Ipswich vs MK Dons| Saturday 21st August 2021, 15:00
I like a goals angle here. Just looking at games so far, Ipswich have gone 2-2, 1-2 and 1-2 whilst MK Dons have seen 3-3, 1-2 and 2-1 results in their opening three fixtures. We can follow this small sample trend and back Over 2.5 Goals at 13/14 with SBK.
Ipswich started the season as joint-favorites. They have been excellent in spells but equally as poor in larger period of play too. Going forward Town have the pace through new signing Kyle Edwards to trouble any League One defence, and with the likes of Macauley Bonne, Joe Piggot and on-loan Aston Villa player Louie Barry, they have the quality to score plenty of goals.
It’s a little early for Ipswich fans to worry – a missed penalty against Burton would have probably seen them win and then a miss by Bonne at 1-0 against Cheltenham is up there as one of the worst of all-time – had that gone in, it would have put the game out of reach of the newly-promoted side (please watch it if you haven’t seen it).
It will take time to gel and with 16 new signings this is to be expected, but the balance of the side still doesn’t look right to me. The central midfield pairing look better going forward then sitting and protecting with manager Paul Cook encouraging the full backs to bomb on, thus exposing the central defence.
MK Dons won’t need any invitation here with a quality attacking line up with Troy Parrott, Mo Eisa and Mark Watters with Scott Twine playing just behind. This is another side that wont struggle for goals.
The visitors have hit the 4th highest number of shots so far in League One with 34 from open play – that’s just over 11 per-game with almost seven shots per-game coming from inside the box. However, from a defensive viewpoint only five sides have conceded more shots on-target and only four sides more shots in the box.
It is therefore no surprise to see that MK Dons sit 3rd for the highest xGA conceded in the three games and what is more concerning is that they are also trying to adapt to a new manager after Russell Martin left with Liam Manning joining last week.
This is probably not the best preparation to travel to Suffolk with the locals getting a little restless after huge pre-season optimism with the new owners splashing the cash. The pressure is on Cook with a record of W4-D8-L7 for the Tractor Boys.
Ipswich have created chances but have failed to take them and no side has conceded more goals in their three games. I don’t see Cook changing his preferred shape and we should see more of the same at Town again this weekend. This should be an open game with both sides happy to attack and both managers would probably concede that their teams strengthen are in the final third.
Forest Green vs Crawley | Saturday 21st August 2021, 15:00
Wins in the league over Sutton and Walsall, alongside a Carabao Cup victory on penalties over Bristol City, provided Forest Green with the perfect start to their campaign. It’s also been a dream start for new manager Rob Edwards, who seems to have had an instant impact on Rovers. The underlying data is also very strong for the hosts as I have them 2nd in the league based on xPTS and 3rd for shots in the box.
Ebou Adams in midfield and Jamille Matt up top will be key for Forest Green going forward with the duo already having three goals between them. On top of these two they have Matty Stevens as a second striker who has scored three goals in his opening two league games, after spending last season on-loan at Stevenage. They’ll be a strong threat going forward and Crawley’s defence will be put under pressure.
Crawley have only played two games this season and were awful in their opener, losing 1-0 to Hartlepool, failing to have a shot on-target with just two attempts all game. Manager John Yems called it “embarrassing and unacceptable”. They did beat Salford at home 2-1 but they lost the xG count 0.69 to 1.31, also losing both the shot count and shot on target count.
Salford took the lead and had chances to extend their superiority but were caught with a break away goal and then struggled to recover with Crawley scoring twice with their only two shots on-target.
My rankings show that Crawley have the 2nd lowest xPTS, have managed just two shots on target all season (the lowest in the league), the 2nd fewest shots in the box with one of the lowest touches in the box ratings.
Defensively, Crawley aren’t faring that badly so far, but its their lack of goal threat I think will cause them issues here. I can’t see Forest Green not finding a way onto the scoresheet and then you have to worry about the visitors' ability to find a way back into the game.
I don’t think this will be a high-scoring game. Crawley have conceded a xGA of 1.05 so far across their two games with Forest Green at 0.8 xGA. I think the host will win the game and we can take them at 13/15 to win the game, but I am happy to boost that to 6/5 with adding Under 4.5 Goals.
Crewe vs Accrington | Saturday 21st August 2021, 15:00
I think it will be a tough, long season for Crewe and they have struggled so far. They have started the season with W0-D1-L2 with defeats on the road to Portsmouth and Oxford with a point at home to newly-promoted Cheltenham. The point was a little fortunate with the Alex losing the xG 1.03 vs 0.51, the shot and shot on target count whilst scoring with their only attempt on target all game.
It is also worth noting that long throw expert Ben Tozer was only on the bench for the Cheltenham game and had he played it would have made a difference with his excellent set pieces, as Ipswich found out midweek.
I have Crewe bottom on xPTS with the fewest shots on target taken and the lowest xG with just 0.50 xG per game. At the other end of the pitch its not much better with the 4th highest xGA at 1.50 per game.
Crewe had to name one less sub on Tuesday night as a sickness bug ripped through the squad and manager David Artell has said in his press conference on Friday that he will still be without one of two players, and he was hoping that no one else would go down with it before the game. The few players that have returned, you would question how fit they will be given they had norovirus just a matter of days ago.
Accrington have started the season well with W2–DO-L1, with defeat coming at relegated Wycombe on the opening day. They were a little unlucky to lose that game, winning the xG 1.73 vs 1.67 with some terrible defending for the opening goal. Since that opening day defeat, they have steadied themselves.
The Reds now travel to Crewe looking to get their first League One points on the road after two successive home wins and a victory at Rotherham in the Carabao Cup prior to that. They have some good players for League One, although a small squad may hold them back.
Colby Bishop and Dion Charles do an excellent job up front running the channels, keeping the ball, making it hard for defenders. With Jon Pritchard, Harry Pell and Sean McConville providing the ball to the front two.
Manager John Coleman has spoken this week about the importance of collecting points on the road and not becoming a home team. I think he will set the team to firstly avoid defeat but then look to his players to break forward when they can. So far, he has set up with one defensive midfielder and two who are pushing on and getting forward, creating chances.
My rankings show Accrington to be 4th on xPTS generating 1.33 xG conceding 0.93 xGA per game with one of the lowest shots on target against records in the division.
The visitors have the confidence and momentum here and I think we should see them be strong enough to at least avoid defeat and we can back them on the Draw No Bet at 5/6 meaning if the game is a draw we will get our stake back, only losing if Crewe claim victory.