The problem with Troyes is instantly clear, they don’t have many goals in them. Striking trio Adama Niane (6), Said-Eddine Khaoui (5) and Hyun-Jun Suk (5) are what we would call moderate converters. By that we mean they need far too many chances, and more often than not the ball ends up in the stands. And, while the hosts did win at the weekend against bottom club Metz, they needed a fortunate 88th minute winner! While Troyes might play reserved football, the same can’t be said of tonights visitor. If ever a French team went for the jugular, it’s got to be Oliver Dall’Oglio’s side. To be analytical, Dijon can appear very naive on occasions, and that’s the reason you see a lot of big score lines against their name. Nevertheless, this is a entertaining team that go at it for 90 minutes, and earlier on in the season that was enough to get a 3-1 win over todays opponent. Troyes are now without suspended holding midfielder Bellugou, while Dingome and Darbion remain injured. Hyun-Jun Suk is available tonight, but he’s likely to start on the bench. Marie, Xeka and Moutou are out for Dijon, they were all sidelined at the weekend. Good news is Sammaritano is fit again, expect him to line up! Visitors too strong!
Upto the weekend defeat by Fulham (2-0), Aston Villa had been in good form under Steve Bruce. With that said, they were not overly impressive in beating Burton or Birmingham. And, they needed a 90th minute winner against Sheffield United, and they rode their luck for the whole match against Forest. We have a sense of feeling that the Villains have been pointing, but they are nothing special. Preston are just one place out of the play-off zone, and come into this unbeaten in six league matches. At the weekend, North End led league leaders Wolves until they had a player sent off. Nevertheless, it was still a great performance from the Lillywhites to hold out with a man less for over 30 minutes. Preston are one of the best travellers in the league, and they appear in better physical shape than their opponents for tonight. In fact, while Alex Neil is without suspended John Welsh and Sean Maguire, both Pearson and Cunningham are returning from one match bans. Only Tom Clarke and Gallagher are slight doubts. Villa have doubts over Mohamady, Adomah and Grealish, while Samba, Kodjia and Andre Green are definite absentee’s! Take Preston to point here, and the win option is also a decent bet!
Just can’t believe that Barnsley are in the relegation zone. Afterall, the Reds are a really good passing side, and they certainly play some high octane football. At the weekend they outplayed the in form Sheffield Wednesday for much of the match, so it was a bit of an injustice that they could only draw (1-1). Prior to that the Tykes lost three league games on the spin, albeit each of those results could have been different with a bit of fortune. Here’s the thing, if Barnsley can’t beat a rugged but limited Burton it’s time to call it a day. The latter had the rub of the green when Forest went down to ten men on 28 minutes at the weekend. However, despite the man advantage for over an hour they couldn’t win that home fixture. The Brewers were tormented and ultimately beaten 2-4 in the reverse fixture, and boss Nigel Clough will need to do without defenders Ben Turner and Tom Flanagan this evening!
The Lions like to get their fans behind them at the Den, and it’s that which makes it an intimidating place for opposing teams. We also recognise that Millwall are unbeaten in their last six home matches, and they are a two places and five points above tonights opponent. However, the visitors have lost just one of their last ten matches, and they are clearly doing much better under the guidance of new boss Jos Luhukay. At the weekend in the FA cup, the Owls drew with premier league side Swansea (0-0), and prior to that they had beaten then second placed Derby County (2-0). We should also add that the visitors won the reverse fixture during a quiet spell. And, they can be buoyed by the fact they kept six clean sheets in their last nine league matches. The Owls are expecting upto 4 players back for this evening, and they are 5-3-0 against Millwall over the past 8 meetings! Easy call!
Yes we can read the stat that the Tricky Tree’s lost their last five home games, and they are without newly suspended Eric Lichaj. However, when we consider they played Burton with a man less for over 60 minutes and stopped them scoring, we believe it showed a lot of character from the host. Reds Boss Aitor Karanka is almost certainly the right man for the job, and having Michael Mancienne back tonight is a massive boost. In our opinion Reading are their for the taking, and that’s despite having up to three players back for tonights match. Forest won this fixture the last three times and scored ten goals in the process.
