JOIN Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) and Chris Graham (@ChrisGraham79) in a corridor as they chat about the best Football League bets on offer this weekend.
Huddersfield v Bristol City | Saturday 15.00
Jurgen Klopp’s best mate David Wagner appears to be settling into life as Huddersfield Town manager quickly. The Terriers’ performance-levels have picked up superbly since he’s taken the reigns in West Yorkshire and Town are worth supporting on Saturday at 6/4 quotes with Boylesports.
Having arrived too late to make an impact in a 3-1 home reverse to Sheffield Wednesday, Wagner’s first major bow in the dugout came a fortnight ago when promotion-chasing Middlesbrough turned up at the John Smith’s Stadium. Huddersfield were beaten 2-0 but the result didn’t tell the full story.
The Terriers dominated possession against Boro but struggled to carve out enough clear-cut chances. But most impressively, the hosts restricted the Teesiders to just shots in the 90 minutes and visiting boss Aitor Karanka admitted post-match, “Huddersfield looked like the top team, not us. Huddersfield played really well and I expected that.”
Wagner was chuffed with Town’s display too, saying: “The result was very different to the performance. I was very pleased with the way we played, particularly in the first-half.
“Middlesbrough only had two chances in this game and we saw which team was better and which team created more chances. Sometimes in football you don't get the result you deserve.”
So naturally, the new boss was delighted to pocket maximum points from last weekend’s trip to sixth-placed (before kick-off) Birmingham. Huddersfield ran out 2-0 winners, their first victory in six, having led after just 31 seconds. Arguably most impressive again though was their defensive work that allowed the Blues just two attempts on-target.
Speaking after the success, Wagner said, “It was the perfect performance. We started as we finished the previous game and this is a good sign. Everybody can see the difference – last week was better than the week before, this game was better than the last.”
They’re encouraging words and Huddersfield appear to be reaping the rewards of hard work on the training paddock.
Dean Whitehead misses out this weekend but otherwise a fit, fresh and confident group are ready for action as they bid to enhance a record that’s seen the Terries beat all three clubs below them in the table, scoring at least twice in each.
According to Coral’s head of football trading Nick Goff (@NickGoff79), visitors Bristol City are the biggest underachievers in the Championship this season when viewing pre-season projections and just three wins in 19 it certainly cause for concern.
The Robins arrive with a W1-D3-L4 record from their last eight, scoring just four goals. And back-to-back losses (3-0 at Rotherham and 2-0 at home to Blackburn) have gotten certain sections of the Cider Army support beginning to question manager Steve Cotterill.
Blackburn won the shots-on-target count 7-1 at Ashton Gate last weekend as City failed to give Rovers any major headaches across the 90 minutes despite enjoying plenty of possession.
It was a similar story at Rotherham with the likes of Luke Freeman and Joe Byran a shadow of themselves from their triumphant promotion-winning campaign.
Nathan Baker was stupidly sent off last time out and misses out on Saturday whilst chief goal-getter Jonathan Kodija seems to have lost his early season mojo. Chuck in a clutch of naïve and defensively inept performances and Bristol City are going to need to dig deep to rid relegation fears.
On the road the Robins have played six of the top nine but have still only taken two points from fixtures at Bolton, Rotherham and Preston whilst failing to score in four of their nine away days. I’ll happily invest my faith in the upward moving Terriers.
Peterborough v Shrewsbury | Saturday 15.00
Yes, it’s more Graham Westley love. I’ll try not to sound like a deranged fan but I’m so delighted to see the great man getting the plaudits he deserves after a quite phenomenal impact since arriving at London Road.
I’ll try and keep this as light as possible but the stats his Peterborough team are producing are simply astonishing.
Since Westley joined Posh, they’ve returned W10-D1-L3, scoring 39 goals and conceding 18. They’ve kept just five clean sheets but in all bar one of those 14 matches they’ve scored at least twice and half of those fixtures have been won at least two clear goals.
