Football – England – Championship
Friday 21st December 2012 – Kickoff: 1945hrs
Mid-table Blackpool take on Wolves at Bloomfield Road in one of two Championship fixtures scheduled for Friday night and all three points for the hosts tonight would see them move up to within one point and one place of play-off rivals Millwall in 6th place.
Despite getting off to a slow start following the departure of former manager Ian Holloway to Crystal Palace, Matty Appleton has instilled a greater degree of consistency in his squad and his hard work is starting to pay off with The Seasiders now unbeaten in their last eight league matches. Blackpool have started their ‘revival’ under the radar with wins over Sheffield Wednesday, Peterborough United and most satisfyingly of all, against local rivals Blackburn Rovers in last weekend’s all-Lancashire clash.
Blackpool’s home record now stands at a more respectable 4-5-2 23/15 and this recent run of improved form has also seen them nick points off Bolton, Watford and second placed Crystal Palace. They are also unbeaten in their last six at Bloomfield Road and with players like Thomas Ince (13 goals, 9 assists) hitting a purple-patch of form, they stand every chance of taking all the spoils here tonight. Other dangers include Gary Taylor-Fletcher (3 goals, 4 assists), Nathan Delfouneso (4 goals, 3 assists) and Nouha Dicko (5 goals).
Visitors Wolves have not had the sort of campaign to match their pre-season expectations so far as they find themselves languishing in the lower reaches of the Championship along with midlands rivals Birmingham City, both clubs were expected to be challenging for at least a play-off place come May.
However, things have not gone according to plan for Stale Solbakken’s side as they’ve won just twice in their last twelve Championship matches and have taken just nine points from a possible 36 on offer so their current position of 18th place is certainly deserved.
Wolves’ recent rare wins have been over Bristol City 4-1 away and a local derby win over Birmingham City at Molineux, but aside from those victories, there’s little to suggest that a dramatic revival is on the cards anytime soon as they’ve succumbed to defeats against Middlesbrough, Millwall, Nottingham Forest, Watford, Hull City, Burnely and Huddersfield Town during this dreadful run.
Wolves’ away record stands at 4-0-7 13/15 and they’ve won just once in their last six away outings (at 21st placed Bristol City) and they will do well to avoid defeat at Blackpool on Friday night too as they’ve kept just three clean sheets in their last fourteen away matches. Kevin Doyle, Sylvain Ebanks-Blake and Bernard Sako are the danger men for Wolves, but very often they find themselves being outscored by at least one goal due to their all-too-common lapses in defence.
Blackpool’s firepower and home advantage along with their unbeaten momentum behind them should prove too strong for a Wolves outfit who are capable of scoring goals but very adept at throwing it away at the back. Confidence in the manager may also be tested very soon, so I’ll go for a Blackpool home win here perhaps 2-1 but take the handicap to be on the safe side.
Pick: Blackpool AH-0.25 @ 1.85 Pinnacle