Middlesbrough vs Luton | Wednesday 16th December 2020, 19:00 | Sky Sports
Neil Warnock got the response he wanted from his side after consecutive away losses, but more so the capitulation at Preston.
That or the changing rooms must be more suitable at the Riverside. Anyhow, six of Boro’s seven wins have been at home, and only Watford have more points in home games than the Teeside club.
While being strong at home, they don’t concede many goals at the Riverside either. The four they have is the joint-lowest with Swansea, so Luton will have their work cut out creating clear-cut chances.
Luton travel north sat comfortably in 11th place in mid-table. Nathan Jones’ return to the club saw them avoid relegation and they’ve started this campaign brightly – just like he was never away.
But the Hatters have failed to score in five of their nine away games, and more recently in each of their last three.
Part of that problem is they rank second-lowest for shots per game (9.4) and have 3.1 shots on target per game. Narrow it down more specifically to just away games, then the troubles are there for all to see – 6.6 shots per game (lowest) and just 1.6 shots on target per game.
If you don’t buy a ticket, you can’t win the raffle, so few shots equal fewer chances. And they’ll be feeding off scraps against a Scrooge-like Boro defence.
Boro to win and under 4.5 goals is odds-on, but put it in a Build #YourOdds at William Hill with over 0.5 Luton cards brings it to an attractive 21/20 play.
Luton have had a card in eight of their nine away games. The only one they didn’t was at Cardiff where they were 2-0 down in nine minutes, so the foot went off the gas.
Warnock’s a wily old fox and one thing he’s done well is take a chance on Duncan Watmore by nursing him back to fitness. The former Sunderland man has had his injury problems but in appearances for Boro, he’s popped in some promising areas.
He’s only started four times, with two cameos off the bench. But in the last two home games, he’s bagged four goals – doubles in each. They came in 67 mins v Swansea – a stronger defence than this one – and 70 mins v Millwall – both in the first half.
The 26-year-old is a lively and tenacious player, who knows how to finish. Given this Luton side have struggled in recent outings against sides pushing for the play-offs it would be rude to ignore his prices.
With Watmore scoring four of Boro’s last five goals, the 5/2 on him to score is worth a few shillings, while it’d be rude to ignore the 18/1 on two or more goals – that’ll get half a point.
Blackburn vs Rotherham | Wednesday 16th December 2020, 19:45 | Sky Sports
The other bet I’ll be playing tonight may surprise some. It does surround a Rotherham player but everything points to it being a tempting enough price.
I’ll start by pointing out that after picking up five points from their first three away games, the Millers have lost six straight games, so it’s no surprise that Blackburn are heavily odds-on, especially with attacking options including Adam Armstrong and Harvey Elliott – and it was the latter who scored a sensational solo goal in the defeat against Norwich on Saturday.
I remember a few weeks ago Barnsley coming to Ewood Park and racking up 20+ shots, so there’s hope for Paul Warne’s side as they cross the Pennines. Throw in that Rovers have also conceded 10 goals at home, then it might be worth finding something pro-Rotherham.
The visitors arrive on the back of a comfortable win against Bristol City at the weekend, where they recorded 22 shots, with eight on target.
If they bring that here then they’ll trouble Blackburn, no doubt about that. Tony Mowbray’s side have allowed the fourth-most (235) shots in games with 71 of those hitting the target.
Rotherham are middle of the road for shots and shots on target, but it might be worth siding with one of their players.
Daniel Barlaser has started 11 times for the Millers since joining from Newcastle. So far, he’s had 14 shots with seven on target, a 50% success rate – with three goals scored.
The 23-year-old has had a shot on target in each of his last three starts. Two of those came on their travels at QPR and Coventry. In Saturday’s game, he had two efforts from outside the area with one testing the keeper.
It’s those areas on the edge of the box where the central midfielder pops up, which see him getting shots off on goal. Overall, four of his seven on target have been in away games.
In this Millers’ team, he has the fourth-most shots on target with only forwards Michael Smith (10) and Freddie Ladapo (8), plus midfielder Jamie Lindsay (9) having more efforts on target.
So, with his late-arriving runs onto the edge of the area, he could find space to pull the trigger. And with Rovers conceding 14.9 shots per home game (the most), then there’s an opportunity to be had here.
At the prices, there’s Michael Smith (EVS – Betfair) to have a shot on target – he had four v Bristol City and is Rotherham’s most likely candidate, but at 13/10, Barlaser can feed off the knockdowns in and around the 18-yard box to test Thomas Kaminski.
Middlesbrough vs Luton – Middlesbrough to win, Under 4.5 Goals and Over 0.5 Luton Cards (21/20 William Hill)
Middlesbrough vs Luton – Duncan Watmore to score (5/2 Bet365)
Middlesbrough vs Luton – Duncan Watmore to score 2+ goals (18/1 Bet365)
Blackburn vs Rotherham – Daniel Barlaser 1+ shot on target (13/10 Betfair)