On behalf of all at EFS, we would like to wish our users and readers a very happy Christmas! Hopefully, the selections and our app can make the festive period a profitable one as well as an enjoyable one. A bumper list of picks this week, with 9 selections complete with analysis and a summary below.
Last weekend’s selections were not as successful as prior weeks, with only 2 of the 6 picks winning. The selection of Wycombe was torpedoed with an early red card and Bradford conceded a late equaliser to blow another. There is expected to be a further blog for this weekend’s games and one for the New Year’s Day fixtures.
Bournemouth vs Arsenal
Bournemouth host Arsenal with a 3pm kick-off at the Vitality Stadium. Bournemouth have struggled throughout 2019, only winning 2 games in the last 3 months. However, these were against the traditional bigger clubs, Manchester United and Chelsea. Bournemouth have shown in recent weeks that they struggle to break teams down that defend deep against them. Crystal Palace comfortably kept Bournemouth out and won 1-0, despite playing for 70 minutes with 10 men.
This should not be the case against Arsenal. Arsenal would be expected to dominate the ball in the first game of Mikel Arteta’s reign. This should play into Bournemouth’s hands, and there should be opportunities for Bournemouth to find space on the counter-attack. Furthermore, Arsenal appear underpriced. Although they have a new manager, it is unlikely their defensive issues will have corrected themselves in the short time that Arteta has been in charge.
A tight game is expected, with both teams appear closely matched. However, with Arsenal available at odds on, and Bournemouth available at 3.5 (5/2), anything over 2.75 (7/4) would represent good value on the Cherries to win.
Manchester United vs Newcastle United
Manchester United have shown similar issues to Arsenal. Their best results this season had come when they were heavy underdogs. They are the only team that Liverpool have not beaten and recorded an excellent 2-1 win away at Manchester City. However, they have struggled to break teams down who set up defensively and aim to counter-attack. Although they are difficult to beat at home, they have won less than half their matches and lost 2-0 at bottom club Watford on Friday.
Newcastle are their opponents and are going to make life very difficult for Manchester United. Despite consistently conceding large amounts of possession, they are in excellent form, only losing 2 of their last 9 games. They have conceded 2 goals in their previous 4 matches, are very organised and will prove a real challenge to break down.
While Manchester United are rightly favourites for this, they are far too short at odds of 1.33 (1/3). Newcastle are available as a double chance at odds of 3.2, and anything higher than 2.50 (6/4) would be a good bet.
Stoke City vs Sheffield Wednesday
The first Championship selection comes from the Bet365 stadium, where Stoke host Sheffield Wednesday. The Owls have been in excellent form, as they are unbeaten in 6 following an unlucky loss to league leaders West Bromwich Albion, and have risen to 3rd in the table. Away from home, since that match, they have won 2 and drawn 1 of their 3 games, scoring 8 and conceding only 2. They have been strong away from home all season, with easy wins offsetting close and late losses. Overall, they belong in a tier of teams below the runaway leaders. They appear a likely candidate for the play-offs, ignoring any off the field issues.
They travel to bottom club, Stoke. Stoke sacked Nathan Jones in October, appointing Michael O’Neill. Although Stoke made a good start with O’Neill, winning their first 2 matches, they have struggled since. In the subsequent 6 games, they have only won 1 and drawn 1, against bottom-half clubs Wigan and Reading. This will be O’Neill’s toughest match to date; all of his opponents so far have been 8th or lower in the table.
It appears Sheffield Wednesday should be favourites for this, but Stoke currently are available at 2.70 (17/10), with the Owls at 2.90 (19/10). Anything over 2.20 (6/5) would be good value on Sheffield Wednesday to win, and they are taken as a selection.
Wigan vs Derby
The DW Stadium hosts Wigan and Reading in a 3pm kick-off. Both teams come into the match in a poor run of form; in the last 10 games, they sit 23rd and 21st in the form table. Wigan have had issues conceding late goals in recent weeks, especially away from home. However, their home form has been stronger of late, recording 1-1 draws against Huddersfield and league leaders West Bromwich Albion. They have struggled to score goals, only scoring 10 in their last 10 games.
Derby are in a dreadful run away from home, losing their last 6 matches without scoring. They lost 3-0 at Reading last time, playing all but 4 minutes with 10 men. They have issues scoring goals home and away, only scoring 5 in their previous 10 games.
This is expected to be a tight and tense match, and a scoreless draw wouldn’t be unexpected. However, the selection is for under 1.5 goals in the game, which is available to be backed at 3.20 (11/5).