Posh are averaging 2.78 goals-per-game, are firing in an average of 19 shots-per-game with 7.71 efforts on-target per-game – they’re records that are simply streets and country miles clear of their League One rivals as they’ve now bagged six successive victories.
No wonder Westley’s been nominated for the November Manager of the Month award alongside teenage midfielder Jermaine Anderson.
Last weekend Posh destroyed and dismantled Luton. Don’t be fooled by the 2-0 scoreline, Peterborough enjoyed 67% possession and were credited with a staggering 35 attempts on goal – that’s approximately one every two-and-half minutes! Ex-Posh stopper Mark Tyler made numerous great saves to keep the Hatters competitive and Westley admitted post-match, “We could have done some real damage.”
The way in which Peterborough have been transformed into such an enterprising, exciting team under Westley and Grant McCann is truly remarkable with the gifted Marcus Maddison even unable to get a start. Erhun Oztumer – labelled the Turkish Messi – has excelled with his spectacular vision and string-pulling from midfield and I just can’t see Shrewsbury stopping Posh on Saturday.
Posh fans will be delighted to hear the top-scoring side in League One has won the division in four of the last 10 renewals and won promotion on seven occasions. The hosts are now just six points off the automatic places having climbed into sixth and they look a rock solid bet this weekend.
But I’m going to boost the odds to 8/5 by adding Over 2.5 Goals into the equation. Posh’s 14 outings under Westley are averaging 4.07 goals-per-game and they’ve dispatched all eight teams they’ve met in 14th and below by an aggregate score of 27-7.
Shrewsbury were held to a goalless draw by Grimsby on Monday night in the FA Cup second round but the Conference National side hit the woodwork twice and had the lion’s share of the chances. Only five clubs are averaging fewer shots-on-target than Salop and I could see them being taken apart on Saturday.
However, Posh’s lack of shutouts also suggests their susceptible to conceding goals. The hosts could cover the Over 2.5 Goals angle themselves but I wouldn’t rule out Micky Mellon’s men contributing. Boylesports 8/5 looks generous, to me.
Crawley v Dagenham & Redbridge | Saturday 15.00
Crawley’s rise from 23rd to 14th when bagging W6-D1-L2 has levelled out following their back-to-back defeats to Northampton and Carlisle. Mark Yates’ men are now sitting in 17th as they bid to get back to winning ways.
The Red Devils fired blanks in five of their first nine this term but have now impressively notched in each of their last 11 in league football. Nine of those rewarded Both Teams To Score backers and a repeat at 17/20 (BetVictor) on Saturday looks too big to ignore.
Town boast one of League Two’s top marksman in Rhys Murphy and the former Arsenal youngster will be keen to impress against his old club on Saturday. Having been in fine form since his arrival on loan from Oldham, you’d expect Murphy to be bang on-song against Dagenham.
The Daggers are struggling to get to grips with 2015/16 and are only outside the bottom-two because both York and Yeovil have managed to be even worse. The Londoners have W2-D7-L11 but a 1-1 draw with non-league Whitehawk at home last weekend has only intensified calls for boss Wayne Burnett to go.
Bizarre team selection, lazy tactics and a lack of ideas are being attributed to Burnett and another poor result on Saturday could well see the manager lose his job. However, we’re only interested in their goalscoring record and as I’ve mentioned a few times before in this column, it’s actually very impressive on the road.
Taking this campaign and only the full seasons Burnett has been in charge of at Victoria Road (since 2013/14), the visitors have actually scored in 44/56 away games. Their issue is keeping the goals out – just nine shutouts to their name have helped to reward BTTS backers in 36/56 (64%) road trips including seven of their 10 this term.
A repeat at the Broadfield Stadium has plenty more chance of landing than the odds suggest, making it a solid value bet this weekend.
Huddersfield v Bristol City – Huddersfield to win (6/4 Boylesports)
Peterborough v Shrewsbury – Peterborough to win and Over 2.5 Goals (8/5 Boylesports)
Crawley v Dagenham & Redbridge – Both Teams To Score (17/20 BetVictor)
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