A home hat-trick beckons for Villa
Aston Villa v Cardiff
Turning draws into victories has been a problem for Aston Villa this season but they have won their last couple at home and can land the hat-trick against Cardiff.
Villa, a woefully low 16th in the Sky Bet Championship for a squad of their ability, have drawn ten of their 17 league matches since relegation but things should improve now Steve Bruce has replaced Roberto Di Matteo.
Bruce knows how to get out of this division – he has done it four times – and Villa were excellent in the 1-1 draw at Brighton last time out.
Neil Warnock is doing solid work at Cardiff, but the Bluebirds have gone 16 matches without a clean sheet and have lost eight of their last 13 games.
1pt 10-11 Hills
Northampton v Bolton
They came up as champions from Sky Bet League Two and Northampton started this season well but things have gone downhill fairly rapidly for the Cobblers.
Northampton have won only three of their 12 matches since October as Rob Page’s side have slipped to 15th in the table.
Those three triumphs came against rock-bottom Shrewsbury, non-leaguers Harrow in the FA Cup and a Bury side who have lost their last nine league outings.
The defensive solidity which typified Northampton for the majority of 2016 has disappeared and their last clean sheet in division three came against ten-man Southend 11 fixtures ago.
Plays of the day
Man Utd 1-2
Jose Mourinho has had problems since heading to Manchester but United’s performances have been decent at Old Trafford and the manager was quite right to suggest Stoke, Burnley and Arsenal were lucky to leave with a point each. West Ham’s awful defensive record could get even worse.
This is nothing against Carlisle but visiting Mansfield have put in two really solid performances since Steve Evans became manager.
Man Utd 1-2, Portsmouth 4-7, Torino 3-4, Seville 3-4, Dortmund 4-6 Hills
BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE
Games at Watford 7-9, Gillingham 11-14, Hamburg 8-13188Bet
T Lemar 10-1 Paddy Power
The Monaco youngster continues to impress with seven goals in 16 outings this season and double-figure odds to open the scoring against a limited Marseille side look way too large.
Northampton were unlucky to lose 1-0 to Peterborough last week but there was nothing unfortunate about the defeat by the same score at Bradford on Tuesday. The shot count was 18-6 in favour of Bradford (8-3 on target) and the corners 14-0.
Northampton have conceded first eight times this season and their record reads one draw and seven defeats which does not bode well for today’s clash with fast-starting Bolton.
Wanderers failed to score in a defeat at Posh but they have won their other seven matches in a red-hot spell which saw them break the deadlock before the 18th minute on six occasions.
Phil Parkinson’s side are solid defensively and Zach Clough’s touch of class usually makes the difference in the final third.
Bolton draw no bet
1pt 8-11 general
Swindon v Bradford
Parkinson’s former club Bradford are going along nicely and this looks an ideal opportunity to collect another victory against a Swindon side who were battered in Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at Southend.
Robins keeper Lawrence Vigouroux was the man of the match in midweek and the hosts have a stack of injury problems.
Skipper Nathan Thompson and Bradley Barry are out, Conor Thomas is suspended and there are doubts over key men Michael Doughty and Yaser Kasim.
1pt 23-20 bet365, Hills
Walsall v Southend
Southend are seven unbeaten in the league during which time they have taken four points off Bradford, and United should have no fears travelling to Walsall.
The Saddlers are flimsy at the back and Southend’s players seem more comfortable since Phil Brown reverted to a 4-4-2 shape having tried a 3-4-3 formation that often resembled 5-4-1.
Southend draw no bet
1pt Evs general
Portsmouth v Stevenage
Pompey have put in two superb away performances at Cheltenham – where a 1-1 draw flattered the hosts – and a 3-1 victory at Luton, where even the home fans were impressed by the visitors.
Paul Cook’s men sometimes get the Fratton Park jitters but all five home league wins have been by at least two goals which makes them perfect handicap material.
Stevenage have been okay this season to sit 16th but they have been away to only one current top-seven side in Sky Bet League Two and that ended in a 5-2 defeat at Grismby.
Portsmouth -1 Asian handicap
2pts 19-20 188Bet