Portsmouth vs Wycombe Wanderers
Although Wycombe were a selection last week, their chances were doomed after 26 minutes when they were a goal behind and reduced to 10 men. However, the same comments made last week still apply; Wycombe is excellent defensively. They did not concede against a free-scoring Oxford team in the 65 minutes they played with 10 men. Before last week, they had not conceded a goal in league games in 2 months.
Portsmouth endured a disappointing start to the season but had turned their form around until suffering a setback against Accrington Stanley. They corrected this with a 1-0 win over Ipswich last time out. They remain unbeaten at home, but Wycombe will be the toughest team they have faced this season to date.
While Portsmouth are rightly favourites, they are expected to dominate the ball and likely create more chances, the price available on Wycombe is far too high at 4.40 (17/5). They are taken as a selection to upset the odds.
Oxford vs Lincoln
The Kassam Stadium hosts Oxford vs Lincoln. Oxford has been in red hot form at home recently, having not conceded a league goal on their own turf since August, and they top the home form table in the last 6 matches. They recorded a win over league leaders Wycombe last time out, an impressive result, and the first goal Wycombe had conceded for 2 months.
Lincoln has struggled since winning away at Rotherham in their first away match since promotion. The only win they have recorded in their last 10 away games was at Burton, and have lost 7 of those matches. It would be a major surprise to see them competitive against Oxford.
Although Oxford are odds on favourites for this, the odds of 1.75 (3/4) do not reflect their expected chances of success. They are taken as a selection, as anything higher than 1.50 (1/2) would represent value.
Carlisle vs Bradford
The first selection comes from Brunton Park, where Carlisle host Bradford. Carlisle have struggled to generate goals at home, as they average under 1 goal scored per game. However, they have a solid defence at the other end of the pitch. Outside of a 4-2 loss to free-scoring Crewe, they have kept a clean sheet in 4 of their last 7 games.
Bradford have scored and conceded 11 in their 10 matches away from home. Bradford has played in very close matches this season away from home. All of their 10 games have been settled as a draw or with a one-goal margin either way. Their last away match ended 0-0, as did Carlisle’s last 2 home matches.
The game is too close to call, with Bradford rightly favourites, but there is no value in the prices available. The selection comes in the number of goals, with under 2.5 goals priced at 1.83 (5/6). Anything over 1.60 (3/5) would be good value.
Leyton Orient vs Colchester
Leyton Orient hosts Colchester in a 1pm kick-off. Although Leyton Orient drew 0-0 against Bradford last time, who typically play low scoring and close games, this is expected to be much more open. The match against Bradford was an anomaly; Leyton Orient home games average 3 goals, with BTTS landing in 4 of the 5 games before that.
Colchester also see an above-average number of goals in their away games, with 2.5 goals per game, compared to a league average of 2.45. Crucially though, BTTS has landed in their last 3 away matches, recording a 1-1 and a 2-2 draw and a 3-2 win.
The selection here is for both teams to score (BTTS), and is available to be backed at 1.80 (4/5). Anything higher than 1.60 (3/5) would represent substantial value.
Vanarama National League
Yeovil vs Torquay
Yeovil have made a strong promotion push following their relegation from the Football League last term. They sit in second in the league and are unbeaten in 6 games. However, Yeovil have struggled defensively over the last few weeks, having only kept 1 clean sheet in their previous 8 matches. Despite this, they are potent in attack, with only Bromley having scored more home goals than Yeovil’s 22.
Torquay made a solid start to the season but have really struggled in recent weeks, having lost their last 6 games. They have been scoring and conceding goals frequently, with their away games seeing an average of 3.6 goals, a long way above league averages.
While Yeovil are expected to win this game, it would be no surprise to see both teams get on the scoresheet. The selection is Yeovil to win, and both sides to score. This is available to be backed at 3.50 (5/2), and anything bigger than 2.75 (7/4) would represent good value.
– Bournemouth vs Arsenal – Bournemouth to win at odds greater than 2.75
– Manchester United vs Newcastle United – Newcastle double chance at odds greater than 2.50
– Stoke City vs Sheffield Wednesday – Sheffield Wednesday to win at odds greater than 2.20
– Wigan Athletic vs Derby County – Under 1.5 goals at odds greater than 2.75
– Portsmouth vs Wycombe Wanderers – Wycombe to win at odds greater than 3.00
– Oxford United vs Lincoln City – Oxford to win at odds greater than 1.50
– Carlisle United vs Bradford City – Under 2.5 goals at odds greater than 1.60
– Leyton Orient vs Colchester United – BTTS at odds greater than 1.60
– Yeovil Town vs Torquay United – Yeovil to win & BTTS at odds greater than 2.75
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