Adrian Clarke is back with two more EFL selections this weekend…
Fine margins may have gone against us last weekend when a pair of narrow handicap selections went up in smoke but I am feeling bouncebackability vibes this time around!
My latest EFL Insights column starts in the Championship…
EFL Bet: STUTTERING BOURNEMOUTH SHOULD REIGNITE THEIR SEASON WITH A WIN AT BOTTOM SIDE BARNSLEY
Across the last ten rounds of Championship matches, Scott Parker’s Bournemouth have collected a meagre nine points. It’s been a classic mid-season wobble.
Does this mean they are suddenly a poor side that’s destined to fall off a promotion cliff? Not for me, Clive.
The Cherries remain stacked with talent, strength in depth and a fierce determination to gain one of two automatic promotion spots that are up for grabs. And I believe they’re capable of achieving that goal.
All they need right now is something to kick start their campaign – and this weekend’s visit to beleaguered Barnsley offers them a gift-wrapped opportunity to get those winning juices flowing once more.
Barnsley are a bad Championship side this season.
The team was originally constructed by Valerian Ismael to play a special brand of direct, aggressive football but now they find themselves being urged by current head coach Poya Asbaghi to play out from the back and weave pretty patterns.
Lacking a clear identity that suits them they’ve been a mess, picking up just two wins from 26 matches in the league. Barnsley have lost seven of their last ten and are winless since November 3.
To see Bournemouth available at a backable price of 1.77 surprises me a little.
The hosts are also in the midst of a Covid/injury crisis too.
With head coach Asbaghi unwell and a raft of other key men missing the Tykes tried and failed to get a midweek clash at Nottingham Forest postponed, eventually losing it 3-0.
All in all, it feels like a convenient time for the Cherries to take on the strugglers.
As poor as they are it’s rare for the Yorkshire outfit to get battered. They’ve only been beaten by a three-goal margin twice this term, with just 2 of 26 games exceeding a total of four goals.
When you also consider that every Bournemouth victory has been in contests featuring four goals or less – and that they have only scored 13 goals in their last ten fixtures – it is not worth going near the Overs market.
Instead, my selection would be to pair a Bournemouth win with Under 4.5 goals, which boosts the odds nicely to 1.98.
If they do take all three points as expected, the prospects of an avalanche of goals feel remote.
This is the Cherries’ big chance to reignite the promotion flames and it would be criminal of them to blow it.
EFL Bet: HIGH STAKES ON THE WIRRAL BUT EXPECTING A LOW SCORING AFFAIR
Tranmere Rovers versus Forest Green Rovers is THE match of the weekend in League 2, pitting second against first.
They served up one of the most absorbing goalless draws you’ll see all season back in September when a remarkable 40 shots were shared out between them at the New Lawn.
Back then it felt like these were two of the best sides in the division, and so it has proved ahead of their reunion in the northwest.
My hunch is that this could be another high-quality low-scoring encounter, and here is my reasoning…
Firstly, when a match is as open and end-to-end as their last meeting it will have stuck in the memories of the managers’ involved.
Having seen just how dangerous one another can be, feeling like you could concede at any moment, I suspect it will have laid heavy on their minds in the build-up to this one.
If there is not a strong focus on negating the other teams’ attacking strengths I’ll be surprised.
Defensively, these also happen to be the two most solid outfits in League 2.
Tranmere have collected seven clean sheets in their last eight matches, letting in just 15 all season.
As for FGR, they will rock up at Prenton Park with four clean sheets from their last five contests.
Unsurprisingly, Rob Edwards’ men boast the second strongest defensive record with only 21 goals leaked from 25 outings.
Micky Mellon, Tranmere’s vastly experienced gaffer, is not the type to make this a basketball-type shootout.
If you check out their games against Top 10 opposition this term, it’s one long tale of dour affairs.
Not one of those 10 games has spawned more than two goals, with the average goal count a measly 1.1.
BTTS No also landed in nine of those ten important clashes too.
Forest Green v Top 10 teams has been a little more exciting but from nine games the average goals scored is still only 1.55.
Selection-wise it will come as a surprise to absolutely no one that I am keen to oppose goals here.
There are two ways to tackle it I believe. You can take BTTS NO at 1.94 with Matchbook or go with an Unders angle instead.
The line is set at Under 2.0/2.5 which is hardly surprising but at 1.87 I am still interested as it gets the 1-1 draw on side and into the green.
Whoever scores first will try and draw on their defensive acumen to see the game out, and the longer the match goes on with the scores level, the chances of them both settling for what they have will grow.
My pick is Under 2.0/2.5 goals at 1.87.
RECOMMENDED EFL BETS
- Bournemouth & Under 4.5 goals at Barnsley (1.98)
- Tranmere Rovers vs Forest Green Rovers Under 2.0/2.5 (1.87)
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