EFL expert, The Betting Desk, returns with his weekly betting previews and best bets in England’s Football League.
Ipswich vs Portsmouth
It’s a top-of-the-table clash at Portman Road on Saturday afternoon as the Tractor Boys welcome Portsmouth in what should be a good game. Ipswich have been playing well under McKenna only losing five of his 33 league matches. They have started this season well and were a little unlucky to lose last time out against Plymouth, winning the xG 1.85 vs 0.76 and the shot count 15 v 12. However, Pompey are no mugs and haven’t tasted defeat this season.
Ipswich have become a very cynical side and as soon as the opposition bypasses their midfield then they look to break up any momentum with fouls. Against the Pilgrims last week, they could have easily been reduced to 10 maybe 9 men with some robust challenges which were close to the line.
Only two sides commit more fouls per League One game than Ipswich, whilst Pompey are the most fouled team in the division. The Tractor Boys are averaging 24 booking points per game and Pompey opposition are collecting on average 31.11 booking points.
What’s also striking is the number of booking points Ipswich collect when they play the better teams since McKenna has been in charge. In McKenna 33 games they have collected at least 10 booking points in 29 games.
Against the sides who finished in the top half last season and are in the top half this season: Wigan 40, Rotherham 50, Plymouth 20 & 40, Mk Dons 30, Sheff Wed 0 & 60, Oxford 20, Barnsley 20, Shrewsbury 10 and Bolton 20.
The referee here is Breakspear who in League One averages 47.50 booking points per game this season.
On the road Pompey have seen all four of their opponents collect at least 20 booking points so far this season. However, 20+ booking points is only 8/13 so I have added an Ipswich goal to boost the odds to 10/11 with Skybet. Ipswich have scored in every game this season and boost the most shots on target, shots in the box and shots in the box on target and I feel they will score again this weekend. There is close to 28,000 fans attending the game and Ipswich and McKenna know they need to bounce back after throwing a two-goal lead away at Sheff Wednesday and then slipping to a defeat after leading at Plymouth.
- Ipswich 20+ booking points and Ipswich 1+ goal – 10/11 with Skybet
Sheffield United vs Birmingham City
Sheff Utd should be too strong for an improving Birmingham side at Bramall Lane on Saturday. Since Heckingbottom took over the reins they have been in excellent home form with 14 wins from 18 matches and just one defeat. Over these games, they have conceded just five goals, two of which came in their shock defeat to Reading back in April. This season its W4-D0-L0 scored 11 and conceded just one.
There is no surprise that at home the Blades have the best xG ratio, creating 2.08 xG per home game, the best shots on target ratio and shots in the box ratio.
The Blues have struggled on the road recently with a record of W3-D7-L10 although they have no won back-to-back away games against Preston and WBA. They were a little fortunate to get three points when playing the Baggies as they lost the xG 2.11 v 0.64 and the shot count 17 v 7. I have them in 21st place on away xPTS, 21st on xG ratio, 18th on SOT ratio and 21st on a shot in the box ratio. Only Millwall and Huddersfield have a higher away xGA than the Blues.
Despite some improvements over the last few weeks, the Blades will still be too strong for them here. The hosts to win the game is as long as 4/9 but we can boost this by adding in both teams to collect a card.
The referee is Bond, who isn’t card heavy but has an average of 36.25 booking points per Championship game and has given both sides at least 10 booking points each in 88% of his games and 30+ booking points in 75%.
The Blues have collected at least two cards in every away game so far this season with an average of 2.8 per game. There should be ample opportunity for them to carry on their trend of collecting cards in away matches. The Blades have collected a card in 75% of home games, picking up 1.5 cards per home game. Since Heckingbottom took over, they have collected at least 1 card in 17 of 18 games with an average of 2.32 per game.
The odds that Bet365 would indicate the implied probability of this happening is 51% yet Sheff Utd have won four from four this season and have lost just once over the last 18 home games. Birmingham have collected a card in 100% of their away games and both teams to receive a card had landed in Sheff Utd in 83% of home games under Heckingbottom. In my view the odds should be shorter than what we are being offered here.
- Sheff Utd to win and both sides to receive a card – 24/25 with Bet365
Crawley Town vs Stevenage
Crawley are awful. No point in trying to dress it up. So far this term it’s W1-D3-L4 conceding an average of two goals per home game. They are the worst side in the division. They have just 7.74 xPTS which in comparison Stevenage have 18.77. They have the lowest xG with just 0.53 xG per game and therefore its no surprise they have the worst xG ratio and sit 23rd for shots on target ration and 24th for shots in the box ratio.
No side concedes more shots on target or shots in the box and no side has fewer shots in the box. Its pretty poor at both ends and you must ask how long manager, Kevin Betsy has in charge. Despite his doing well in his previous roles at Arsenal U23s and with the England junior set up, his first taste of league football is starting to become a nightmare for him. Its not even like results are poor and performances are being good.
It’s just been shocking.
Stevenage have Steve Evans in their dugout, and you know what you are going to get with his sides. Direct football which he makes no apologies for but a hard-working tight squad and this is paying dividends with an excellent start to the season.
So far, it’s W5-D1-L2 with both defeats coming on the road but to Bradford and Salford. Underlying performances have been strong – 2nd on xPTS, 1st for both xG ration and shots in the box ratio and 2nd for shots on target ratio.
Last week Stevenage won just 1-0 but won the xG 1.99 v 0.17 winning the shots 19 v 4, whilst Crawley lost 4-1 to Doncaster, losing the xG 2.6 v 0.67 losing the shot count 16 v 7. Looking at the last 4 league games, Stevenage has collected nine points and 7.59 xPTS whereas Crawley have just four points and 2.81 xPTS.
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