Another big game awaits Wycombe this Saturday, and Alan Dudman is backing the League One leaders to gain a result against a back-to-form Sunderland team...
"For all of those positives, the price on the hosts offers little value at 1.9310/11. For a start, Sunderland draw too many games - especially at home with a record of W6 D5."
Black Cats look far too short at odds-on
Sunderland v Wycombe Wanderers
According to Opta, this game has traditionally been a low-scoring affair with few goals. Both fixures ended in a 1-1 last term, and the previous result was a 0-1 victory in favour of the Chairboys. Therefore I wasn't totally surprised to see the Under 2.5 Goals as the shorter of the two on the Thursday. That bet was trading at 1.855/6.
And that's the way Wycombe really have to approach this as their halo had slipped somewhat over a crazy festive period. A bit of parity was restored in their televised 1-1 at home to Ipswich, but the hectic run of games found out a small squad that was stretched already. The good news for the away side is that players are on the way back, with Dominic Gape, Curtis Thompson and Jack Grimmer finding their fitness.
I've not exactly been in the Sunderland corner for the season, but that's a price thing, no more. Anyway, I'm a West Ham fan!
Manager Phil Parkinson was facing all sorts of negativity following a barren run of nine matches, but in the face of adversity it says a lot about the character of Parky, and he's engineered a decent little run at the moment with a five-game unbeaten streak.
They really blew Lincoln City away recently in a 3-1 victory at the Stadium Of Light; a game where they pressed a lot better. Although they had to weather the Imps' physical front two in the second half - but they did.
For all of those positives, the price on the hosts offers little value at 1.9310/11. For a start, Sunderland draw too many games - especially at home with a record of W6 D5. If you are using this game to trade in search of a green book, taking the draw on the outright at 3.613/5 looks the most sensible option as I expect that price to come under most pressure.
Wycombe are certainly overpriced for me at 4.1, and with Gareth Ainsworth's side on five draws for the season away from home, we really should be playing the Double Chance Draw or Away here at around the 2.56/4 mark.
The Correct Score 1-1 is an obvious one to consider at 6.411/2, but that looks a little shorter than the norm.
Sol's Shrimpers are good enough to earn a draw
Southend United v Tranmere Rovers
The figures look pretty horrible in terms of stats for Southend. Opta state that the Shrimpers are winless in 11 home matches this season, and no side in the top four divisions of English football has lost more games (17) or conceded more goals (65) than the Essex club.
And yet they are near favourites here at 2.77/4.
In fact, the market shapes up as a "pick em" match, as Tranmere are 2.6813/8. Neither really appeal, as I tend to take on teams that have just gained a big result in a Cup match. Rovers got just that with a stirring comeback against Premier League Watford last weekend. They were 3-0 down at Vicarage Road and scored three in the second half to earn a replay.
However, their form is poor with just one victory from their last eight league matches.
Southend boss Sol Campbell has certainly made his team harder to beat; but the elusive win is what the former England defender needs. Four draws from their last six includes a pair of 1-1s and 2-2s - so it might be worth exercising the options of backing those two on the Correct Score markets.
Campbell has said his team have turned a corner and are mentally changing and ready for a battle; and I think the value call here is backing the Draw at 3.711/4. It's a match neither dare lose.
Donny can maintain good Christmas form
Bristol Rovers v Doncaster Rovers
It's been all change at the Mem since my last instalment that involved Bristol Rovers. Previous manager Graham Coughlan had done a fine job in taking the club to the playoff places, but his switch to Mansfield in the league below has coincided with a real dip in form.
New manager Ben Garner is still seeking his first win in charge of the club, and for someone with a lack of experience at this level, there will be a few jitters as to when that comes. Rovers have dropped down to eighth in the table, and have been usurped on the playoff-chasing front by Saturday's opponents.
Doncaster are inconsistent, but they head into this match with back-to-back wins and clean sheets following two successes against Oxford and Shrewsbury. Both of those are very good teams, and Darren Moore boxed-clever with his tactical plans in each fixture.
He set up his eleven to soak up all the pressure against the possession-based Oxford. But they showed a different characteristic in their approach to a physical Shrews outfit - and they were really unsettled by Doncaster's quick press and eagerness to move the ball forward quickly.
I am always wary of sides that are talked about as promotion candidates in the third tier, as no sooner as the talk surfaces about a play off push, they tend to get a nose bleed and dive back down.
However, I worry where the next goal in open play is coming from for the hosts, and I am happy to back Moore's team here out of the two Rovers - and historically they have done well against the Gas - winning eight out of their last nine according to Opta Stats. Their (Doncaster's) defence has been in fine form too with three clean sheets from their last four, so backing the Doncaster Clean Sheet 'Yes' would make a lot of sense. However, it was a market that had no liquidity at the time of writing, so check out what's on offer before kick off.
Alan Dudman's P&L (inclusive ante-post, playoffs and regular season)
*All bets to a 0.5pt stake unless stated otherwise
Back Draw or Away Double Chance @ 2.506/4 Sunderland v Wycombe
Back The Draw @ 3.711/4 Southend v Tranmere
Back Doncaster to beat Bristol Rovers @ 2.47/5