MOST people will be focusing on the Champions League tonight with two cracking looking ties – Man City v Barcelona and Juventus v Dortmund.
Unfortunately they’re not as easy to call as they are to watch and best bet in both could be to back goals even if they are first-leg encounters. Elsewhere it’s a busy night in England with a packed Chamnpionship card and League One and League Two fixtures while in the Scottish Premiership Dundee United entertain Inverness.
I’ve posted a separate preview on the Man City game and while I’ve gone for a Barcelona win I accept it’s risky and is based partly on Yaya Toure’s absence.
Having studied the form, stats and team news for every game tonight my Super Single shortlist read Norwich, Reading, Sheffield Utd, Portsmouth and Elgin.
All or none of those sides are capable of winning and after much thought I’ve decided to go with one of the home sides in Portsmouth. Pompey were outstanding as they hammered Cambridge 6-2 away at the weekend but you can’t judge any side on one performance.
Looking back Pompey are unbeaten in five and those goals at the Abbey Stadium are the only ones conceded. Boss Andy Awford has named the side for the last four matches and is set to go with that 11 again as a late push for a play-off spot is launched. Matt Tubbs hit a double against Cambridge and is a prolific scorer at this level and his signing has certainly lifted the side and I expect him to be on target again.
Tranmere lie just three points outside the drop zone but beat Shrewsbury at home at the weekend. However, their away form has not been so good with two wins out of their previous 13 in the league.
Pompey are confident and in good shape and while it’s unrealistic to expect a repeat of the weekend display I expect them to win at a best 11-10 with William Hill.
For my Top Treble I’m concentrating on top teams in the Championship – and I’m aware many of them have been struggling in recent weeks.
I’m starting with Middlesbrough at home to leaky Bolton. Boro couldn’t break down Leeds at the weekend as they crashed 1-0 at home but after their previous five defeats this season they’ve bounced back with four wins and a draw.
Neil Lennon started well at Bolton but five defeats in seven have plunged them back into relegation trouble. Injuries have hit hard, especially in defence, in recent weeks and defender Tim Ream and keeper Andy Lonergan were carried off in the 4-1 loss at Nottingham Forest.
That’s four times in recent weeks that Bolton have conceded four and it’s a worry for Lennon. Boro have players who can take advantage such as Patrick Bamford and Lee Tomlin and I expect them to bounce back at a best 8-15 with William Hill and Ladbrokes.
Next take Brentford at home to a Blackpool side who have improved but remain without an away win and 12 points off safety. I backed against the Bees last weekend but they shrugged aside any worries about boss Mark Warburton leaving at the end of the season with a superb 3-1 win.
Brentford are just one point off the play-offs and must take advantage of a visit from the league’s worst side to boost a home record that could be better.
Complete the treble with Wolves at home to Fulham. Wolves lie four points behind the Bees so can’t afford to drop anything when off-form Fulham visit Molineux. Wolves routed Rotherham 5-0 at the weekend and should have enough firepower to see off a Fulham side who were held 0-0 at Millwall and haven’t won in seven.
Elsewhere in the Championship Watford should bounce back from their 3-0 home defeat to Norwich by beating Rotherham at home and I like the look of Norwich at Blackburn.
Alex Neil has won six and drawn one since taking charge of the Canaries and has been tactically spot on. Ewood Park’s a tough place to visit but Norwich look worth a punt at 11-8 with the likes of Ladbrokes and William Hill.
Reading might also be worth a punt at 2-1 with bet365 at Huddersfield having won their last three at Ipswich, Derby and Wolves.
Leaders Derby have also stuttered but should edge out a Charlton side who have notched back-to-back 3-0 wins. Derby and both to score pays 5-2 at Coral.
The rest of the League One and League Two cards look tricky and in Scotland I’d back Inverness at 20-21 draw no bet at Ladbrokes against a side who have struggled since selling Stuart Armstrong and Gary Mackay-Steven to Celtic.
In the lower leagues Elgin, who beat Montrose 4-0 at the weekend, could be best bets against a Berwick side showing signs of fatigue as they juggle league and cup commitments. Elgin are 2-1 at Betfred and Paddy Power.
Watch out for goals tips later on the goals thread.
4pts Super Single
(11-10, William Hill)
2pts Top Treble
Perm any 2 and all 3 (4 bets)
Trixie pays 15-1, Ladbrokes
Super Single February record:
20 bets (9 winners, 9 losers, 2 void)
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