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Monday, 21 January, 2019

Back Bolton to bag a hat-trick of wins

Saturday's best Sky Bet Football League bets

Bolton centre-backs David Wheater and Mark Beevers
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Sky Bet Football League
3pm Saturday

Bolton v Northampton
Bolton have got their promotion bid back on track in recent matches and they can make it a hat-trick of Sky Bet League One wins by beating Northampton at the Macron Stadium.

The loss of Zach Clough to Nottingham Forest was a major blow to the Trotters, whose win percentage drops from 68 per cent with the talented young forward down to 32 when he has been absent.

However, Bolton have found a solution thanks to the arrivals of Adam Le Fondre and Filipe Morais, both of whom have made telling contributions in the recent high-scoring victories at Fleetwood (4-2) and Gillingham (4-0).

Morais made all four goals at Gillingham and Le Fondre has three goals in two, so the attacking spark looks back for a side who have been excellent defensively for most of the season.

Mark Beevers and David Wheater are seen as the best centre-back pairing in the league and the lung-busting midfield runs of Darren Pratley were sorely missed during his long spell out injured.

Phil Parkinson's third-placed side are solid all over the pitch and should justify odds-on quotes against Northampton.

The Cobblers have taken advantage of some easy fixtures to win three on the spin themselves, thanks in part to late goals from veteran Matt Taylor in the victories over AFC Wimbledon and Port Vale.

Perhaps a better guide to the kind of test facing Justin Edinburgh's men came in last month's trip to Fleetwood which ended in a 3-0 reverse for Northampton.

1pt 5-6 general

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Fleetwood v AFC Wimbledon
A win for Bolton may not be enough to get them back into the automatic positions in League One, however, as second-placed Fleetwood look worth backing at odds-against to beat AFC Wimbledon.

It was always going to be interesting to see how Uwe Rosler's men would react to losing their 18-match unbeaten run against Bolton but they were excellent in beating Walsall 1-0.

Walsall did not have a shot on target and that solid defensive work has given the Cod Army a chance of promotion

Bolton and Sheffield United concede on average only 3.4 shots on target per game and otherwise only Millwall (3.6) are superior to well-organised Fleetwood (3.8).

The prices for this game suggest there would not be much between Fleetwood and the Wombles at a neutral venue but the hosts are comfortably better on the shot stats and are 17 points above Wimbledon in the table.

It won't be long before bookmakers start hammering these teams who need to win and it will be difficult to get with them at artificially short odds but that urgency has already begun without it being reflected in the match prices.

Mid-table Wimbledon had their biggest game of the season on Tuesday - a 2-0 win over bitter rivals MK Dons - and Neal Ardley has a tough job on his hands to lift the squad so soon after everything was left out on the pitch just days ago.

Emotionally and physically a trip to Highbury with nothing but pride to play for may be a step too far for the Wombles.

1pt 11-10 bet365, Betfair, Betway

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Wigan v Aston Villa
Home advantage does not appear to mean a great deal to Wigan - they have won only four times at the DW Stadium this season - and interim boss Graham Barrow could be the latest Latics manager to suffer defeat in front of his own supporters.

Wigan have not scored in four of their last five home games and responsibility for avoiding relegation falls on Barrow following this week’s departure of Warren Joyce.

Draws won't do any more and Wigan's need for victories may help Aston Villa land another Sky Bet Championship win.

It feels a happier camp following four triumphs in five and Steve Bruce's huge squad surgery in January is starting to bear fruit.

Central to that is the classy Conor Hourihane and with Henri Lansbury and Scott Hogan ready to return from injury there is much more positivity about Villa.

Jonathan Kodjia has scored four goals in his last four matches and that is the kind of firepower that is sorely missing in the home ranks.

Wigan's top scorer Will Grigg remains sidelined and next-best is four-goal Yanic Wildschut who joined Norwich in January.

Aston Villa
1pt 31-20 general

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Plays of the day

Doncaster 6-10
Rovers are romping away with the Sky Bet League Two title and take on a Leyton Orient side who are in a shocking state. Bottom and fighting to stay in business, Orient have lost five of their last six.

Hoffenheim 5-4
Bayer Leverkusen have good players. The table would mainly suggest otherwise but they have won only one game fewer than Hoffenheim, who are draw specialists with 12 this season.

Arsenal 13-18, Bristol Rovers 8-15, Doncaster 7-12, Roma 2-7 188Bet

Both teams to score
Games at Bournemouth 6-10, Crewe 4-5, Stevenage 10-11, Betfair

M Rashford 5-1
With Zlatan Ibrahimovic suspended, United will presumably turn once again to Marcus Rashford. He looked sharp despite being ill against Chelsea and looks a worthy first-goalscorer favourite.

Thought for the week

A few things annoyed me.

1 Talk of Pep being too attacking
Had Manchester City played with more defensive players they would have qualified for the Champions League quarter-finals - this has been said almost so often in the past few days it has become fact.

The problem with City's first-half performance was they were too passive and Yaya Toure's exclusion had nothing to do with that.

When City were on the front foot in the second half with their excellent attacking players making telling contributions they played well and could quite easily have gone through.

2 The away-goals rule is rubbish
The away-goals rule was used years ago to encourage teams to attack but in modern football most teams do that anyway.

City scored six goals and Monaco scored six goals, so just play extra-time. The Sky Bet Football League playoffs don't use away goals to separate sides and those ties are usually brilliant.

3 Schedule makes it tough for English clubs
Most leagues around Europe will do everything to help their clubs in Uefa competitions, with Friday and Monday night matches available on request, but Manchester United were in action on Thursday and will be back out at noon on Sunday.

On this rare occasion Jose Mourinho is right to have a moan, unlike his bizarre rants aimed at Paul Pogba's critics.

I presume Mourinho is so angry because deep down he knows he should be getting much more out of such a world-class talent.

Phil Parkinson's third-placed side are solid all over the pitch and should justify odds-on quotes against Northampton
E.W. Terms
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