SCUNTHORPE UNITED - DONCASTER ROVERS
I am very keen on Rovers in a local derby they traditionally do well in. The visitors are very much an established Championship side now and at worst should be upper mid table/ playoff fringes, come the end of the season, recent results have not been great, but performances have continued to be good and the ball has simply not run for them in the last month. They created 19 attempts at Coventry, outplaying City for long periods before losing to a late goal, they also went to Loftus Road and rather than sit back took their very attractive passing game to QPR and again outplayed the league leaders for almost an hour, restricting the home side to only two attempts on target from open play. Last two home starts have resulted in draws against Leeds and Forest and again could have been so much better, with Rovers creating the stronger chances.
They now make the short journey to face a near neighbour and will be looking to get back on track, especially with a very tough sequence of fixtures coming up. They have no new injuries, have sold out their allocation of away tickets, so their fans will be making a lot of noise in the tiny Glanford Park stadium and have hungry key striker Billy Sharp straining at the bit to score at the ground where he made his name. United have conceded 13 goals in the last month, a sequence in which they have played four home games without recording a win. On a very limited budget, survival is their only realistic hope in a very competitive division and I feel they will need luck to avoid the drop.
Doncaster -0.25 2.28
BOLTON - STOKE
We discussed recently what an open style Bolton play under Owen Coyle, they are far more easy on the ear, but despite being beaten only once (at the Emirates) they have yet to really get the just reward their play deserves, with far too many games ending in stalemate. They are struggling to keep a cleansheet, something they have not done since the opening day of the campaign and this is leaving them needing a goal or two just to claim a point, last two home starts have ended 2-2 and a third might well be on the cards today. I certainly expect both to score, something which has happened in the last two h2h meetings at the Reebok, especially given the visitors very similar record, they only have one cleansheet in nine outings in all competitions and like the Trotters have are far more adventurous nowadays. Both have strikers Elmander and Jones who have refound their touch and I have to take the "over" which is attractively priced. By the way if betting in running, Stoke have the best EPL second half record collecting 16 points after the break, they have also collected the most points from losing positions. Bolton half time / draw full time is priced @ 15.0 + and I would not put anyone off that for small stakes, but goals for me.
"over" 2.5 goals 2.13
MANCHESTER UNITED - WBA
United will be out all guns blazing for the three points and to put some pressure on Chelsea, who have an early evening kick off at Villa Park. They have yet to really fire on the road, but remain 100% here in the EPL scoring three against each of West Ham, Newcastle and Liverpool. United will be hoping that unlike most visitors to Old Trafford that Albion will continue their slightly gung-ho approach which has seen them concede 8 goals in two previous starts against top 3 teams, it worked fantastically well at the Emirates, where they landed a famous 3-2 victory, less well at Stamford Bridge where they lost 6-0. I do not see any shocks here today and think the second of those results is more likely than the first. The visitors have ridden their luck at times and do both concede and create a lot of chances, that approach will serve them well against the lesser lights, but United are forwarned after the Arsenal result and I do not see lightning striking again.
Manchester United -1.75 goals 2.07