CHAMPIONSHIP fan Matthew Kirby (@M_Kirby95) oversees Friday night's action from the second-tier as Derby take on Stoke at Pride Park, picking out his best bets.
Derby v Stoke | Friday 31st January 2020, 19:45 | Sky Sports
Stoke’s resurgence under Michael O’Neill continued with a 2-0 win over play-off chasing Swansea making it four unbeaten in the league.
Since the Northern Irishman took over, Stoke have picked up 23 points. If the league table started then, they would be fifth showing the success he’s had at the club.
After failing to have a shot on target in their FA Cup tie against League Two outfit Northampton seven days ago, Derby were involved in an eventful game at Luton on Tuesday. Five goals in the last 30 minutes, although a 3-2 defeat, Wayne Rooney’s first for the club and time for Max Lowe seeing red for ‘foul and abusive language’ aimed at referee Andy Davies after he adjudged Ben Hamer handled a back pass.
The Rams have been a bit Jekyll and Hyde. Eight of their wins this season have come here at Pride Park, and they’ve even managed to keep clean sheets in five of them.
Tight and cagey
Just the other week, Stoke were on Sky and they put in a steely defensive display to shutout then league leaders West Brom. It was a gritty, determined performance after going 1-0 up early on.
Saturday’s clean sheet against the Swans meant it is three on the bounce without conceding something that Jack Butland has spoke about wanting to continue. Danny Batth and Liam Lindsay are forming a strong partnership. Anything in the air, they can deal with, but anything in behind them, they struggle.
While Stoke have improved in recent weeks, Derby have been strong in front of their home faithful this season. Only Preston (32) have picked up more points in home games than Philip Cocu’s side this season (29). After a slow start here, they’ve won eight of their last 11 showing they’re getting to grips with Cocu’s style of play.
Of their eight home wins, six have been by one goal and with Stoke keeping three clean sheets in a row then this looks likely to a low-scoring, close game.
The betting angles
Following that path, I’m looking at the second-half seeing the most goals at an odds-against price. 62% of goals in Stoke away games this season have come after half-time, while as stated above, this has landed in Derby’s last seven, so that looks like a strong place to start.
There were two player angles, one standing out more than the other. The one to take is a card for Liam Lindsay. The centre half has grown into his role in the side since getting game time under O’Neill but is still rather clumsy.
Lindsay has collected five cards with three in his last four. He was very lucky not to see a card on Saturday when he tried to handle the ball to stop a Swansea attack – the ref played on and didn’t go back and revisit the incident.
When he commits a foul, it usually is a cynical one that halts an opposition attack. There’s a chance he could get dragged out into the full-back area and it’s his mobility in those areas that could leave him exposed and vulnerable to a card. He’s 11/4 across the board to get a card from referee Robert Jones. Given Lindsay struggled against Derby in the reverse fixture then that’s the option to take.
I did look in the shots markets. The bar for Martyn Waghorn is set high enough, as is the one set for Tom Lawrence. The Rams do average around 10 shots per-game, but the odds seem short.
Sam Clucas is Stoke’s top scorer netted once more at the weekend. Even though he’s playing a slightly deeper role under O’Neill, he’s still recorded 23 shots in that time. In five of the Potters’ last seven away games, Clucas has recorded 2+ shots, including at fourth-placed Fulham, 13th-placed Hull and 17th-placed Middlesbrough.
His late runs in the box can suit pullbacks from the likes of James McClean and Tom Ince, while Nick Powell’s clever play can also seem him found. It’s 11/8 on Sky Bet for 2+ shots from Clucas, which does appeal considering it’s only EVS with Betfair. If you like him for a goal then look at William Hill’s Enhanced Odds – he’s 6/1 with them to score anytime.
I, along with the bookies, are struggling to find a way to separate the two sides in the outright market, so these two angles look the way to go.
Derby v Stoke – Second Half Highest Scoring (6/5 Paddy Power)
Derby v Stoke – Liam Lindsay to be carded (11/4 Sky Bet)