Seven selections with very brief comments, one already coming to a close, some quotes are gone, others still available........
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR- WEST HAM UNITED
Hammers still looking fairly toothless upfront and have a dire record in this fixture, scoring just one injury time goal in five visits here, Spurs have not lost in eight meetings home and away, winning six and keeping five cleansheets. They set out to keep things tight at Fulham on Saturday and will be far more adventurous today, with Defoe and Modric set to return to the starting line up. Each time Happy Harry's men have failed to score this season, they have bounced back with at least two goals in their next outing and a similar tally looks on the cards today, with West Ham without a win on the road since matchday one.
7.5 points Tottenham -1 ball 1.81 asian line.
BARNSLEY - MIDDLESBOROUGH
Boro finally got their first home win for Gordon Strachan at the weekend and will be looking to follow that up in a difficult looking trip to Oakwell. I am keen to oppose Barnsley as although they are in very solid form, they have to make major changes to their back line, on loan defenders Ryan Shotton and Carl Dickinson have signed extentions to their loan deals, but the paperwork will not be completed until the New Year, meaning they will be unavailable today. The pair have been key in the Tykes upturn in fortune and have started each of the last 13 Championship fixtures, this is a major upheaval and a chance for Boro to get at the home defence and back into the promotion race. Some 4-5,000 Boro fans are making the trip south.
5.5 points Middlesborough -1/4 ball 2.13 asian line.
NOTTINGHAM FOREST - COVENTRY CITY
Hard to see too many goals in this local derby, these two have only conceded nine between them in 12 starts and whilst Forest have been on fire recently, they finally drew blank at Watford and City were buoyed by a third straight win and a second clean sheet, in a competent 1-0 defeat of Doncaster. I know that home boss Billy Davies, who prepares as thoroughly as any manager in the Football League hates these festive fixtures, as they come too fast for him to do his usual homework and he feels at a disadvantage, having dropped two points on saturday, I do not think he will be oozing confidence just 48 hours later. These are traditionally very close games and getting a full goal handicap start looks too good to pass.
6 points Coventry +1 ball 1.85 asian line.
SCUNTHORPE - WEST BROMWICH ALBION
I expect to see a more lively performance from Albion right from the off today. they have been sluggish in a couple of first half performances recently, most notably against QPR and Peterbrough, only coming to life after the break. This is a big game for them, not only would three points see them close to within five of Newcastle, but would more importantly enable them to maintain at least a two point lead on the pack and especially Nottingham Forest , who are their next opponents in the Championship. Scunny played almost the entire game on Saturday with ten men and did an awful lot of work, just to keep the scoreline respectable, another game against one of the top two teams outside the top flight just 48 hours later is far from ideal.
7 points West Brom -3/4 ball 1.98 asian line.
MILLWALL - BRISTOL ROVERS
Not much between these two in the league table, with both just outside the playoff zone, but I am certain that Millwall are the better team and will be the one making another post season push. They will be very pleased to get back to the New Den, where they are 7-3-1 after very tough road games at Charlton and Norwich, where they played well despite conceding six goals, they actually restricted the home sides to a total of just 16 attempts on goal and on another day, would have collected something from both games. Millwall have far more options today with the return of Jack Smith and Dave Martin from suspension and at times, can be unplayable at home. With a trip to Carlisle up next , followed by Southampton, you will see that this comes in the middle of a very tough run of games for the 'Wall and they have definitely targetted these points, against a side they have beaten on four of their previous five visits.
6.5 points Millwall -3/4 ball 2.20 asian line.
WYCOMBE WANDERERS- BRIGHTON
I discussed Brighton very recently, when we backed them to get a point at Swindon, they were more than a little unfortunate that day and boss Gus Poyet is still fumimg after a penalty they were denied, they also missed two clear late chances to equalise. It is obvious they are playing better than results might suggest and a 0-0 draw with Orient on saturday, at least steadied the ship and having played the final quarter with ten men, they might even view that as a point earned.
This is already a relegation six pointer, with these two clubs six and three points respectively adrift of safety. They shared eight goals here in the FA Cup, with Brighton taking the replay 2-0, so they will travel without fear to a team which has conceded 29 times in 14 starts and were left disconsolate after a 4-0 loss at Yeovil on Saturday. Man for man I see a clear advantage in the visitors.
7 points Brighton level ball 2.08 asian line.
BLUE SQUARE PREMIER
SALISBURY - OXFORD UNITED
Oxford were devastated that their Boxing day game was called off, they had trained on Christmas Day and were really up for the match in front of a huge crowd. Boss Chris Wilder would really like to tick this one off his CV as United lost here 2-1 a year ago in his first match in charge, they concede two early goals and afterwards Wilder admitted he had made selection errors. He has not made too many since then as just four further defeats in 12 months (incredible) testifies. His side will be well up for this, facing a team in financial crisis. The administrators are running City, they have lost 5 from six and their last four home starts, they lost heavily at FGR on Boxing day and because of injury and suspension and lack of options,only had three players on the bench , including a coach and a couple of youth players, one of whom played. I have to make United my strongest bet of the day.
8 points Oxford United -1/2 ball 1.77 asian line.