Adrian Clarke was so, so close to another clean sweep last weekend but he does have 14 winners from his last 20 EFL tips on Insights.
He’s feeling the away team this weekend…
It’s been a fun and profitable start to 2022, so let’s keep that run going this weekend with a pair of away fancies in the EFL…
BORO SHOULD BE TOO GOOD FOR BRITTLE BRISTOL CITY
Middlesbrough are a team restyled, reborn and revitalised under the impressive Chris Wilder.
Across the last ten matches, they have been the Championship’s best outfit, accruing 23 points. Yep, even more than Fulham. And during that same period, the Teesiders have leaked just six goals at the wrong end of the field.
Developing a brand of stylish football that we’ve seen before at Sheffield United the Boro players are loving it, and together they are understandably daring to dream of the Premier League.
Right wingback, Isiah Jones is heading there for sure, with or without his teammates, scorching down that flank to create havoc, home and away.
In midfield, James Tavernier and Jonny Howson are on fire, while the back three of Dijksteel, Fry and McNair are rapidly resembling Messrs Egan, Basham and O’Connell of Bramall Lane fame from yesteryear.
This weekend they visit Bristol City, the division’s most porous side right now.
Under a rather disillusioned Nigel Pearson, they simply can’t stop leaking goals, letting in 28 across 11 clean-sheet-less matches. Shipping 42 goals from open play (the most in the division) they have been all over the place for months.
Failure to show a marked improvement in their positioning and decision-making on Saturday afternoon could result in a heavy beating from a Middlesbrough side that’s just spanked Derby County 4-1.
Bristol City do score goals in fairness but against the Championship’s better teams they have tended to come up short.
In 16 matches against sides sat in the top half of the table as it stands, Pearson’s men have collected eight points from a possible 48. Ten of those contests have ended in defeat.
It’s not a gimme (no Championship encounter ever is) but this fixture does pit a seriously in-form team against opponents who are spending much of their time soul-searching, pre-occupied with fixing an alarming defensive record.
Seeing Boro at an odds-against price of 2.12 does appeal, even if they are away from home.
I consider Middlesbrough a strong fancy to maintain momentum at Ashton Gate.
PLYMOUTH’S GOAL POWER CAN OVERIDE THE GILLS’ NEW MANAGER BOUNCE
Gillingham have looked considerably more motivated and well organised since Neil Harris took charge, conceding just two goals in four games. Not bad when you consider they were smashed 7-2 by Oxford United the game before ‘Chopper’ parked up In Kent.
Harris’ sole defeat until this point was a 1-0 reverse at Ipswich Town – and there was no shame in that – but it follows a pattern that’s seen them struggle against League 1’s leading lights this term.
Gillingham have lost all seven home games against top-half teams, with five of those losses by more than goal at the Priestfield Stadium.
Overall, they have amassed just five points from a possible 51 when facing those who are currently sat inside the Top 12.
New regime or not I’d imagine that kind of record is hard to shunt to the back of your mind ahead of a clash against sixth-placed, play-off chasing Plymouth Argyle.
Steven Schumacher’s men, who ran Chelsea so close in the FA Cup, have won three on the spin and play with great freedom on their travels.
Away from home they are the division’s top scorers.
Since Boxing Day Argyle have experienced five road trips in League 1, scoring 14 goals in the process of claiming three wins and a draw.
Much of that is down to their firepower. Six players have produced seven or more direct goal involvements this season, with Ryan Hardie (12) and Luke Jephcott (8) the leading marksmen.
Fit-again Niall Ennis has also added something extra to their armoury, so the Devonians are very well stocked when it comes to goal threats.
While Harris has drilled his new team very well out of possession, you sense it would still be a considerable achievement for them to shut out Plymouth this Saturday.
On the ball Gillingham are also rather limited, fashioning just 11 goals from open play in League 1 since the campaign began back in August.
It should be a less one-sided fixture than it might have been a few weeks ago but Plymouth Argyle have to be considered worthy favourites.
After all there are 27 points between the two teams right now, with the promotion hopefuls also playing two games less.
A price of 2.16 with Matchbook on the away win definitely catches my eye. If they don’t see off the Gills it would be considered a real surprise.
Middlesbrough to beat Bristol City (2.12)
Plymouth Argyle to beat Gillingham (2.16)
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