Football League Betting Preview & Tips: Canaries to fly high


FOOTBALL LEAGUE fan James Potter (@thebettingdeskoversees Wednesday night's EFL action, picking out his favourite fancies. 

Nottingham Forest vs Norwich | Wednesday 17th March 2021, 19:00 | Sky Sports

Norwich appears relentless in their pursuit of an automatic return to the Premier League. At the current rate they will end up with 100 points and could post the highest points total since Leicester in 2013/14 and the third-highest points total in the last 10 seasons. This is a very good team.

They are the only team to be posting a PPG total at over 2.0, winning their last eight whilst conceding in just three of these games. (this is tough writing for an Ipswich fan).

Once they adapted to life back in the Championship where they lost two of their opening four games, they haven’t really looked back with a record of W24-D5-L3 with two of these three defeats coming on the road to Watford and Swansea However, in this game they were without Byram, Dowell, Hernandez, Hugill, Krul, McLean, Pukki, Cantwell, Vrancic and Rupp. I expect the last seven to play a part on Wednesday night.

From a ratings perspective I have Norwich as the second best away side in the division, second on away expected points and top on points per away game. Their underlying metrics are impressive – highest xG at 1.55, no side scores more away goals with an average of 1.47, no side has more shot or shots in the box, and they sit second for shots on target.

The Canaries have an away record of W12-D2-L4 and scored in 14 and 1.5+ team goals in 10. Outside the top seven teams it’s a record of W11-D1-L1 on the road.

Forest are all but mathematical clear of relegation but their record against side in the top half this season is shocking. W1-D6-L12 – the only win was at home to Millwall where despite scoring three, they only generated a xG of 1.04. Over these 19 games they have kept just three clean sheets.

Forest 13th in my home rankings and on expected points, but as low as 18th on points per home game. I also have them 20th for shots on target and shots in the box ratio. Not great reading for a side that at the start of the season had an eye on promotion.

However, they have managed to achieve home draws with Watford, Barnsley and Bournemouth this season, so I don’t think Norwich will have this all their own way, if Forest decide they want to play.

I am going to take Norwich to score given the statistics mentioned above. I am then going to add Norwich over three corners.

Forest are conceding an average of 4.89 per home match. Only five sides have failed to hit four corners when visiting the City Ground this season – Cardiff, Blackburn, Luton, Birmingham and Sheff Wed. Norwich have it four or more in 14 of 18 away games this season, with an average of 4.89. Brentford, Swansea, Blackburn and Birmingham.

The referee is Leigh Doughty, and he is reasonable for cards with an average of 3.77 per Championship game. Over his 13 Championship games this season has had awarded the home side at least one card on all 13 occasions and delivered at least two match cards in all 13 games, so very consistent.

Forest have picked up an average of 1.5 cards under Houghton and since he took over, they have seen a match average of 2.95 cards per game. At home this increases to 1.69 and 3.13 per game. They have collected at least one card in 13 of 16 home games and seen at least two cards 12 of 16 games.

Norwich have seen their hosts booked in 15 of their 18 away games with an average of 1.56. Their away games average 3.22 – 15 of 18 games have seen at least two cards in their away matches.
I am going to add over 1 match cards and over 0 Forest cards.

Norwich Over 0 Goals, Norwich Over 3 Corners, Forest Over 0 Cards and Over 1 Match Cards at 21/20 with Bet365 is the play.

Wycombe vs Barnsley | Wednesday 17th March 2021, 19:00 | Sky Sports

Barnsley are probably the in-form team in the Championship right now when you consider the opposition that they have beaten recently. Sometimes a change of manager, especially when its not forced by the manager underperforming can have a negative impact at a club.

Gerhard Struber left the club to take over at MLS side New York Red Bulls and the Tykes appointed Ismael and it seems to be a match that has almost immediately clicked.

He wants his sides to be ambitious and play with intensity and both club and manager want to play the same way. They both want to develop young players, and both have the same philosophy on football which is now being seen on the pitch.

The visitors are now undefeated in 11 games, winning eight defeating side such as Brentford, Bournemouth and Stoke. Even of the course of the season I have them as the 6th best away side in the league and 8th on expected away points, alongside being 6th on away points per game. We shouldn’t be surprised that they are doing so well.

Barnsley sit 3rd for shots in the box ratio, 2nd for touches in the box ratio and 9th for xG ratio. Only four sides have a better away xG and they are 7th for goals scored away whilst just three sides have more shots and 7th sides manage more shots on target and shots in the box.

At the other end the are 2nd for the fewest shots conceded and over the last eight games they have the 3rd lowest xG and 3rd fewest shots in the box conceded.

No one expected Wycombe to stay up and that’s looking very likely. They are nine points from safety and when you consider that Sheffield Wednesday started in minus six points they have collected six points fewer than any other team in the league.

