Stick with the Brewers for first win of the season
Gillingham v Burton Albion
My instinct to go against the Opta Stats with Burton last week failed. Not by much in the 0-1 defeat to Ipswich, but it meant we didn't even make "humble start" status. I wasn't too disheartened by the performance of the Brewers, though, and one or two encouraging aspects of their play from Saturday make me want to get involved again.
However, the Opta folk again can insert the caveat emptor with the bet, as Burton have failed to pick up a point in their opening two games in each of the past three seasons. Stats are there to be broken and all that....
The price of the visitors at around 2.608/5 is just about acceptable, and that's probably more to do with the fact that I am not won over yet by Gillingham. It's early days, yes, but I made my stance last weekend, and it's no time for a u-turn in the space of the week.
Playing away from home could suit Nigel Clough's side, as they usually play the ball with their pass and move style. Ipswich basically "done a number" on them last Saturday by adopting the high-press. It stifled Burton's game and the two ended up cancelling each other out with hardly a shot on goal.
Clough will have a poser whether to stick with the 4-3-1-2 he started with against Paul Lambert's side, or twist with the 4-3-3 (which I prefer). Burton done a lot right against Ipswich, although they will be missing Stephen Quinn - who serves a one-match suspension.
Steve Evans' Gillingham earned a 1-1 against Doncaster Rovers and enjoyed their best spell in the first half. They also have a decent record according to Opta at the start of the season at the Priestfield; winning six of their last eight opening home games.
Take a chance on the outsider of the two - but with few goals
Bristol Rovers v Wycombe Wanderers
There are a number of tricky fixtures this Saturday, and this is one of them. These two endured rather mixed fortunes on the opening day. Wycombe started with a 2-0 victory against Bolton, although considering the opposition, that game is hard to gauge. Bristol Rovers suffered a reverse however with a 2-0 loss at Blackpool - a defeat that left boss Graham Coughlan devastated.
My gut feeling here is that the visitors are overpriced at 3.45 compared to the Rovers' odds of 2.265/4. That is a little short, although I suspect the numbers from last season
are heavily in the minds of those that like to get in early to form the markets. Wycombe were awful last season on the road with just four victories (the joint-lowest tally in the League One). The Gas however boasted the fifth best defensive record in the division.
But that 2.265/4 is short considering they have a new defensive set-up, and those defensive errors cost them badly with two mistakes last Saturday. C'est la vie in the third tier; most defences make mistakes at this level.
This can go either two ways. The crowds and atmosphere at the Memorial is up there with the likes of Portsmouth in terms of support, but a nervy start (or a bad one) changes that. Wycombe will also be keen to address last term's catalogue of horrors on the road (they conceded 41 times), so they'll want to give nothing away in the opening 20 to 30 minutes and be tight.
Gareth Ainsworth's side won this fixture 0-1 last term, and that was a horrible, scrappy affair. It could be that type of match again, which leads me to a bet on the Under 2.5 market. We'll also go with our first Draw No Bet of the season on the visitors.
New season, same old Sunderland
Ipswich Town v Sunderland
There's no doubt about the big ticket in town with Ipswich entertaining Sunderland this weekend. And there was never any doubt that the Black Cats were going to be priced up as the favourites.
The 2.506/4 is not quite as short as some of the away prices from last season, but then they didn't travel to Ipswich.
Sunderland fans must have felt like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day last Saturday. The Achilles' heel double of the 1-1 and the draw popped up with the home draw against Oxford. It may be a new season, but they started with the same problem. In 2018/19 they were held an astonishing 19 times, although bizarrely they recorded their third straight 1-1 against Oxford in 11 months.
I was too slow to latch on to the Sunderland 1-1 last season, but that's certainly an angle to explore by backing the Correct Score throughout the campaign. The 6.806/1 on offer for that seems reasonable, as I doubt this will be a high-scoring number.
Ipswich were without nine senior players last Saturday, and got a lucky goal in a tight game at Burton (as mentioned above), and the 2.829/5 outright makes less appeal than the Draw No Bet. Sunderland are overrated and are missing players too; with Duncan Watmore, Charlie Wyke and Ethan Robson nursing knocks.
The Black Cats didn't create many chances against Oxford, and neither did Ipswich at Burton. I'll take the Draw.
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