp has spent the summer calling for reinforcements but he and the club have mainly been left frustrated. Isaac Vassell arrived earlier this week from Luton and is a speedster with potential, although it appears as if the experienced manager was promised far more than has been delivered on the signings front.

Last season's top goalscorer, Lukas Jutkiewicz, got 45 minutes into his legs on Tuesday but is not 100 per cent fit and it may that be City will not be seen at their best until after the international break.

Birmingham, though, have a strong defence with wantaway Ryan Shotton not allowed to depart until replacements have been signed, while Marc Roberts and Michael Morrison are other options in front of top goalkeeper David Stockdale.

Recommendation
One or both teams not to score

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Match in Focus

15:00 TODAY

Southampton v West Ham

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Southampton haven’t scored in any of their last six home games
Expert verdict
Southampton scored at a rate of under a goal-per-game at home in the Premier League last season and fired yet another blank in last weekend’s opening fixture against Swansea. West Ham usually fare well against the Saints. They have lost just two of their last six league visits, drawing three times.