English Championship Playoffs: Luton Town vs. Sunderland & Middlesbrough vs. Coventry City Previews

English Championship Playoffs: Luton Town vs. Sunderland & Middlesbrough vs. Coventry City Previews article feature image

Photo by George Wood/Getty Images. Pictured: Luton Town celebrates.

After a chaotic first leg in Sunderland that saw the Black Cats take a 2-1 advantage and goalless draw in Coventry, we have two fantastic second leg ties coming up this week to decide who goes to Wembley.

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English Championship


Luton Town vs. Sunderland

Luton Town Odds+105
Sunderland Odds+250
Over/Under2.5 (+105 / -140)
Day | TimeTuesday | 3 p.m. ET
How To WatchESPN+
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

Sunderland had a first-leg advantage, but they were not the better side in the first leg. Luton Town took an early advantage 11 minutes in by creating a big scoring chance; Sunderland was able to score a low quality shot from outside the box from Amad Diallo before Trai Hume put a header in the back of the net from nine yards away.

Final xG ended up being Sunder 0.5 to Luton Town 0.9. It was pretty evident that Luton Town's 3-5-2 low block was effective defending throughout the match.

image via fbref.com.

Now the pressure is on Sunderland to defend a one-goal lead without their three main centerbacks. Sunderland has been a very average defense by Championship standards this season, ranking 10th in expected goals allowed.

Luton Town will have to keep its front foot on the gas trying to get back in this tie. Luton is the best pressing team in the Championship, ranking first in high turnovers and PPDA. That means Sunderland probably isn't going to try and play out of the back and will likely concede a lot of possession to Luton Town, which is not a spot they're comfortable in, though they have been successful against smaller sides in the Championship.

Overall for the season, Luton Town has been much better than Sunderland, putting up +0.31 xGD compared to Sunderland at +0.13.

I had Luton Town projected as a slight favorite going into the first leg. Based on the final xG, I see no reason to not back them as a short favorite here.

I have Luton Town projected at -146, so I like the value on them at +105 (PointsBet).

Pick: Luton Town +105

Middlesbrough vs Coventry City

Middlesbrough Odds-110
Coventry City Odds+300
Over/Under2.5 (-120 / -110)
Day | TimeWednesday | 3 p.m. ET
How To WatchESPN+
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

The first leg was a cagey affair with not a whole lot happening, which is pretty much how every match between these two plays out.

Both meetings during the regular season played out to each team creating 0.7 xG. In the first leg, Middlesbrough unsurprisingly held 60% possession and were mainly trying to build out of the back. Coventry City was happy to sit in their 5-3-2 out of possession to absorb pressure and try to be dangerous on the counter.

Coventry did end up getting 11 shots off, but none of them hit the target and they only ended up creating 0.5 xG. Coventry did a good job defensively, defending in and around their penalty area because Middlesbrough had a whopping 13 box entries, but were only able to create 0.9 xG.

Once again, Middlesbrough will be the ones controlling a lot of the possession, but they've failed in all three meetings with Coventry City to create over one expected goal. It's really hard for me to lay it here with them as a -110 favorite given they haven't proven their ability to break down Coventry's low block.

I have the moneyline and total projected pretty close to what the market has it at, so I will have to pass.

Pick: Pass

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