Football League Betting Preview & Tips: Canaries continue to fly high


FOOTBALL LEAGUE fan Matthew Kirby (@M_Kirby95oversees Tuesday night's EFL action, picking out his favourite fancy. 

Norwich vs QPR | Tuesday 29th December 2020, 19:45  

Championship league leaders Norwich welcome beleaguered QPR to Carrow Road, as they look to extend the gap to the chasing pack. The Canaries slipped to their second defeat of the month at Watford on Boxing Day, losing 1-0, and seeing some resolute home defending shutting them out. But Daniel Farke will take positives from that despite the outcome.

At Carrow Road this season, Norwich have a record of P10, W6, D3, L1, with that defeat being a smash-and-grab from Derby in October. They beat Cardiff here before Christmas 2-0 in a game that should have been so much more comfortable with the hosts wasteful in front of goal.

QPR make the trip east sitting four points above the relegation zone and are deep in the mire. It’s no win in eight since they beat Rotherham 3-2 at Loftus Road in November. Mark Warburton’s side went down 2-0 on Boxing Day to Swansea, who themselves climbed to second. The R’s forced Freddie Woodman into just one save and, for me, they look like a side that lacks goals and creativity.

A lot of the attacking threat rests on the shoulders of Bright Osayi-Samuel with Lyndon Dyke being asked to score goals from limited chances. And when you have the defensive record they do, then they need to be creating more to give themselves a chance of winning.

Only Preston and Wycombe have conceded more goals than QPR (29) this season. Break that down and 16 of the 29 have come in away games, so this Norwich front line will be licking their lips.

Farke has a quality array of attacking options in Teemu Pukki, Emi Buendía, Todd Cantwell and Mario Vrancic. It’s no wonder they average an expected goals for (xGF) of 1.59 in games here at Carrow Road.

If you take a look at QPR’s Expected Goals (xG) data, then it looks bleak. A higher xG against (1.24xGA) than for (0.89xGF) sums up their performances this season.

WeLoveBetting head honcho Mark O’Haire always puts out some useful data and that was the case yesterday. The performance data from across the leagues is always worth a look.

Norwich are averaging around nine shots in the box per game, so if they do that against this defence, you’d imagine they’ll grab a couple of goals. QPR, in contrast, allow more shots inside their box (7.19) than they take in the opposition box (6.81).

The Canaries are short enough to pick up the three points, but we can boost that price be adding Under 4 Goals goals into the mix for a more appealing 7/5 bet. All six of Norwich’s home wins this season have seen three or fewer goals. The hosts are yet to put three past an opponent on home soil this season, so I’d imagine they’d get this done with the minimum of fuss.

QPR very rarely get blown away in games – seven of their nine defeats have seen fewer than four goals. So, with that in mind, back the hosts, who should have too much quality in the final third.

Shrewsbury vs Blackpool | Tuesday 29th December 2020, 19:45

 There’s been an upturn in Shrewsbury’s fortunes since Steve Cotterill took over from Sam Ricketts. It’s just one defeat in eight in all competitions following the Boxing Day draw at Wigan.

In the league, they are unbeaten since the 56-year-old took over, with a record of P6, W3, D3. But since the 2-2 draw in his first game in charge, goals have been somewhat hard to come by with the next five seeing seven (five scored, two conceded).

The more impressive factor in those results is who they’ve been against. Their three wins were all away against sides currently occupying top-four places in Hull, Lincoln and Doncaster, so Blackpool might find it tough to break down the Shrews defence.

In fact, three of Blackpool’s last four games in all comps have finished 0-0 after the stalemate with Accrington Stanley before Christmas. But with their Boxing Day fixture postponed, they make this trip the fresher of the two sides.

It’s just one defeat in their last nine since Halloween, including six wins, which have seen them climb the table and look more like the play-off candidates many expected them to be.

With Shrewsbury recent tightening up and six of Blackpool’s nine away games seeing under 2.5 goals, then that looks like an angle into this one. Look at the head-to-head data and you’ll see some boring games between these two – their last six meetings have seen just four goals scored, with three goalless draws.

