FOOTBALL LEAGUE fan Matthew Kirby (@M_Kirby95) oversees Tuesday night's action from the EFL, picking out his best bets.
Portsmouth v MK Dons | Tuesday 25th February 2020, 19:45
Portsmouth were tipped by many for promotion pre-season, but the pressure was on Kenny Jackett after a slow start to the campaign. But things are back on track for Pompey, who have climbed to just outside the play-off spots and this is one of the games in hand they have over the likes of Wycombe and Peterborough above them.
Since the start of December, Portsmouth have played nine games with a record of W6, D1, L2. Five of those six wins have been against sides in the bottom nine places – and they’ll look to add MK Dons to that list.
Russell Martin took over the reins at Stadium MK with the club in 21st place having won just four of their opening 16 matches. It’s been slow but steady progress. They’ve managed to put distance between themselves and the relegation zone. That’s been helped with three wins and two draws in their last five games.
However the Dons have an awful away record. Nine defeats from 15, with just one win coming all the way back in September, so they’ll have their work cut out here.
Looking at some of the metrics available, Experimental361 have Pompey in second with an Expected Goals (xG) of 52.4, but they’ve only converted 45 times suggesting they do create golden chances. They are unbeaten here at Fratton Park in 15 league games (W10-D5-L0) and it’s eight clean sheets too.
Although the hosts defence will have to be wary of Rhys Healey. The MK Dons forward has 10 goals this season and he’s found the net in his last five.
Pompey did slump to a defeat on the road at Fleetwood on Saturday, but that came after the high of beating Exeter in dramatic fashion in the EFL Trophy. They did nearly take something from their visit to Highbury, but Ronan Curtis’ free-kick hit the bar.
With seven of Portsmouth’s home wins being by scores of 1-0 or 2-0, then look to the hosts to win with Under 4.5 Goals in the game.
West Brom v Preston | Tuesday 25th February 2020, 20:00
This is game of the night in the Championship as league leaders West Brom host sixth-placed Preston. It’s a big night for the visitors who can build a cushion over the chasing pack for a play-off spot, and maybe even capitalise on any slip-ups from Leeds.
Despite the Baggies winning 3-0 at Bristol City, it came at a cost with Romaine Sawyers seeing red. The deep-lying midfielder will be a big miss. He’s one of the best players in the league – tidy in possession and able to break opposition attacking play up.
That’ll force Slaven Bilic into at least one change, but he has been able to shuffle his pack given the resources available, so he could make a few more to keep things fresh.
I’m looking towards something pro-Preston here given they’ve only lost once in their last eight in the league. And they’re strong on the road – unbeaten in six and have won the last three.
Although those three wins have been against sides in the bottom six, the Lilywhites took a point off Leeds at Elland Road and they seem to have spells of good away form at this time of year – just look at 12-months ago.
One man in particular stands out for the visitors and that’s Alan Browne, who pops up in advanced positions despite playing as a holding midfielder.
The 24-year-old only played 32 minutes on Saturday, but he was the match winner for Alex Neil’s side, when he headed home Jayden Stockley’s cross. That’s five for the season and two in his last three.
In eight of Preston’s last 12 league games he’s registered two or more shots, and ranks highly in that area for the visitors. At 10/11 for that, it’s something I like considering West Brom have only kept one clean sheet at home and they allow around 11 shots on their goal per-game.
Given his recent form in front of goal and the amount of attempts he has, then the 9/4 (Betfair) for a shot on target also appeals.
On a side note, I see Sky Bet have priced up Ben Pearson and Jake Livermore at 8/1 in the player carded accumulator markets. It’s a short as 5/1 on Coral and with these being two of the more combative bad boys in the league, then that might tempt a few in.