Back to Back to Back weekend clean sweeps for Adrian Clarke (31/46 +67% on the season) – What’s he got in store for us this weekend?
I really hope you’ve been on board with my recent picks. For three weekends in a row, both selections have landed from this column, so let’s keep that ball rolling, shall we? Today I’m tipping up a straightforward winner in League 2, but we start with a Championship goals angle…
EXPECTING MORE END OF SEASON ENTERTAINMENT IN WEST LONDON
Every year certain late-season fixtures immediately scream ‘fun’ and that’s the case with Queens Park Rangers versus Norwich City.
The Super Hoops have been enjoying themselves of late, that’s for sure. Instead of settling for nondescript mid-table obscurity Mark Warburton’s side has kicked on, winning seven of their last 11 Championship fixtures.
Performing with renewed energy and attacking intent QPR have scored in all but one of those contests and suddenly find themselves giddy with excitement in eighth!
It’s a liberated style that’s led to some cracking games.
Six of their last eight matches have seen three goals or more, and at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium, the last three fixtures have produced an aggregate of 12 goals.
Having a blast, with the pressure well and truly off, I fully expect QPR to ‘go for it again when already promoted Norwich City rock up in west London this weekend.
Norwich City are the champions-elect, and over the course of 2020-21, Daniel Farke’s men have been sensational.
Playing a brand of fluent, attractive football, they have easily been the division’s star turns – and with 14 away victories (the most by three), they are expert in the art of picking off home teams.
They arrive with a bit of a point to prove too.
Since securing promotion, they have lost twice at home (to Bournemouth and Watford) with red cards and injuries, particularly at the back, hurting them. At the risk of deflating the mood completely, Norwich will not want to lose three on the spin, so I expect them to approach this game with genuine intent.
While Hoops defender Rob Dickie is in brilliant form, I am not sure the defenders around him can hold Teemu Pukki, Emi Buendia and Todd Cantwell at bay.
The patched-up nature of the Canaries’ back four will encourage QPR, too, though, so a BTTS angle is something to consider.
My eyes are drawn most to Over 2.5 goals.
There are goal threats everywhere you look and neither defence is in tip-top shape at the moment.
With the pressure off, I’m anticipating a lovely game of football that should be fun to watch.
My selection is Over 2.5 goals at 1.73.
GET THE PROMOTION PARTY STARTED AT THE ABBEY!
Cambridge United are one of the stories of the EFL season.
No one was forecasting a promotion push for Mark Bonner’s low budget underdogs, but victory at home to Stevenage on Saturday will guarantee them third-tier football next term for the first time since 2002.
Over the course of the campaign, the U’s have blossomed. No longer just tough to play against, they are now delivering a classy style of passing football that blends well with their natural League 2 grit.
Bonner’s side were shocked by a 4-1 home defeat to Exeter City a fortnight ago, but the response to that setback has been terrific.
They have since won awkward matches at Newport County and Leyton Orient to put themselves on the brink of a well-deserved promotion this weekend.
Cambridge boast the division’s top scorer Paul Mullin, who has netted 29 times during an amazing season for him individually. The next closest challenger is on 19.
His striker partner Joe Ironside also has 17, and it’s their fine work together at the top of the pitch that has helped their points tally continue to tick over. Behind them, the evergreen Wes Hoolahan, who was rested in midweek, provides the craft and guile that many of their rivals have lacked.
I like Stevenage a lot, and they deserve great credit for recovering brilliantly from a bad start, but it will be hard for them to throw a spanner in the works on Saturday.
They make the short trip from Hertfordshire on the back of three successive losses, and aside from playing for pride, they don’t have anywhere near the same level of motivation to win.
Stevenage are strong defensively but struggle to score goals. Away to the top-half sides, Alex Revell’s side has not scored more than one goal in a game all season.
If Cambridge’s front men are in the mood it could be goodnight for the visitors.
Winning just once on the road to anyone inside the Top 12, it would be a major upset if Stevenage were to spoil the party at The Abbey Stadium.
The price is attractive on a home win too.
For a clash where the highly motivated league leaders face opponents with nothing to play for, I’d expect Cambridge to be far shorter than 2.1 shots.
I’d have backed Bonner’s boys regardless but to get more than even money on them, I’m sold.
- QPR v Norwich City Over 2.5 goals 1.73
- Cambridge United to beat Stevenage 2.1
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