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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Hawthorns form can continue for West Brom against Millwall

Luton appeal for Blackpool trip

Dwight Gayle is banging in the goals for West Brom
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3pm Saturday

West Brom v Millwall

Home is where the heart is for West Brom and the free-scoring Baggies can continue their Hawthorns supremacy with a sixth straight home success in all competitions when Millwall visit in the Sky Bet Championship.

Albion were hit by a culture shock on the opening day, losing 2-1 at home to Bolton as they struggled to get their squad sorted quickly following Premier League relegation, but QPR, Stoke and Bristol City have since been turned over in the league and they overcame Luton and Mansfield in the EFL Cup.

It's not just the wins but the manner of their victories which have impressed. QPR were smashed for seven, Bristol City were three down at the break and Stoke were fortunate to escape with just a one-goal loss with the Baggies often rampant.

Darren Moore's men are blessed in the final third where Jay Rodriguez combines excellently with Dwight Gayle and in behind is Harvey Barnes to wreak havoc in a fluid 3-4-1-2 formation.

West Brom find it more difficult on the road - although they did score four at Norwich - but at the Hawthorns their philosophy of playing out from the back and pummelling opponents is working well.

Four-goal Gayle is often prolific at this level having been typecast as a player who can't quite cut it in the Premier League, unlike five-goal Rodriguez who really should be in the top flight. Barnes, on loan from Leicester, will be in the Premier League soon enough.

Millwall started the season well but have taken one point from their last five matches and usually rely on their intimidating atmosphere at the Den to make up for a shortfall of individual quality.

It may not be a coincidence that Millwall have dipped since George Saville, their all-action midfielder, departed for Middlesbrough and they will do well to avoid a fourth straight away defeat, particularly as they have had 24 hours fewer to prepare for this contest.

The last of those road defeats came at QPR on Wednesday when Rangers had nine shots on target to Millwall's two.

West Brom
2pts 3-4 general

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Blackpool v Luton

Luton are better, much better in fact, than the League One table suggests and the 11th-placed Hatters are worth backing to obtain a positive result from their trip to Blackpool.

Quite apart from anything else, Luton have had it rough on the fixtures, visiting Portsmouth (first), Peterborough (second) and Doncaster (fifth) as well as hosting fourth-placed Sunderland.

Outside of that Nathan Jones has seen his team win at home to Shrewsbury, Southend and Bristol Rovers and pick up a point at Wycombe.

The Rovers performance was excellent as Luton dominated the key performance indicators with 57 per cent possession and they won the shot count 18-3 and the shots-on-target battle 10-0.

Soon enough Luton will give somebody a good thrashing and they would love it to come at Bloomfield Road as Blackpool beat Town in a feisty playoff semi-final in 2017.

Blackpool have suffered only one league defeat this term but that came at home to leaders Portsmouth. Otherwise the Seasiders have had a nice run of fixtures and face a step up in class for this one.

Luton draw no bet
1pt 4-5 Betfred, Sky Bet

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Bury v Carlisle

John Sheridan reckons Carlisle produced their best performance of the season in the 2-0 home loss to Tranmere but opponents Bury know all about fine margins and with a bit more fortune the Shakers would be even higher up than seventh in League Two.

They conceded an injury-time goal at MK Dons having deserved at least a point and also outplayed leaders Lincoln at Sincil Bank for 75 minutes before a red card to Will Aimson changed a 1-0 lead to a 2-1 defeat.

Bury were also 2-1 up at Crawley before a late collapse and the signs were clear that they should start racking up the wins. They have been victorious in each of their last three and totally dominated Swindon in last week's 2-1 success.

Former Carlisle winger Nicky Adams is causing problems as a wing-back for Bury, who can also call upon the classy Danny Mayor and the Shakers can make it four on the spin against a Carlisle side missing skipper Danny Grainger.

1pt 4-5 BoyleSports

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Plays of the day

West Brom 3-4
The Baggies are the Championship's top goalscorers with 20 goals and are capable of blitzing opponents at the Hawthorns.

Southend Evs
Fleetwood have a few injury doubts, but the move for Southend, who have lost their last three league games and conceded seven goals in the process, may have gone too far earlier this week. 

Middlesbrough 7-10, West Brom 3-4, Portsmouth 4-6, Bury 4-5 BoyleSports

Both teams to score
Games at Aston Villa 9-10, Reading 4-5, Northampton 4-6 Betfair

Thought for the week

Much has been made of the lack of playing time given to English players - Ruben Loftus-Cheek even failed to come off the bench in Chelsea's Europa League clash on Thursday - but Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate will hopefully tune into the Bundesliga this season.

Hoffenheim host Borussia Dortmund on Saturday with the potential for two of England's brightest young talents playing in one of Europe's top leagues against each other with 18-year-olds Reiss Nelson and Jadon Sancho both making waves in the Bundesliga.

Nelson, on loan from Arsenal, scored an excellently taken goal for Hoffenheim last week and Sancho continually makes a difference when appearing for Dortmund, to the extent he needs to be fast-tracked into the England senior squad.

It was disappointing to see Southgate and his number two Steve Holland scouting Sky Bet Championship games in midweek when Sancho was in Champions League action.

Watch him. Pick him and show other young English players that there is a pathway to the national team by taking the bold step to move away from the Premier League's bloated squads. 

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Bury have been victorious in each of their last three and dominated Swindon in last week's 2-1 success
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