Norwich vs Wycombe | Saturday 24th October 2020, 15:00
The league table might not suggest it and the natives might dismiss it but Norwich have been one of the Championship’s more convincing teams towards the top end of the embryonic league table. The relegated outfit sit third for Expected Points (xP) earned and occupy a top-four position for all the major underling metrics thus far.
Narrow back-to-back victories have lifted the mood around Carrow Road but Daniel Farke’s charges impressed in midweek despite managing just a 1-0 success here against Birmingham. The Canaries registered 23 shots during an extremely dominant performance and there are signs that Norwich are just beginning to settle into their stride.
Birmingham came to ‘park the bus’ with a 5-4-1 formation that was designed to frustrate and Wycombe are likely to follow a similar system on Saturday. However, the newcomers already look incapable of making the step up and it’s difficult to see how the Chairboys can contain this Norwich side for 90 minutes.
Gareth Ainsworth’s visitors have recorded six straight defeats, with their only goal arriving from a goalkeeping gaffe. Wanderers are rock-bottom across the board when viewing performance data figures, enjoying less than a 22% share of the Expected Goals (xG) and xG open play opportunities that have been carved out in their contests so far this season.
Wycombe are averaging fewer than four shots in the box per-game, compared to Norwich’s league-high 9.83 and it’s hard to imagine this game playing out any other way than a routine and comfortable home Canaries triumph. Therefore, I’ll happily take the hosts to overcome a -1.5 Asian Handicap hurdle at 22/25 (Bet365), profiting if City win by two goals or more.
Burton vs Wimbledon | Saturday 24th October 2020, 15:00
For the second week running I’m going to oppose Burton. The Brewers were beaten by Rochdale in midweek, failing to conjure up anything major in the final-third despite their guests arriving without their first-choice centre-backs, yet another alarming result and performance that leaves Albion propping up the League One table (W1-D1-L5).
Injuries and defensive errors continue to dog Albion’s campaign. John Brayford and Michael Bostwick remain sidelined for Burton with Ryan Edwards the only player considered to have a chance of returning for Saturday’s match with Wimbledon. And it’s hard to have faith in the hosts picking up maximum points when taking a deep dive into the early season numbers.
No third-tier side fires in fewer attempts at goal, and the Brewers are also ranked bottom (or close to) for xG generated, xG from open play output, as well as shots from inside the penalty area. In fact, Albion operate in the bottom two for the bulk of the some stats in ratio terms, with only beleaguered Wigan registering a lower xP figure.
Wimbledon sit in the safety of mid-table after a middling opening stanza (W2-D2-L3). The Dons have slightly underperformed according to underlying figures, mind, and have been forced to play home games at Loftus Road whilst their Plough Lane stadium gets concluded, and so a little leeway is allowed when viewing their overall efforts.
Results on the road have largely been promising for the Wombles (W2-D1-L1) with their only defeat arriving in midweek at table-topping Hull. Boss Glynn Hodges was pleased with his players’ application and is boosted by two extra attacking options returning from injury this weekend in striker Ollie Palmer and attacking midfielder Ethan Chislett.
Wimbledon are good enough to extend Burton’s worrisome start and the Dons with a +0.25 Asian Handicap start stands out at 4/5 (Bet365) knowing we’ll make money should the visitors avoid defeat at the Pirelli. The Brewers have bagged victory in only seven of their past 20 home outings going back to the beginning of last season.
Exeter vs Scunthorpe | Saturday 24th October 2020, 15:00
Exeter manager Matty Taylor admitted his Grecians group may have dodged a bullet in their come-from-behind 2-1 win against Crawley on Tuesday, saying “they couldn’t have got any worse” than the first half effort. The City supremo appreciated the result was slightly fortunate and has challenged his players to make a statement in response on Saturday.
The Devon outfit are now unbeaten in five League Two tussles (W3-D2-L0) and scored twice or more in five of their overall seven encounters since the restart. Exeter are also defending an excellent record at St James Park – the Grecians have suffered a solitary loss in their last 23 fixtures as hosts and should be confident at extending that streak against Scunthorpe.
The Iron were edged out 1-0 at Cheltenham in midweek and again offered precious little in the attacking-third. It was a fifth defeat in six league fixtures for Scunny, who are only off the bottom due to crisis-club Southend’s own dismal plight. The away side have fired blanks in four of seven contests and been nilled in all three of their previous road trips.
Scunthorpe’s underlying efforts offer next to encouragement either. In fact, the Iron rank 24th for xP, and the same position for xG ratio. Meanwhile, plans for Saturday have been hampered by one positive coronavirus test in the squad, and another forced to self-isolate. At least manager Neil Cox is expected to return to the sidelines for this showdown…
Cox continues to search for his strongest formation but new signing Junior Brown is unlikely to be involved from the off as the guests bid to arrest a long-term slide in results on the road (W4-D4-L10). In contrast, Exeter’s home League Two form (12 wins from 21) should put them in a strong position to take all three points.
Cheltenham closed around the 8/13 mark in midweek and there’s no reason why Exeter won’t go off similar quotes come 3pm on Saturday. I’m happy to support the hosts at 10/11 with Betway when adding Under 4.5 Goals into the equation.