The first of two exciting live Championship clashes this weekend should see both sides get lucky in front of goal at Molineux, says Andy Tongue…
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Derby
Friday 20 March
Live on Sky Sports 1
With just one defeat in their last seven games, Kenny Jackett’s side are right back in the hunt for a play-off place. They have lost just one of their last 10 games at home and scored 13 goals in the last four matches at Molineux.
One of the main reasons for the upturn in form has been the signing of Benik Afobe from Arsenal who has scored eight in 12 for the Black Country outfit and was on target in Tuesday’s comfortable 3-0 win at home to Sheffield Wednesday which kept them just three points behind sixth-placed Brentford. Afobe has formed a productive partnership with Bakary Sako, who was also on the scoresheet on Tuesday, while Nouha Dicko offers a third attacking threat.
A sticky run just at the wrong time has seen the Rams slip five points behind the top two after the 1-0 defeat against Middlesbrough at the iPro Stadium on Tuesday night. Another loss here and the play-offs would start to appear the most likely outcome for Steve McClaren’s outfit this season.
In fairness he’s been hit hard by injuries with strikers Chris Martin and Darren Bent both currently on the sidelines along with holding midfielders Omar Mascarell, John Eustace and George Thorne. Johnny Russell has had to move in the centre of their 4-3-3 formation which has not played to his strengths.
Away from home they are without a win in five and they have only kept one clean sheet in the last 11 games – McClaren has switched things about in his back four but kept faith with skipper Richard Keogh despite some shaky performances recently.
The market makes Wolves slight favourites here – they can be backed at 2.6813/8 with the visitors available at 3.02/1 to end that recent poor run on their travels. Jackett’s side are seeking revenge for the 5-0 hammering in the return fixture back in November when the Rams were flying high and I can see why some punters will think the 2.6813/8 about the home side is a fair price.
However, Derby are still one of the top sides in the division and the match odds market looks one to avoid here.
Both Teams to Score
What we can expect is a positive and attacking approach from Wolves as their goal difference is inferior to Brentford’s, which could leave them open to the counter and it’s worth noting that each of the top six sides (Watford, Bournemouth and Norwich) they have played in the last six weeks have scored twice past them.
The Rams still have enough attacking threats to get on the scoresheet themselves, especially if Bent is fit to return (he has five goals from four starts during his loan spell with the Rams). That makes Both Teams to Score an attractive looking price at 1.855/6 and one I’m happy to take as the best bet in this clash.
Afobe is now the country’s leading hitman after he took his season’s tally to 27 on Tuesday night, having scored 19 goals on loan at League One MK Dons before joining Wolves in January. Tottenham striker Harry Kane is the man just behind him on 26.
This will give him an opportunity to showcase his talents to a wider televised audience and with the Derby rearguard having been wobbly over the past couple of months and his side playing some of their best attacking football of the season he looks good value with the Sportsbook to get himself on the scoresheet in this one. Back him at 2.75n/a to make it 28 for the season.
Back Both Teams to Score at 1.855/6 * Best bet
Back Benik Afobe to score anytime at 2.75n/a on Sportsbook
Staked: 105 pts
Returned: 102.94 pts
P/L: – 2.06 pts
*2pts best bet if stated
1pt other recommended bets