Crewe vs Plymouth | Tuesday 15th December 2020, 19:00
Nothing stands out in the Championship, although it was tempting to go with no goalscorer in the live game between QPR and Stoke.
However, I’ll head to Gresty Road for a bet that is very much based on stats and one where you can argue the price looks too big.
Four points and five places separate these two sides in the league table with Crewe in 11th on their return to the third-tier.
Alex have earned plenty of plaudits for their style of play and the way they bring younger players through their academy. On a shoestring budget, it’s fair to say David Artell is working wonders for the Cheshire club.
Five of Alex’s seven wins have been on home soil and they have a great opportunity to make that six from eight against travel-sick Plymouth.
Argyle have picked up just two points from 21 on the road so far, with draws at Wigan and AFC Wimbledon, so Ryan Lowe may have to consider something different to end this horrible away record.
Despite that wretched away sequence, I’ve found a pro-Plymouth market that looks worth taking. Yes, I am slightly bonkers, but hey-ho!
It’s not an exact science this, but the Pilgrims have won the corner count in five of their seven away games this season, racking up 51 corners, an average of 7.3 per away game.
In home matches, Crewe have taken more corners than the visiting team in three of nine games, taking 42 corners, an average of 4.67 per game.
So, on the averages, it’s 4.67 v 7.3. That makes you lean towards the away side on that data. Plus, if you factor in home and away tallies, Crewe average 4.88 corners compared to Plymouth’s 6.44.
Bet365 have Over 4.5 Plymouth corners at even-money, which has won in six of their seven away games, which I’ll be taking.
But purely on those averages, it’s hard to ignore a 12/5 poke as well. With Plymouth liking to have a shot (232- second-most) and putting in 371 crosses (fourth-most), I’ll take the visiting side to have the most corners as well.
Portsmouth vs Fleetwood | Tuesday 15th December 2020, 19:45
After a slow start, Kenny Jackett’s Portsmouth have charged up the League One table, and they’re now just three points off Hull, who they face on Friday night.
Consecutive 2-0 wins against fellow promotion hopefuls Peterborough and Ipswich will further grow their confidence given they’ve tasted defeat just once in the league since the start of November.
Fleetwood make the long trip south on the back of Saturday’s victory at Swindon, where Paddy Madden’s first-half strike earned the points. It ended a three-match winless run for Joey Barton’s side.
That was their third away win of the campaign, yet they've all been against sides in mid-table or below. And, they're a bit of a different beast on their travels to what they would be at home.
These two sides are in the hunt for promotion/play-off’s, so this could be a physical and competitive clash at Fratton Park.
What makes this tasty is card-happy referee Alan Young. He’s taken charge of 15 matches in all comps this season, dishing out 61 yellow and two reds.
In 10 of those 15 games, he’s shown at least four cards, equating to 40 booking points, and even behind closed doors, he’s abiding by the letter of the law, unlike some of his more lenient colleagues.
His last outing came in the Football League Trophy, where he seemed to reach the pocket quite often with seven yellows and a red produced (95 booking points).
When you factor in these two sides, Portsmouth have picked up 31 yellows and give away 14.8 fouls per game on average, which is the third-highest in the division.
There’s a good chance that Pompey will pick up more cards here, with Fleetwood’s opponents already collecting 34 yellows and five reds, while Barton’s players are fouled around 13 times per game on average.
The hosts will be without Lee Brown who limped off at the weekend, but with Andy Cannon and Tom Naylor ranking highly in the tacking charts, we can see them getting stuck in.
Pompey do like to press and that’s highlighted with John Marquis and Ronan Curtis topping their foul charts, with forward Marquis also collecting four cautions.
Despite seven of the nine visiting sides picking up 20+ or two-plus cards on visits to Fratton Park, Fleetwood aren’t the dirtiest team with lower rankings on the cards and foul counts.
So, there are options here. Both teams over 1 card (6/4 William Hill) could appeal with Fleetwood’s card count increasing in recent games, but I’ll utilise the Build #YourOdds feature and take over 1.5 Portsmouth cards and over 3.5 cards in the match at 27/20.
Exeter vs Harrogate | Tuesday 15th December 2020, 19:45
On Saturday night when I first glanced over the fixtures, three home teams stood out in League 2: Exeter, Carlisle and Crawley. All were odds-against but by Sunday morning, a couple of those prices had shortened.
But one side I’m happy to have on side for tonight’s EFL action is Exeter. They earned their sixth home win of the season with a thumping 5-0 win over Tranmere on Saturday, when Ryan Bowman grabbed himself a hat-trick.
Matt Taylor’s side sits fifth in the League 2 table and the divisions’ top scorers have the chance to continue their fabulous home form against a Harrogate side who have started to toil.
The Yorkshire side had a record of W4, D2, L1 after just seven games – a great start to life in the Football League, but since then they’ve found it tough going.
It’s just one win in their last 10 league games (D2, L7), with them failing to find the net in five of them, so the Sulphurites will need to find something to change that, especially after struggling to test the Morecambe keeper in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat.
The challenge for Simon Weaver’s side is competing against some of the bigger sides in the league. So far, their five wins have come against sides that currently sit 17th or below in the table.
Town have faced five sides that currently occupy a spot in the top 10. They’re yet to pick up a point, losing all five to an aggregate score of 9-2. That has seen 2-1 defeats at Colchester and Newport, plus a 3-0 loss at Leyton Orient.
Harrogate could have their work cut out in stopping the top-scoring side in the league. Exeter’s 38 goals are unmatched, but something that’ll give the visiting side hope is they’ve conceded a couple of fewer goals than the Grecians.
But still, it’s hard to ignore Exeter here. They tend to rack up the shots, an average of 13.5 per game, while they rank joint-second for shots on target (91). And, they have the third-best expected goals per game (1.64xG) in the league, while that increasing slightly to 1.71xG in home games.
The hosts’ are probably now around the right price to pick up the three points but we can make it slightly more appealing by backing goals in the game.
The Grecians last four games have seen 25 goals with them scoring 18 of those. Matt Jay has netted five, while Bowman has bagged a hat-trick in each of the last two at home.
Jay is 7/5 (Bet365) to strike and might be worth considering, while Bowman is the same price with Betfair to score. But given his recent run, the 15/2 for him to score a double might hold more appeal.
You might look at three of Harrogate’s last four finishing 1-0 to put you off, but they’re coming up a free-flowing, attacking side here.
With their struggles against some of the better sides in the league and defeats against top-ten sides seeing two-plus goals, then this 23/20 play looks the way to go, although it’s continually shortening.
Crewe vs Plymouth – Over 4.5 Plymouth Corners (1/1 Bet365)
Crewe vs Plymouth – Plymouth Most Corners (12/5 Bet365)
Portsmouth vs Fleetwood: Over 3.5 Cards and Over 1.5 Portsmouth Cards (27/20 William Hill)
Exeter vs Harrogate: Exeter to win and Over 1 Goal (23/20 Bet365)