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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Pieces are falling into place for Southend

Wise wagers from football's top tipster

Middlesbrough's George Friend
1 of 1

Wycombe v Southend 3pm Saturday
Southend beat Wycombe on penalties in the Sky Bet League Two playoff final in May 2015 and while the stakes won't be as high at Adams Park on Saturday the Essex side could come out on top again.

Chris Powell's side are better than their 16th place in the League One table suggests and confidence will have returned with a dominant 1-0 win over Fleetwood last time out following a difficult start to the season which has seen United take on many of the division's highflyers.

Southend now enter a more favourable set of of assignments just in time for the return of key men Mike Oxley, Michael Kightly, Harry Bunn and Dru Yearwood from suspension and injuries.

Powell's switch to a back three seemed to work well against Fleetwood, who had no shots on target.

Michael Turner is the kind of robust centre-half who won't be daunted by Wycombe's physical approach and the same can also be said for central midfielder Timothee Dieng.

Simon Cox brings a touch of class to proceedings and Southend can at least avoid defeat against Wycombe, who unlike their visitors, were involved in midweek action with a draining 4-3 cup defeat to Norwich.

Wanderers have been competitive in most of their games this season apart from a 3-0 tonking at Doncaster and are always fired-up under Gareth Ainsworth, but they have won only once since gaining promotion from League Two last season. 

Southend draw no bet
2pts 9-10 Betfair


Hull v Middlesbrough 3pm Saturday
Nigel Adkins is a positive man - one of his main strengths as a manager is the way he attempts to lift players - so you know things are bad when he described Hull's 3-0 defeat at Reading as "terrible" and labelled the performance "nowhere near".

Hull were always entertaining last season, scoring 70 goals which was joint-fourth best in the Sky Bet Championship behind Wolves, Fulham and Aston Villa, but they conceded the same amount.

Only four teams shipped more and Hull lost most of their firepower in the summer so it always looked likely to be a term of struggle.

The Tigers have been unable to show their teeth in attack, scoring just nine goals in nine league games, and they have also failed to upgrade their defence, conceding 16 times.

That's 13 more goals against than miserly Middlesbrough, who made it seven clean sheets in nine games with last week's bore draw with Swansea.

Boro lacked potency in the final third with Tony Pulis complaining of tired limbs in his side. That won't be a problem after his first team were given the night off for Tuesday's League Cup triumph at Preston and one goal is usually enough for the Teessiders to triumph.

1pt 6-5 Hills, 188Bet

MK Dons v Tranmere 3pm Saturday
There were two divisions between MK Dons and Tranmere last season and that gulf could be apparent at the full-time whistle.

Milton Keynes have been left gutted by late lapses in recent League Two away matches, losing 2-1 at Lincoln and drawing 1-1 at Yeovil, but their performances suggest a return to winning ways is close.

In those two games they won the shots-on-target count by an aggregate 15-9 and it should be only a matter of time before Paul Tisdale's controlled football brings rewards.

Tranmere have settled nicely with James Norwood becoming a regular scorer, but their tally of seven away goals from 13 shots on target is probably unsustainable.

Tuesday's trip to Yeovil was not ideal for the Dons, although they have decent depth to the squad with Chuks Aneke, Robbie Simpson and Joe Walsh among those on the bench in midweek.

MK Dons
1pt Evs general

Lille v Marseille 8pm Sunday
Lille, who are flying on shot and expected-goal metrics, have won six of their last seven home matches and can test a weakened Marseille in the big Ligue 1 contest of the weekend.

Marseille are missing suspended defenders Duje Caleta-Car and Jordan Amavi, while centre-back Adil Rami is doubtful.

Lille draw no bet
1pt 5-4 bet365

Langdon's top plays

Brentford 1-2
The Bees need to sort out their away form to be considered automatic promotion challengers but they are ace at Griffin Park and should maintain their perfect home record against Reading.

Arsenal 1-2
Only Joe Hart and Lukasz Fabianski have made more saves than Petr Cech this season, which shows just how vulnerable Arsenal are and the risk involved in backing them at short odds against Watford. 

Brentford 1-2, PSG 1-3, Inter 1-3, Real Betis 8-11 Coral 

Both teams to score
Games at Walsall 8-11, Swindon 8-11, Sassuolo 4-6 Betfair

Thought for the week

There has been plenty going on at Old Trafford this week with the League Cup exit and talk of a bust-up between Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba, but perhaps the most worrying sign came last Saturday during the 1-1 draw with Wolves.

Mourinho said afterwards: "Wolves play like I like to play, which is like the World Cup final. That is the attitude I like my teams to have in every match. We didn't have that."

It was not a superior attitude, rather a superior framework. Wolves have a system, a style of play and a process under Nuno which comes about from excellent coaching. United don't have any of that.

United's expensive squad will win them a certain amount of matches but they don't seem to have a plan of how they are supposed to play and that's why they are struggling for consistency in performances.

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The Tigers have been unable to show their teeth in attack, scoring just nine goals in nine league games
E.W. Terms
Sky bet