Bournemouth vs Luton | Saturday 25th September 2021, 15:00
Scott Parker has the Cherries sitting top of the table and I am taking this game to have goals. I know many will look at this and immediately ask why I am backing goals in a game which is top of the table vs Luton in 13th, but despite Bournemouth having a record of W5-D3-L0 their home form isn’t that great and their home xGA of just 0.84 so far this season is misleading.
All four home games have seen Over 2.5 Goals and they have conceded in three. Their xGA at home is being pulled down due to the game against Barnsley where they conceded just 0.06 xGA, where in the other games they conceded 1.46, 2,26 and 1.28
Goals are generally on the cards and at home they have seen an average of 3.5 match goals per game, scoring 2.25 and conceding 1.25. Attacking they look impressive as they sit 3rd in the table for shots on target from inside the box with a decent xG of 1.34. However, at the back its not so clever. Only Hull and Blackpool have conceded more shots on target from inside the box than the Cherries.
They have some great attacking talent in Dominic Solanke, Jamal Lowe, Jaidon Anthony, David Brooks, Ryan Christie and Morgan Rodgers, yet full back Jordan Zemura likes to get forward as does Philip Billing which does leave the defensive exposed teams.
Manager Scott Parker is still adjusting to the squad whilst the players are still finding their feet to a new style and tactics which in my view is causing a few defensive issues.
Luton are ticking along nicely and, on the road, and they have W1-D2-L1 but scored in every game and conceded in three of the four with the only clean sheet coming at Barnsley. Games on the road have featured goals with an average of 3.00 per game
I like the mix of experience and talent in the squad with Henri Lansbury alongside the likes of Luke Berry, Harry Cornick, Eijan Adebayo, Mendes Gomes and the excellent named Admiral Muskwe. They have attacking options and we have now seen five of their last seven away games go over 2.5 and I see no reason why this won’t follow suit.
The Hatters have the 3rd best xG in the league from their away games, 6th for goals scored and 8th for shots on target. I believe this side is being overlooked. Defensively its not great with just nice clean sheets in their last 34 games with shut outs coming to Barnsley this term, but Preston, Forest, Birmingham, and Coventry all season, with their teams struggling last year.
Last season they kept just two clean sheets when visiting the top half sides away whilst conceding an average of a goal a game since manager Nathan Jones returned.
In conclusion I feel that both sides will find the net, but the hosts will have two much here and could easily score three goals themselves.
Over 2.5 Goals is 10/11 with Bet365.
Scunthorpe vs Port Vale | Saturday 25th September 2021, 15:00
The hosts look in real trouble. My rankings see this as one of the biggest mismatch of the weekend with the visitors looking strong away and the hosts looking in real desperate trouble.
I have the hosts down in 19th place on xPTS and then in the bottom four for all my other main metrics. At home its now better with the Irons conceding the most shots and shots on target, goals and at the other end struggling to create much with a xG of just 0.92, the 2nd fewest shots taken, 4th fewest shots on target and only five sides having fewer shots in the box. Its grim.
Captain Harry Davies and forward Ryan Loft are still missing and its unlikely if Lewis Thompson will be fit enough to start so the squad is a little short on experience, this is on top of Harry Bun and Alex Kenyon have both hardly featured this season due to injury, so manager Neil Cox has a few issues to deal with.
Cox has been trying to tell the local media how good the team was last week as they conceded a later goal to draw 2-2 to Carlisle, but in honesty neither side deserved to win the match that had little quality or real goal threat. I think the fact that they were 2-0 up at half time and failed to win will be a bitter blow and impact their confidence further. When you are struggling to win games and then let a lead slip in that fashion it can have a big hit on confidence.
So far this season they have returned W1-D4-L3, and I think this will be a long hard season for them.
Vale look to be heading in the right direction. They started the season slowly with just three points from their opening four games but three wins from their last four has pushed them up to 7th position. You could argue they were a little unlucky with their opening games and so far, this season they have only lost the xG battle once from their eight games.
My rankings have them as the 2nd best away side in the division. No side has had more shots on target whilst at the other end they have the 3rd best xGA with just 0.80 with no side allowing fewer shots in the box. Overall, I have them 3rd on xPTS and 5th on xG ratio.
Manager Darrell Clarke has spoken this week about putting together a run of wins to further push them up the league table and whilst talking about momentum that wins give the team has been very respectful to Scunthorpe acknowledging that this will be a hard game. I don’t think they will underestimate them on Saturday and will be focused on the job at hand.
James Wilson, who was once highly thought of coming through the Man Utd ranks alongside Jamie Proctor and David Worrall will look to cause the problems for the hosts and the Vale squad looks strong this year. I think there is every chance that these two clubs could both leave League Two this year in different directions.
Port Vale to win at 10/11 with Betway.
Plymouth vs Doncaster | Saturday 25th September 2021, 15:00
We are heading down to the south coast of Devon for this bet, and I am going to take Plymouth to beat a poor Doncaster side. I believe that Plymouth are still a little underrated by the bookies and we can take them to win here at 10/11 with William Hill whilst other bookies have them as short at 3/4 to win the game.
Plymouth sit 4th in League One. They lost the opening game of the season at Rotherham but since then are undefeated winning four and drawing three. At home its now W2-D2-L0 conceding just two goals. Had Portsmouth not claimed a dramatic equaliser midweek in a 2-2 draw and had that not happen, Plymouth who have been top.
Manager Ryan Lowe has commented that all his players are going through a purple patch and whilst one of two players will get the headlines the results and performances have been about the team ethic. The players are running further, retaining the ball, winning aerial duals, or passing forward than many of their counterparts and the results are now starting to show.
Striker Ryan Hardie is the leagues top scorer with six goals and with Luke Jephcott finding the net again they have a couple of strikers that have some quality. James Wilson signed from Ipswich has been excellent at the heart of defence and Lowe has them a playing well with the players understanding their roles within the team.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Doncaster. My rankings have them as the worst team in the division and bottom of almost every metric. With just a 0.40 xG you are always going to struggle to win games.
So far this season they have just four points with a record of W1-D1-L5, failing to score in 50% of their games whilst conceding. Away its now W0-D0-L4 finding the net just once and conceding on average 1.75 goals per game.
The squad will have plenty of time to contemplate their poor start to the season with a five-hour coach trip down to Devon. Rovers have failed to generate a non-penalty xG higher than 0.45 in any away game so far this season whilst only managing an average of 1.5 shots on target per game.
Their only points of the season have come at home – They drew 0-0 with Portsmouth despite losing the xG 1.62 vs 0.53 and the game they won was over promoted Morecambe, who are finding life hard after a decent start to the season, but even in that game they lost the xG 1.02 vs 1.62, with the winning goal coming from a set piece.
I am a little surprised by the odds available on Plymouth and I can only assume that their underlying metrics currently aren’t as good as their league position, but they keep winning games and defend well, and they play a side devoid of confidence and have shocking underlying performance.
Plymouth to win at 10/11 with William Hill.
Bournemouth vs Luton – Over 2.5 Goals (10/11 Bet365)
Scunthorpe vs Port Vale – Port Vale to win (10/11 Betway)
Plymouth vs Doncaster – Plymouth to win (10/11 William Hill)