Sunderland are in the danger of suffering back to back relegations. At the start of the season the Black Cats were one of the favourites for promotion, but since then they have done nothing but disappoint. Suffice to say the fans are already calling for the head of Chris Coleman, but maybe it’s not the former Wales managers fault because he’s picked up a team with so many issues. In fact, injuries are going from bad to worse with Ruiter (first GK), Wilson, Gibson, Watmore and LuaLua confirmed absentees. While McNair and Kone are likely to be available, both Oviedo and Ejaria are also big doubts. Bolton lost back to back league matches, but to be fair a red card at the weekend left them playing with a man down against QPR. Back at home the Trotters are clearly much better, and this looks a great time to play an under pressure Sunderland.
FLEMERINA is certainly the one to beat for her in form yard, but carrying 11-10 and being the same odds makes her a take-on. HEPBURN falls into the too much weight category, while MASSINI’S LADY needs to prove she wants it and can jump. Since KILLCULLEN LADY has a lot to prove, we believe it’s worth taking a chance with chasing debutant HONEYCHILE RYDER. Dianne Sayer’s seven year old made a pleasing return, and she could do better now she’s going over the larger obstacles. All in all, these odds are very tempting!
A few of these have been winning and that means they have gone up the weights. CUCKLINGTON is one who is finding it hard from his new mark, while stable companion MUFFINS FOR TEA will struggle with 105. HEY BILL and SPEEDALONG are also penalised for winning last time out, and neither have much scope for improvement. Back to back point to point winner was found out by his massive weight last time out. Today the 8 year old is receiving from the principals, and he should prove better still on this decent ground. James Best is a good booking, and odds of 7/2 are fair enough.
BORDER CONTROL clearly didn’t stay the three miles last time out. Prior to that Joseph O’Brien’s five year old ran a cracker against Another Barney, and he finished 3.75 lengths in front of the third place Grotesque. On a strict line of form he’s got a couple of pounds to find with Willie Mullins charge GIANT SPIRIT, albeit we don’t believe that gelding is up to his handicap rating! GREAT KHAN is clearly held, while some of the others will need to improve drastically. For us this looks a race between the top two in betting!
TELL ME ANNIE ran well enough on her return, albeit she only finished a little in front of COUNTESS CATHLEEN. Nevertheless, she should be better suited by the step up in trip than that one. A line through MOONLIGHT ESCAPE suggests TRUMPS ACE has a fair bit to find. While we are not overly happy to be betting a runner giving weight away, the flat form of DECISION TIME stands up well. Not only did she win well when last seen, she also beat 115 rated OSCO MOSCO by 5.5 lengths in a bumper, and she gave that mare 5 pounds.
Mississippi St has been on a roll with 7 consecutive wins ATS but this is a team we have watched carefully and they are a bit underwhelming offensively. Ole Miss ranks as the worst SEC team and while the Bulldogs 79-62 win over the Rebels looks impressive, it was over a checked out team that became more evident when their head coach resigned after the game. Even the game prior where the Bulldogs lost by just a point to a dangerous Vanderbilt team came after the Commodores built a large lead then got careless at the end. We're not sure what Texas A&M's issues are on the road but the fact remains they enjoy one of the better home court advantages as shown by their 12-2 mark at home. The Aggies suffered a setback when Duane Wilson was lost for the season but with everyone else back from injuries/suspensions and distractions at a minimum, this is one of the teams we rate very highly and even moreso playing on their home court. The Aggies' suffocating defense is a site to behold and should allow the hosts to cruise to a comfortable win.
The Explorers have been in dreadful form, especially against the market as they are a dismal 1-12 ATS in their last 13 games. Still, if there is a modicum of hope for this bet, the Explorers have shown to be markedly better at home, where they have won 4 out of their last 5 and the non-covers by just a few points. The Rams have dominated the Atlantic-10 with a 13-1 record but are coming off their lone loss to a conference opponent, St Bonaventure, over the weekend. We will again roll the dice on the hosts as they have the talent and fantastic guards that should do well in this matchup. The Rams excel at guarding the perimeter but the Explorers prefer to drive into the paint for most of their scoring. The Explorers' dreadful 3 pt defense also should be mitigated by the fact that the Rams prefer to shoot inside the arc as well.