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Friday, 18 January, 2019

Oxford can win battle of the hot teams

Best bets from the EFL and beyond

Oxford centre-back Mike Williamson
1 of 1

English Football League
Saturday 3pm

Blackpool v Oxford
Two teams who have each lost only one match in Sky Bet League One do battle but Oxford's excellent run looks more sustainable than hosts Blackpool's and they can prove it at Bloomfield Road.

Oxford have scored more goals than Blackpool and conceded fewer but are two points worse off in the table, although if Pep Clotet's side maintain their performance levels they should be among the promotion candidates this term.

United are riding high in the expected goals table and the shots on target ratio (where only Wigan are superior) with their only league loss coming in a tight match late on at Scunthorpe.

It would have been normal to expect Clotet to need time having replaced Michael Appleton in the summer but things are coming together more quickly than anticipated despite the changes in personnel.

They were outstanding for 25 minutes in the recent 1-1 draw at Milton Keynes Dons and then put in two more complete performances in a 3-0 win over Gillingham and 2-2 draw against Bradford, who scored with their two attempts on target.

Mike Williamson leads an experienced defence, the midfield options are plentiful and playmaker Jack Payne makes Oxford tick behind a lone striker, who is likely to be Wes Thomas with Jon Obika injured.

Blackpool took advantage of Ryan Edwards' red card to beat Plymouth 3-1 on Tuesday, although it would be wrong to overrate that victory even before taking on ten men as Argyle were missing the influential Graham Carey.

This is Blackpool's most difficult home match of the season after beating MK Dons, Oldham and AFC Wimbledon and it could result in their first dropped points at Bloomfield Road.

Oxford draw no bet
1pt 19-20 Coral, Ladbrokes

Blackburn v AFC Wimbledon
Only Northampton are averaging fewer shots on target than Wimbledon in League One and on the road nobody is averaging fewer than their figure of two attempts on goal per game.

That helps to explain why the Wombles have scored just four times in seven fixtures and just once in three away matches. Unless they find a forward threat it will be a difficult campaign and Blackburn can highlight that at Ewood Park.

Last season's top league scorer Lyle Taylor is not off the mark this term, while next best Tom Elliott departed for Millwall and eight-goal Dominic Poleon has been prolific since switching to Bradford.

Jake Reeves also went to Bradford and experienced midfielder Jimmy Abdou remains suspended, and checks needs to be made on defensive stalwart Paul Robinson.

Blackburn's budget is enormous compared to Wimbledon's and after a slow start Rovers have won four league games on the spin by an aggregate 9-1.

Tony Mowbray has not been able to stamp his footballing principles on the squad yet but their sheer quality is getting them through and his decision to pair the mobile Dominic Samuel with Marcus Antonsson up front has made a big difference.

Peter Whittingham, Ben Gladwin, Bradley Dack and Danny Graham were among those on the bench for Tuesday's 1-0 win at Scunthorpe and those options are almost in a different league to Wimbledon's squad choices.

1pt 4-6 general

Read more

Kevin Pullein


Nottingham Forest v Wolves
Wolves had to settle for a point after set-piece woes against Bristol City on Tuesday but some of their football in the final third was outstanding and Nottingham Forest could struggle to keep tabs on the likes of Ruben Neves, Diogo Jota and Ivan Cavaleiro.

Playing away from Molineux may not be an issue for Wolves as they should enjoy space on the counter. Nuno's men have already won at Hull, Derby and Southampton and Brentford boss Dean Smith said Wanderers were the best side they had faced in a 0-0 draw.

Forest's fixtures have tended to be gung-ho affairs with ten goals scored and 11 conceded, but more control will be needed against Wolves, who can kill teams at this level if they are allowed space.

Cardiff successfully roughed up Wolves in a recent 2-1 success, although Forest may not have the players capable of doing a similar nullifying job and if this turns into a pure footballing contest the visitors look better suited to taking maximum points.

1pt 5-4 general

Plays of the day

Blackburn 4-6
The way it is going there could be two divisions between Blackburn and Wimbledon by the start of next season and Blackburn should make it five league wins on the spin.

Eintracht Frankfurt 10-11
Frankfurt have scored one goal in three matches and that came from 29 per cent possession at Gladbach. They don't appeal as great favourites with Augsburg capable of frustrating the hosts.

Brentford 11-10, Wolves 5-4, Blackburn 4-6 bet365

Both teams to score
Games at Bury 7-9, Oldham 68-67, Wigan 9-11 188Bet

Thought for the week

Much has already been said about the rights and wrongs of Cologne's large travelling army who caused such controversy - in some quarters at least - before and during their Europa League clash at Arsenal.

Having only watched on television it would be remiss to talk too much about events specifically at the Emirates but inside the stadium it would not be unusual for Cologne fans to feel comfortable sitting in the home sections.

In German football it is perfectly common for away fans to sit next to home supporters. They can wear their team colours - usually in the form of a scarf - and it largely passes without incident.

Obviously it would not be en masse like Cologne's contingent at Arsenal, and the sections where the ultras stand would normally be avoided, but it is a shame that British football fans are so keen on segregation.

It appears to be based on territory and not having an "end taken" but that does not happen in the Bundesliga, and if two football fans who support different teams can sit next to each other in a pub watching a game why can't they do likewise inside a stadium?

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The way it is going there could be two divisions between Blackburn and Wimbledon by the start of next season
E.W. Terms
Sky bet