ANOTHER profitable Football League night for Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) on Tuesday. Here he shares his favourite fancies from Wednesday evening.
Newcastle v Norwich | Wednesday 19.45
Bristol City boss Lee Johnson reckons Norwich are the best side the Robins have faced this season – and City have played all three relegated teams.
It’s a glowing reference for the Canaries who’ve churned out five successive wins since an abject defeat at Birmingham before the last international break. Alex Neill’s men climbed to the Championship summit at the weekend and can return to the peak with three points at St James’ Park.
However, despite defeats to both Huddersfield and Wolves as hosts, I’m not investing in a Norwich win on Wednesday night. Instead, I’ll be backing Norfolk’s finest with a +0.50 Asian Handicap start at 5/6 (BetVictor)– we’ll be paid out should they avoid defeat.
Neill has an almost fully fit squad to select from with Alex Tettey back in contention and the visitors have scored at least twice in each of their past four league outings. It should also be noted, within those quadruple Championship triumphs, City also dumped Everton out of the EFL Cup with a 2-0 success at Goodison Park.
Wednesday night’s showdown pits together the two highest-ranked second-tier sides based on my performance data and whilst the head-to-head trends – Newcastle have won seven of the previous eight meetings, including each of the past four on Tyneside – suggest Toon should flourish, I’m yet to be totally won over by the Magpies.
Of course, they obliterated QPR at Loftus Road only 10 days ago but on Saturday they failed to impress for 90 minutes at Aston Villa. Having missed a host of chances, Rafa Benitez’s boys’ crumbled and almost went on to lose the game.
Sure, the home side have afforded their opponents a league-low 25 shots on target this season – a league-high – but interestingly, only four of the 12 teams promoted since 2012 have done it with more than the two home defeats and the Magpies have already suffered the same quota after four matches.
Dutch destroyer Vernon Anita remains suspended and in the 17 games he’s missed since the start of last season, United have kept a solitary clean sheet and I’m just not at all sold by the 23/20 quotes on a home win here.
Coventry v AFC Wimbledon | Wednesday 19.45
Coventry are sitting rock-bottom of League One having made their worst start in 96 years (W0-D5-L4) and posting a shot conversion rate of just 3.70%.
With Sky Blues supporters still protesting against the club owners, the atmosphere around the Ricoh is pretty toxic and so Tony Mowbray’s men can be opposed on Wednesday night against Wimbledon.
Coventry have scored just four goals in nine outings and although they’ve shipped just 10, City have drawn all four of their home league encounters 0-0, 0-0, 0-0 and 1-1. Their record at the Ricoh under Mowbray is a reasonable W13-D12-L9 but it’s hard to ignore their current struggles.
Local media are reporting the club’s future is in the balance and with the hosts having recorded eight draws in their last 11 when welcoming promoted sides, I’m more than happy to oppose the Sky Blues here.
Wimbledon opened their 2016/17 with four defeats from four but W2-D3-L1 in their following six suggests Neil Ardley’s men are good enough to compete at this level.
The Wombles’ only reverse in that sample came at in-form Sheffield United and not since the opening day have AFC lost by more than a solitary strike.
The guests are ranking in mid to top-half of my performance data stats and with Cov languishing amongst the same parameters, it makes sense to side with Wimbledon here.
The odd 67/67 (BetVictor) price of Wimbledon +0.25 in the Asian Handicap market would see us collect winnings should the Dons avoid defeat. We’ll see a half-stakes profit should the game end all-square and a full-stakes win earned if the visitors pick up maximum points.
I’m also having a small stab at the 16/5 (BetStars) available for a draw and Under 2.5 Goals. I’ve already touched on Coventry’s four home results and 19/34 (56%) home league games under Mowbray have fallen below the 2.5 goals line.
The Wombles have seen two of their last three away days feature fewer than three goals with three of their first nine also proving profitable in this market. And collectively, this bet would have won in 8/18 (44%) games this season.