Across the season they have a record of W6-D8-L22 and at home its W4-D5-L9 scoring just 11 goals. They have only scored more than one goal once at home this season and only five teams all season and one of those was in a 7-2 defeat at Brentford.

Victories have been against Preston (16th) Huddersfield (18th) Birmingham (21st) Sheff Wednesday (23rd) Cardiff (9th, but before their change of manager and upturn in form) and Reading (5th who missed a penalty when trailing 1-0 which could have change the game) They lost the xG in both games to Cardiff and Reading The games against the Royals they lost the shot count 15-5.

Recent form I have Wycombe as 23rd, 22nd and 22nd over four, eight and 12 games respectively. Over the course of the season, I have them down in 22nd place for the home performances, 20th for expected points and 22nd for home points per game.

No side concedes more shots, shots on target or shots in the box in their home matches and at the other end no side scores fewer goals and just three sides have fewer shots on target. Its grim reading.

In basic terms this is the 6th best away side vs the 23rd best home side. I really can’t understand the odds. Barnsley win and Under 4.5 Goals is evens with Paddy.

The hosts have seen just 33% of games go over 2.5 goals at home with just 6% over 3.5. Their home matches average just 1.78 goals. Barnsley have seen just 6% hit the over 4.5 goal barrier this term with 6 of the last 11 games failing to see more than 3 goals.

Barnsley should have enough to edge a tight game here. Wycombe struggle to score goals and even if they do find the net, I can’t see Barnsley hitting 4 which no side has done since April 2018 to Wycombe on their own patch.

Grimsby vs Tranmere | Wednesday 17th March 2021, 19:00

Grimsby are struggling. I wrote a few weeks ago about how bad Paul Hurst has been and it’s not getting any better. Since Tranmere beat them 5-0 back in November is now W3-D5-L14, that’s just 14 points from a possible 66 available, or 0.21 points per-game.

Their 14 points have come from a double over Crawley, although they lost the xG in one of those games 2.07 vs 0.59, a 1-0 win over Scunthorpe with a xG of just 0.33 and then draws against Colchester who sit 20th, Grimsby (24th), Southend (23rd) and Mansfield (16th).

The xG at home over the last 10 home games reads: 0.49, 0.31, 0.36, 0.59, 0.75, 0.03, 1.16, 0.53, 0.33 and 0.7. Its not surprising to see that they have scored just five goals over these seven games. Across the last 11 league games its now just six goals.

A quick look at the underlying home metrics its very poor. 0.61 xG with just one side having a lower xG. No side has a higher xGA and they concede an average of 1.4 goals, with just three sides conceding more. No side has fewer shots or shots on target.

My rankings have them 23rd at home and then 24th for expected points and 23rd for points per home game. Recent form has them 24th for the most recent four, eight and twelve games.

With just a 31% expected goal ratio you can see quickly why they are struggling. Manager Paul Hurst is trying to talk up how being the underdog is going to help his players get a result, but he has tried almost every cliché in the book, but nothing is working.

Tranmere have been on a role. Last 14 games their record is W9-D3-L2 – Both defeats have been at home and their away record over these games has been W4-D2-L0 beating Orient, Carlisle, Morecambe and Southend. Their record on the road vs bottom half sides is W5-D3-L0.

Over the course of the season, I still have them as the 11th best away side in the division and that’s despite a very poor start. However, the now sit 3rd for away points per game. If we look at a league table based on the last 10 games, Tranmere would be 2nd only to Cambridge with 20 points from 10 games. Grimsby would be bottom with just five points.

They held their own in the Papa John’s Trophy final against League One promotion hopefuls Sunderland at the weekend. Tranmere boss, Keith Hill said “We have to carry that performance level and a little bit of hurt, from today into the remaining 13 league games, because our priority has been the league,” he continued.

“We want to play League One football next season. We want to prove that the performance levels against Sunderland, Oxford and Peterborough weren't single games in isolation three times.”

I think the manner of defeat will help the team and we should see a decent performance from them on Wednesday night.

The visitors are 5th just five points off the top and they will see this match as must win if they are maintain their promotion push with both Bolton and Newport level on points with a further Morecambe just a further point back. Tranmere have some real quality and experience leading the line with David Nugent and Liam Feeney with Jay Spearing further back.

I am happy to take a little bit of security with the -0.25 Asian Handicap at 3/4 with Gentingbet.

Best Bets

Nottingham Forest vs Norwich – Norwich Over 0 Goals, Norwich Over 3 Corners, Nottingham Forest Over 0 Cards and Over 1 Match Card (21/20 Bet365)

Wycombe vs Barnsley – Barnsley to win and Under 4.5 Goals (1/1 Paddy Power)

Grimsby vs Tranmere – Tranmere -0.25 Asian Handicap (3/4 Gentingbet)

About Author

I started betting on football more seriously whilst at university where I thought I knew everything about football. However, I quickly realised that the use of data gave you an edge. All my bets are based on statistical model output and research. When I haven't got my head in data I am life long Ipswich fan.

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