Saturday’s early kick-off in the Championship takes place at St. Andrews as Birmingham City host Brentford.
The hosts returned from lockdown over the summer in dire straits, failing to win any of their nine matches after the hiatus with three draws and six defeats. No side in the division had a worse record over the same period.
Out went Pep Clotet in the Birmingham dugout and in comes former Middlesbrough coach Aitor Karanka, who hasn’t got off to a great start with the Blues losing 1-0 at home to Cambridge in the League Cup last time out. They’ll also have to navigate this season without wonderkid Jude Bellingham, sold to Borussia Dortmund for a record fee for a 17-year-old.
Brentford come into this opener looking to dust themselves down and bounce back from the play-off final defeat in early August, losing to Fulham after extra time after missing two opportunities to move into the top two at the end of the regular league campaign.
They’ll have to do it without their top scorer from last season, Ollie Watkins, who finished as the second tier’s joint top scorer with 26 goals - he’s just signed for Aston Villa. However, for now, they still boast talented attackers Bryan Mbuemo and Said Benrahma, while they’ve retained the same backline that conceded the fewest goals and kept the most clean sheets behind champions Leeds last term.
Paddy Power back Brentford’s summer recruit Ivan Toney - effectively Watkins’ replacement - as the most likely goalscorer here. The Newcastle United academy graduate scored 23 goals for Peterborough last season. He’s priced at 10/3 to score first and 5/4 to score anytime.
We recommend backing Brentford to start their season with a win here, given Birmingham’s post-lockdown form. Brentford were also adept at keeping clean sheets last season, only champions Leeds kept more.
You can boost your odds on a Brentford win by also backing them to keep a clean sheet. Betfair Sportsbook price a Brentford win to nil at 11/5.
*All prices correct at the time of writing and subject to change
Brentford to win to nil - 11/5 (Betfair Sportsbook)