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Monday, 10 December, 2018

Improving Plymouth should light up Blackpool

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Pilgrim Pete cheers on his beloved Plymouth
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English Football League
Kick-offs 3pm Saturday

Blackpool v Plymouth
Sky Bet League One strugglers Plymouth have been on the up for a couple of months and it is hard to see how they can be odds-against to take at least a point against Blackpool at Bloomfield Road.

Argyle have lost just two of their last 12 league matches and taken ten points from a possible 12 in December.

They have opened up a four-point gap to the drop zone and are just a point below Blackpool, who haven't won in eight games.

Plymouth play a pragmatic style of football, sitting deep and looking to take advantage of counter-attacks and set-pieces, and they often seem to be underrated by the markets.

It hasn't always worked for them but the October acquisition of midfielder Toumani Diagouraga, a former Championship player, has made a huge difference, as has the recent return from injury of centre-forward Ryan Taylor.

Blackpool caught the eye on the statistics when losing 3-2 at home to injury-hit Scunthorpe on Tuesday,winning the shot count 25 to three, but they were always chasing the game after falling 2-0 down inside eight minutes.

They are on a poor run and are crying out to be opposed at odds-on prices.

Plymouth or draw double chance
3pts 11-10 Betfair, Sky Bet

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Sky Bet League One standings

Burton v Norwich
Norwich need to put a run together soon to make an impact on the Sky Bet Championship promotion race and they can make it six points from six this week with a victory at Burton.

Five of Norwich's eight league victories have come on the road and away games in the second tier don't come any easier than trips to Burton.

No team in the top four divisions have suffered more home defeats than the Brewers, who have lost nine times out of 12 at the Pirelli Stadium.

Burton's 2-1 loss to Leeds on Tuesday was their eighth successive defeat on home soil and left them just one point above the drop zone.

Success for a club of Burton's size is staying in the division and prior to the Leeds defeat they had picked up a couple of encouraging away wins at Bolton (1-0) and Reading (2-1).

They tend to set up defensively in away games and can sometimes frustrate their opponents.

But the home fans want to see more positive play and in their efforts to provide it Burton are leaving themselves open at the back.

Burton have shipped 27 goals in 12 home league games this season and they are the division's second-lowest scorers, lacking the firepower to fight back.

Norwich are far from the toughest opponents they will face this season but the Canaries were convincing 2-0 winners at Birmingham on Tuesday and should be just as comfortable against another struggling side.

3pts 23-20 Betfair

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Sky Bet Championship standings

Ipswich v Derby

Derby have collected 13 points from a possible 15 in December and can complete a highly satisfactory month's work by defeating Ipswich at Portman Road.

Getting consistent performances at this time of year can be tough and Derby were below par when drawing 0-0 at Hull on Tuesday.

On the balance of play they were slightly fortunate to draw against the Tigers but their defensive resilience shone through.

Gary Rowett will want more from his attacking players but has fantastic options with Matej Vydra, David Nugent, Tom Lawrence, Chris Martin and Sam Winnall jostling for places.

Derby's midfield didn't function to its maximum against Hull but they may do better against Ipswich, who are struggling for players in the centre of the pitch.

Teddy Bishop, Emyr Huws, Cole Skuse and Flynn Downes are all sidelined and there is a huge responsibility on the shoulders of Everton loanee Callum Connolly and Kevin Bru, who has been brought back in from the cold to help cope with the injury crisis.

In general Ipswich have been more competitive than their supporters might have feared but injuries are holding them back at a time when Mick McCarthy needs all hands on deck.

The Tractor Boys drew 0-0 at home to QPR in a game described as 'a horrible turgid scrap' by McCarthy and they look there for the taking.

2pts 7-5 Betfair

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Sky Bet Championship standings

Cheltenham v Newport

Cheltenham surprisingly lost 1-0 at home to Yeovil on Tuesday but six of their eight Sky Bet League Two wins have come at Whaddon Road and they can get another against Newport.

Gary Johnson's side are eight points adrift of the playoffs and can edge a little close at the expense of tenth-placed County, who are without key suspended duo Mark O'Brien and Joss Labadie.

2pts 6-5 Betfair, Coral, Hills

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Sky Bet League Two standings 

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Derby's midfield didn't function to its maximum against Hull but they may do better against Ipswich
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