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It is the biggest football match in England on Saturday and one thinks that bookmakers may regret chalking up long odds about Burton beating Walsall at the Banks’s Stadium.
Modern football means that sides such as Burton and Walsall have to contend with having some of their players called up to national teams and that is one of the major reasons why one is keen to oppose the Saddlers at home to the Brewers.
Walsall, which boasts English League One’s meanest defence having conceded only six goals in the first 11 rounds, has its regular goalkeeper, Neil Etheridge, and its impressive right back, Jason Demetriou, away with the national sides of the Phillipines and Cyprus respectively. It is the second time this season that Etheridge and Demetriou have been called up for their countries and the first time ended in tears for Walsall in not one but two competitions.
First, Walsall crashed out of the English Johnstone’s Paint Trophy by losing 0-2 at English League Two team Morecambe. Four days later, Walsall faced Bury in a English League One game at the Banks’s Stadium and the result was a 0-1 loss for the Saddlers who conceded a soft goal and could not convert their territorial domination into goals.
Etheridge is not the world’s greatest goalkeeper but he is a lot better than his Walsall understudy, Craig MacGillivray, who failed to take his opportunity at the end of last term, letting in eight goals at Bristol City on the final day. And it is not what Demetriou brings to Walsall’s defence that matters but what he adds to its offence – he has been a thorn in the side of many teams this season, including Chelsea in the English Capital One Cup. Walsall boss Dean Smith does not have an obvious replacement for Demetriou, whom he signed after knowing him well from Leyton Orient.
Bury did a number on a below-strength Walsall and one thinks that Burton is overpriced at odds of 129/50 3.58 +258 2.58 2.58 -0.39 with Marathonbet to do likewise. There is no fluke behind Burton’s ascension to the top of the English League One ladder and it is only a matter of time before a bigger club than the Brewers turns the head of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. Burton took a punt on Hasselbaink after he hit his job interview out of the park and the former Netherlands striker has rewarded the Brewers greatly, steering them to the English League Two title last term. Hasselbaink has an aura about him and he has shown that he is not above getting his hands dirty at a level below which he played. Hasselbaink is guaranteed to do his homework on Walsall and one is certain that he will view Saturday’s English League One match as a great chance to obtain three points from a visit to a promotion rival.
There are a couple of ways to play on Saturday’s English League One headline act. First, if one trusts MacGillivray not to have a nightmare between the posts for Walsall, one could back under two and a half goals at odds of 1 with 888Sport and Unibet because the Saddlers and Burton are two of English League One’s least entertaining sides in terms of goals. Eight of Walsall’s 11 English League One games have gone under two and a half goals and the average number of goals in Saddlers matches is 2.00. Six of Burton’s 11 English League One games have gone under two and a half goals and the average number of goals in Brewers matches is 1.82. Second, of course, one could back Burton to win what is something of an English League One derby at odds of 129/50 3.58 +258 2.58 2.58 -0.39 .
Burton to beat Walsall
10th October 15:00 GMT
Odds: 129/50 3.58 +258 2.58 2.58 -0.39