EFL Tipping Supremo Adrian Clarke returns with a pair of selections for the weekend ahead
Welcome back to my EFL Insights column! Three wins from four picks represents a decent start to the campaign, but now is the time to kick on with a couple more successful selections. We start with a Championship clash that should be lively…
Set Piece Dominance Could Turn Posh v Baggies Into A Goal Fest
Scoring 11 goals in four matches West Bromwich Albion have looked devastatingly good under Valerian Ismael, the head coach who almost steered unfashionable Barnsley to the Premier League last season.
In the space of just a few weeks at the helm, the giant 45-year-old has made the Baggies a nightmare to play against. Frenetic in the way they hunt down opponents with a strong, well-coordinated press, his side are already excellent at suffocating rival teams and forcing mistakes.
With Premier League quality running through the starting XI, they are very well equipped to capitalise on that dominance.
West Brom’s other core strength is their menace from set-piece situations.
In every match they have played this season, Darnell Furlong’s devilish long throw-ins or Alex Mowatt’s accurate deliveries from corners and free-kicks have scared opponents witless.
When you have a bunch of tall players, expert delivery makers and a coach that has a truckload of training ground routines to unleash, it is a recipe for goals!
Saturday night’s opponents Peterborough United will be nervous.
The Posh are adjusting OK to life in the Championship, but their Achilles Heel is, yes, you’ve guessed it, defending corners, free kicks and long throws.
They outplayed Cardiff City in their last home contest (a side not dissimilar in style to the Baggies) but gave up a 2-0 lead to settle for a point. Both concessions came from set plays.
Last weekend they lost at Preston to a goal headed home from a wide free-kick.
In the build-up to this match, Posh boss Darren Ferguson said: “We are looking forward to the match, although there are certain things we will need to improve. Defending set-pieces is one of them, but we have the players to hurt them if we stick to our plans.”
He’s right too. In the shape of Jonson Clarke-Harris, Siriki Dembele and Jack Marriott, the home side do have forwards who can hurt anybody at this level, including West Bromwich Albion.
Peterborough United have scored twice in both home matches so far and were League 1’s top-scoring side in 2020-21, so don’t rule out a close, high scoring match.
All things considered, West Brom should be too strong for Ferguson’s battlers, especially after resting their entire starting XI in the Carabao Cup defeat to Arsenal.
I certainly wouldn’t advise against a play on the away win & over 1.5 goals (2.2), but I’m happier to keep things less complicated by sticking to the goals angle alone.
Every Baggies contest has exceeded 2.5 goals so far, and Posh have been involved in three of four matches that featured at least three goals.
I don’t see anything other than a lively game where both sets of defenders are posed plenty of questions.
The price has shortened in the last few hours from 1.96, but I’ll still be taking Over 2.5 goals at 1.91.
Backing A Historic First EFL Win On Sutton’s Home Bow
After spending 109 years as a non-league ground, Gander Green Lane plays host to its first-ever Football League match this Saturday, and I expect Sutton United to mark the occasion with their first victory.
The U’s may not have won at this level yet, but they are handling the step-up very well.
There was no shame in being beaten by a 90th-minute winner at highflyers Forest Green Rovers on the opening day.
Matt Gray’s men had six shots on target to Scunthorpe United’s one but somehow only drew 1-1, and they were more than a match for much-fancied Salford City in an even goalless draw in the Manchester suburbs.
Finally, they now get to play in front of their fans at a stadium where they averaged more than two goals per game last season in the National League.
Losing their 3G surface is not ideal, but in front of a raucous sell-out crowd, the Sutton players will undoubtedly be fired up to mark such a historic day with a performance to remember.
If they could have hand-picked their opponents, I fancy they might have chosen bottom-of-the-table Oldham Athletic too.
In the Carabao Cup, it’s gone OK for Keith Curle’s side, but four straight League 2 defeats have left them playing catch-up.
Performances have not been disastrous, but morale among the fanbase is at an all-time low, with protests against the ownership disrupting their midweek clash with Accrington Stanley.
Fans are even planning to boycott games until there is a change at the top.
If Oldham are the slightest bit distracted or not ready for the battle that Sutton United are readying themselves for, they won’t stand a chance this weekend.
The hosts have waited a long, long time for this moment, and I expect them to perform as if their lives depend on a victory.
On the right side of even money (2.06), I feel Sutton United are a side worth backing on Saturday afternoon.
This is a great opportunity to fully announce themselves as an EFL club.
- Peterborough United v West Bromwich Albion Over 2.5 goals (1.91)
- Sutton United to beat Oldham Athletic (2.06)
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