MARK Stinchcombe (@markstinchcombe) picks out his best bets for Thursday’s World Cup qualifiers.
Armenia v Poland | Thursday 5th October 2017, 17:00 | Sky Sports
Poland head into their clash away to Armenia looking to cement their position at the top of Group E with just two games to go ahead of Russia next summer.
Just 2/7, the Poles are only three points clear of Montenegro and Denmark who meet later Thursday evening.
After reaching a nation high of qualifying for the Euro 2012 play-offs, Armenia have slumped in recent years but have recovered from zero wins in their last qualifying campaign to two so far in this, as their ability levels out.
Poland look a short price here in Yerevan, in what seems to be priced on their attacking output against Armenia’s dire defence.
They’re a difficult team to read Armenia, having only suffered a 2-1 defeat in the reverse fixture, yet suffering a 5-0 loss to goal shy Romania and 4-1 defeats to both Montenegro and Denmark.
However, with Armenia’s expected goals chalked up at 0.65, they look to be a little underrated, especially with a Polish defence who’ve only the 4th best defensive record in the group.
Last time out away from home, they shipped four at Denmark and that doesn’t even begin to tell the tale. With their awesome attack they often leave themselves exposed leading them to have conceded to both Gibralter and San Marino over the last few years!
To put that into some sort of perspective, that goal is only the fourth San Marino have scored in their last five years.
So we know Poland are vulnerable, but also that Armenia are inconsistent, so rather than backing them to score at around Evens, I’d much rather focus on the magician that runs their side.
Henrikh Mhitaryan is a genius, an absolute genius. He’s well known to the public now playing for Manchester United, but he performs just as well for his country despite surrounded by much lesser players.
Playing between the lines, he’ll look to take advantage of the space afforded to him by the Polish midfield. His record sits at 29 goals in 66 caps at all levels, including 13 in his last 28 dating back the last four years.
His list of victims includes the likes of Germany and Italy to show his prowess, and he is a massive price at 5/1 to score anytime.
Montenegro v Denmark |Thursday 5th October 2017, 19:45 | Sky Sports
As already mentioned, later on in Group E Montenegro host Denmark in what is a huge match with both sides locked on 16 points in 2nd and 3rd respectively with just two games to go.
Montenegro travel to Poland in their final game, with the Danes hosting Romania, and with the former in mind, I don’t envisage the home side sitting back with three points all but securing a play-off spot against the 6/5 Danish faves.
The bedrock of both these sides successes has been their attacks with both plundering 18 goals in their eight games so far. Stevan Jovetic has rediscovered his ability after a tough time with injuries, and Fatos Beciraj has re-found his scoring boots to form an impressive partnership for Montenegro.
Backed up by newcomer in the international scene in playmaker Damir Kojasevic, they’ve been causing their opponents hosts of problems.
Denmark are another side on the up, showcased by scoring four goals in back-to-back games, including against group leaders Poland. I’ve been impressed by their team data and they’re producing an exciting team, especially going forward.
Christian Eriksen is pulling the strings in midfield and they have a wealth of options in the front three. Ajax’s Kasper Dolberg scored 23 goals last season, Andreas Cornelius (remember him Cardiff fans?) earned himself a move to the impressive Atalanta and Pione Sisto who seems to be getting better and better at Celta Vigo, has already equalled last seasons goal tally.
Throw in Yussuf Poulsen, Viktor Fischer, Lasse Schone and of course Nicklas Bendtner (who has a very good international record) and they look a big threat.
Essentially I like the look of goals here, especially with a goal line of just 2.25. 12 of the home sides last 20 games have seen over 2.5 goals (60%), including six of their last nine in Podgorica.
12 of the Danes last 18 have seen over 2.5 (67%) and the beauty here is just two goals still sees half our stake back. This is a huge match with so much on the line, and hopefully the goals flow.