Fresh on the back of a resounding midweek triumph in the Champions League where both tips landed, sustaining a rich vein of tipping form, attention now turns to the weekend's domestic action.
Liverpool WIN HT/FT v Roma @ 13/10 (CORRECT)
Liverpool to be winning 2-0 at HT @ 13/2 (CORRECT)
With promotions, play-off spots, and relegations yet to be decided, much is at stake for many sides and another engaging fixture list awaits, here are my picks.
Huddersfield v Everton Correct Score Singles:
Huddersfield 0-0 Everton @ 11/2 (William Hill)
Huddersfield 1-1 Everton @ 13/2 (William Hill)
In light of Huddersfield's remaining fixtures against Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal, Huddersfield will view this fixture against Everton as their best opportunity to steer clear of the relegation zone and put to rest any lingering relegation fears. However, I don't think Sam Allardyce's Everton will simply roll over here, with just 1 defeat in 6 (Man City), they've been defending well of late. I expect this to be a stubborn and gritty affair with little quarter afforded each way. Over the past month Huddersfield have been involved in plenty of tight matches, their win against Watford was courtesy of a 91st minute winner, while their defeat at Newcastle came late. Given the circumstances and recent form I'm happy to play a low scoring draw here.
Newcastle v West Brom DRAW @ 13/5 (Bet365)
Rafael Benitez has won many plaudits for his achievements this season, loosely based around the perception Newcastle's playing squad is quite average. Despite this, I think it's a little easy to get carried away, Newcastle are only sitting on 41 points, and a stronger performance from other sides below them could easily have spelled a gruelling relegation battle. Darren Moore's short stint at the West Brom helm has produced far more positives than negatives, and organisationally they look far more compact and disciplined. It was refreshing to see the level of character and fight displayed against Manchester United and Liverpool in spite of their impending drop to the Championship. With sights on potentially getting the job on a full-time basis, Moore will be demanding the same level of commitment from his players over the next couple of weeks. I'm backing them to grind out a draw against a Newcastle side who may have seen their confidence dented against Everton on Monday night.
Reading v Ipswich - Reading to win by 1 goal margin @ 11/4 (SkyBet)
Mathematically at least, Reading aren't quite safe of the dreaded drop, but it would take plenty of freak occurrences to resign them to such an outcome, with bookies currently taking around 100/1 on them being relegated to the third tier. It's been a rapid decline for a Reading side who managed the impressive feat of getting to the play-off final last year, and only lost on penalties. With Mick McCarthy's presence in the Ipswich dugout no longer a facet of Championship life, Ipswich are using the latter part of the campaign to trial their burgeoning youth prospects, most likely at the expense of results. Ipswich have lost by a 1 goal margin in 8 away games this season, including their last 4 consecutive away games. 3 of those defeats came against teams who were out of form and struggling for momentum, and Reading certainly fit into that category. In addition this, taking into account Reading's fairly recent 1-0 home wins against QPR and Preston, I'm going for the angle on Reading to win by a 1 goal margin.
Wolves v Sheffield Wednesday - Sheffield Wednesday to score exactly 1 goal @ 2/1 (Ladbrokes)
Sheffield Wednesday's recent goal patterns would suggest they have a realistic chance of grabbing a goal against the high flying Wolves, they have conjured an impressive 16 in their last 8 matches. Wolves have admittedly kept 4 consecutive clean sheets, but Wednesday should be looking towards this game as an opportunity to impose themselves offensively. Boasting the likes of Rhodes and Forestieri, they certainly have firepower. Wolves will control the game for large periods and keep possession patiently, but I can see Sheffield Wednesday nicking a goal at Molineux this Saturday. 2/1 presents value in my eyes.
Bristol Rovers WIN v Gillingham (A) @ 6/5 (Coral)
Bristol Rovers have continually shown throughout the last 3 seasons they are a very capable side at home, losing a low frequency of matches, on Saturday they greet a Gillingham side who are very low on confidence themselves. Credit where it's due, Gillingham have done very well in the second half of the season, in the early parts of the season they looked nailed on relegation candidates. Gillingham are winless in 8 (5 L, 3 D), managing to score a very meek 2 goals in the process. Bristol Rovers are finding it problematic in picking up wins also, managing just 2 in their last 12. Rovers are unbeaten in 6 at home, picking up impressive draws against Wigan, Blackburn and Charlton in their last 3 home games. I'm expecting Rovers to go one better and get the win against a confidence shot Gillingham side.
Scunthorpe Draw No Bet v MK Dons (H) @ 8/15 (BetVictor)
Scunthorpe have picked up two excellent wins in recent weeks to massively bolster their chances of sealing a play-off spot. Occupying the last play-off spot, Scunthorpe are closely followed by Plymouth who are 2 points behind, having played the same amount of fixtures. Although a win could prove invaluable for Scunthorpe, a draw would equally keep their fate within their own hands, on the assumption Plymouth win. MK Dons are all but relegated after a disastrous campaign, their fight and determination has been questioned in recent weeks, exemplified by a run of 5 consecutive defeats, conceding 14 goals. Scunthorpe are unbeaten in 5, and don't generally lose many matches away from home. With lots to play for I'm satisfied with plumping for Scunthorpe DNB.
Northampton WIN v Walsall (H) @ 12/5 (BoyleSports)
A couple of weeks ago Northampton looked nailed on certainties to suffer at the hands of relegation, but after two consecutive wins, and a host of other results going their way, there may be light at the end of the tunnel. A game against Walsall presents the perfect opportunity to pick up a win and potentially move out the relegation zone, surpassing Walsall in the process. Walsall have slowly but surely been dragged into the relegation dogfight, and mentally it can be very difficult to push through a situation like this where you are constantly looking over your shoulder. Northampton will be buoyed by their win against Plymouth, and potentially brimming with confidence for this one, coincide that with Walsall's faltering confidence, and I'm inclined to take the odds against value on a Northampton win. It may yet be for Northampton; a great escape, but much will depend on the results of both Rochdale and Oldham.
Accrington Stanley v Lincoln DRAW @ 12/5 (BetVictor)
Accrington Stanley's 15 game unbeaten run came to an end at the hands of Newport in midweek, a minor hiccup amongst the backdrop of a phenomenal campaign, which now see's them needing just a point against Lincoln to lift the title. Lincoln find themselves sitting 6th in the table, their play-off spot can only be dislodged by Mansfield who are currently 6 points behind with a slightly worse goal difference. Lincoln can assure themselves a play-off spot with a draw this weekend. While I do expect both teams to try and win the game, particularly Accrington who will be looking to lift the title on the back of a victory, I can also visualise both sides settling for a point if the spoils are shared late on. A loss for either side would make them potentially vulnerable other results permitting. Lincoln do admittedly still have a slim chance of gaining automatic promotion, but it's very unlikely, much will depend on the results of the 3 teams above them seeking the final automatic promotion spot.
Crewe WIN and BTTS v Crawley (H) @ 9/2 (Betfair)
This fixture marks the meeting of two BTTS specialists facing off against each other, and with it being near the end of the season with little to play for, I can see this BTTS trend continuing. Hopefully this should be a free flowing affair with plenty of chances. Peering over the last couple of months in terms of relative form, Crewe certainly have the upper hand. Since mid February, Crawley have lost 5 games that ended with a BTTS outcome, while in the same period Crewe have won 4 matches with a BTTS outcome, including very notable away day triumphs against Mansfield and Lincoln. Despite Crewe's lowly position in the league, they have shown themselves to be a very dangerous team in recent times, at 9/2 I feel there's great value here.
Words by David Huntingford