However, I’m willing to take a cards angle in this one with Neil Hair the man in the middle. He’s taken charge of 15 games this season resulting in 62 yellows and one red.

Perhaps fittingly for the time of the year, he’s been dishing them out to a high number. His three games this month have seen 16 yellows and one red – a Booking Points total of 185, an average of 62 Booking Points per game. Nine of his last 12 matches have seen at least 40 Booking Points, including the six he showed on Saturday in Southend’s win over Colchester in League Two.

This will be the officials fifth League One match this season. So far, he’s averaging 29.5 fouls and 3.75 yellows per game. That’s quite a high foul count, so he’s not one for too much contact.

Shrewsbury ranks fourth for yellow cards this season (37), while they’ve also seen two reds. Blackpool have seen just 24 yellows, which is one of the lowest figures in the league, but they’ve picked up the most reds – four.

If you look at the Shrews last four home games, then those games have had 60, 40, 50 and 60 Booking Points, with the hosts averaging 30 Booking Points per game across those matches.

Shrewsbury are 4/5 for 20+ Booking Point with Sky Bet, and that looks a good price – it’s won in six of their eight home league matches. Overall, both of these sides average around 14 tackles per game, and it’s the same number for fouls averaged per game for both sides. So, if you imagine 28 fouls in this one with a card-happy official, then that 40 mark should be met.

Newport v Exeter | Tuesday 29th December 2020, 19:00 

This League Two clash is one of the more fascinating games in the Football League today, as top of the table Newport entertain Exeter.

The Exiles have somewhat stuttered in recent weeks failing to win any of their last four (D2, L2), and the concerning thing might be that they led in three of those games before dropping points.

One thing that can be said for Michael Flynn’s side is that they’re strong at home – P9, W7, D1, L1. Although, that loss did come in their last home game. They were leading 2-1 at the break against Oldham before the visitors scored three in the second half without reply.

Exeter came from behind to earn a point on Boxing Day to earn a 1-1 draw at home to Forest Green Rovers – their first game in 11 days.

Matt Taylor’s side are the league’s top scorers with 40 goals, so you can expect them to trouble this Newport side that hasn’t been as solid in recent games. The Grecians have conceded 26 goals, 16 of which have come in away games, but despite that they’ve only slipped to one away defeat – P9, W2, D6, L1.

Both teams have scored in eight of their nine away games, while in seven of those nine, both sides have found the net in the first half, so they could come flying out of the traps.

The numbers are similar for Newport as well. Seven of their nine home games have seen BTTS, while five of nine have seen it land in the first half. The fact you can get 10/3 with both Bet365 and Sky Bet for BTTS copping before the break looks enticing.

As you’d imagine, Exeter top of the scoring charts with Newport joint-third (31), which makes goals the key play into this game. That BTTS in the first half (10/3) looks like a play on the numbers above. But for those looking for a safer angle, then BTTS and over 2.5 goals at an odds-against price is the way to go.

It’s 11/10 on Sky Bet. I was expecting to see this slightly shorter given their rankings for goals. Add in that Newport average 15.4 and Exeter average 13.5 shots per game gives you the impression this could be a bit like a basketball match.

If you agree with the above, then you might like the look at the odds-against quotes on Newport 2+ goals (5/4) and Exeter 2+ goals (11/8) – prices both with Sky Bet.

Newport have bagged 2+ in seven of nine here at Rodney Parade, while Exeter have scored 2+ in seven of nine on their travels too – 18 in total. Goals the play in for me!

Best Bets 

Norwich vs QPR – Norwich to win and Under 4 Goals (7/5 Bet365)

Shrewsbury vs Blackpool: 40+ Booking Points (1/1 SkyBet)

Newport vs Exeter: Both Teams To Score and Over 2.5 Goals (11/10 SkyBet)

Newport vs Exeter – Both Teams To Score in the First-Half (10/3 Bet365) 

About Author

Matt is a graduate in sports journalism and is currently plying his trade as a content editor for a major betting company. He was bitten by the betting bug when backing horses and continues to do so. His main sporting interests are football, horse racing and darts. Matt is a Stoke season ticket holder and enjoys going to gigs.

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