Bournemouth vs Preston | Tuesday 1st December 2020, 19:45
A few would have been surprised to see Bournemouth drop points at Rotherham on Saturday, but the Yorkshire club deserved their point.
The Cherries were outshot and outperformed from an expected goals point of view, but Jason Tindall’s side return to home comforts, where they’ve got a record of P7, W5 and D2. And, in that run, they’ve kept four clean sheets.
I’ll admit I wasn’t expecting this from Bournemouth, but Tindall’s got his side playing some good stuff and the impressive thing the other week was they didn’t panic. After finding themselves 2-0 down at half-time to Reading, they swept them away in the second half, running out 4-2 winners.
While Bournemouth will be targeting automatic promotion, Preston’s aim is currently around staying up. Alex Neil’s side have been uncharacteristically poor.
Five defeats in their last seven highlights the problem, although they did go to Reading, who were league leaders at the time, and won 3-0.
It’s fair to say North End have been punished in games though. Their expected goals against is 21.3xGA and they’ve conceded 21 goals. Their usual strong spine and defence just haven’t been there.
At the weekend, things managed to get even worse for Neil’s men. They lost at Watford with the 4-1 showing just part of Watford’s dominance. The Hornets had plenty of sting creating an expected goals of 3.25xGF while racking up 26 shots.
Only Wycombe (205) have faced more shots this season than Preston (188), so they’ll need to be more defensively disciplined and reduce that figure if they want to take points from games.
They face a tough ask doing it here with Bournemouth’s impressive home record. Plus, the Cherries rank third for shots and third for shots on target. Their average for those two metrics is 13 per game and five per game respectively.
I was looking at a potential shots angle for the hosts but Betfair have 15 at the mark for an odds-against price, but that’s something they’ve only achieve in four league games so far.
That said, how they’ll dictate possession here and how poor Preston have been could well see them hit that mark. Interestingly, Bournemouth’s highest shot numbers have been on the road.
I will take a chance on one of the Bournemouth players being heavily involved, and that’s Junior Stanislas. After a quiet start to the season, he’s starting to come good, bagging three in his last two.
He started on the left side of a front three at Rotherham but has been deployed a little deeper at times this season. But given the injury to Danjuma, he should make up that front three with David Brooks and Dom Solanke.
Stanislas has had 24 shots with six of them on target this season. In five of his 10 appearances, he’s recorded at least three shots, so it’s no surprise that’s 8/15 on Betfair.
In his last three, he’s managed at least one shot on target. He had two in the home game v Forest and recorded three more at Rotherham. So, up against a porous Preston side, who concede plenty of shots, the 31-year-old should get plenty of chances.
Given most of his shots have been outside the area, we know he can shoot on sight, so is definitely one to keep David Rudd busy. I’ll take the 7/2 on him having 2+ shots on target. If you fancy a repeat of Saturday’s three, then it’s 14/1.
Oxford vs Ipswich | Tuesday 1st December 2020, 19:00
Oxford surrendered a 1-0 lead when losing to rivals Swindon on Saturday. It leaves them hovering above the drop zone in 19th-place.
Despite that, their performance data is encouraging and suggests they should be able to pull away from trouble. Their excepted goals of 1.47xG per game ranks as the third-best in the league.
But the U’s are under-performing at the back. They have an expected goals against (xGA) of 1.21, which isn’t too dissimilar of tonight’s opponents (1.14xGA), but they’ve managed to concede 23 goals – the third-most.
So far though, they’ve only won four of their 13 league games, two of those here at the Kassam Stadium, so seeing them at just above even-money is a little off-putting.
But you couldn’t trust the visitors in their current form either. After a strong start, Ipswich have started to stutter.
The Tractor Boys have lost five of their last eight league games with some of the Portman Road faithful starting to turn on Paul Lambert.
Consecutive home defeats where they’ve failed to score won’t help the mood around the club, while their three most recent away games have all ended in losses at play-off and promotion rivals.
Neither of these two are in the greatest of form, so the way to play this looks to be in the cards market.
Oxford have collected 26 yellows and one red, while it’s 23 yellows and two reds for Ipswich. So, it’s fair to say they’ve already been picking them up at a good rate.
The hosts rank top of the fouls table at 17.4 per game, while it’s the visitors that rank well for tackles per game 15.6 per game, so both do like to get stuck in.
With Oxford’s style under Karl Robinson, it’s no surprise that they are up there for the most fouled team in League One.
A familiar name is in the middle – Bobby Madley. After being a Premier League referee a few years ago, he’s now back in the Football League after a spell in Norway.
The Yorkshire man is averaging around 3.4 cards in 10 games in all competitions. While he’s shown 27 yellows in eight league outings. And, he was involved in plenty of the action on Friday showing six cautions in Sunderland’s draw at Fleetwood, so still has his usual cards trait.
Cards look to be the way to go here with Oxford having had two or more cards in nine league games already this season, including in four of five at home.
Ipswich have similar numbers. They’ve picked up two-plus cards in five of six away games, including a red card in each of their last two recent away league games.
There’ll be players out there who like to ruffle a few feathers. Oxford have Sean Clare returning from suspension and Matty Taylor (30) ranks highly for fouls, so play the cards.
Colchester vs Crawley | Tuesday 1st December 2020, 19:00
Crawley head to Colchester looking to overtake them in the league table, and they’ll be buoyed after their FA Cup win over League One AFC Wimbledon at the weekend.
They came from behind to book a third-round tie against Premier League Leeds United after goals from Ashley Nadesan and Max Watters.
The FA Cup has been a welcome distraction after a slump in league form. John Yems’ side have to get back on track after failing to win in any of their last four, since their home win over high-flying Cambridge.
They’ll face a fresh Colchester side, who had the weekend off after an early FA Cup exit, and one out to prove a point. Their last game saw them humbled 6-1 at Exeter, so John McGreal’s side will need to bounce back.
The U’s have picked up 16 points in home games with five wins and one draw, so it’ll be a tough ask for a Crawley side who’ve recorded one away success in the league all season.
Goals look to be the way in here with 10 of Colchester’s 13 seeing both sides bag, while both teams have only managed to keep three shutouts each.
The hosts have only kept one clean sheet in their last 11 league games, which means it’s worth looking at an angle from a pro-Crawley perspective.
So, with that in mind, it’s hard to look past Max Watters. He took his tally to 10 goals in 12 games with his winner in the FA Cup at the weekend.
Break it down further; he’s netted seven in nine in the league and averages 2.33 shots on target per 90. Excellent numbers indeed from the rookie!
Colchester do tend to allow plenty of shots at their goal, with opponents already having racked up 204 across the campaign – an average of nearly 16 per game. And, their overall expected goals against is the worst in the league at 1.67xGA per game.
Looking at the data for away games only, then Crawley’s xGA isn’t too good either. Theirs is the fourth-worst figure at 1.63xGA, so chances for Colchester in this one too.
Given those numbers, you’ll have to believe there’ll be plenty of goalmouth action. Watters is 7/4 to score anytime (Bet365), which looks fair given his red-hot run but to get a bigger price, chuck it in a Bet Builder with both teams to score for an even better looking 5/2.
Bournemouth vs Preston – Junior Stanislas 2+ Shots on-Target (7/2 Betfair)
Oxford vs Ipswich – Each Team Over 1 Card (2/1 William Hill)
Colchester vs Crawley – Both Teams To Score and Max Watters To Score (5/2 Bet365)