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Motherwell entertains Aberdeen on Sunday in what must be one of the most important matches on the Scottish Premiership calendar given that the title is almost certain to remain in Celtic’s hands and the Well and the Dons are the leading fancies to run second behind the championship favourite.
It was an inconvenience for Motherwell that it had to travel to Russia and back during the week leading up to its huge domestic clash. But Well boss Stuart McCall had more than one eye on Aberdeen’s visit to Fir Park when he named his travelling party for Thursday’s UEFA Europa League third qualifying round second leg against Kuban Krasnodar.
Experienced Motherwell trio James McFadden, John Sutton and Iain Vigurs did not make the trip to Russia, with McCall seeing no point in overworking three key players at this early stage of the season, particularly as the Well trailed Kuban Krasnodar 0-2 following the first leg in Scotland.
It took a while for Motherwell to turn its superiority over Hibernian into a goal but Henri Anier struck seven minutes from time for the away side to record a well deserved and impressive road win in the opening round of the Scottish Premiership. Aberdeen beat Kilmarnock 2-1 at home but, if one were forced to pick out the best performance, the Well would get the nod ahead of the Dons, albeit not by much.
Even though Motherwell was playing away from its Fir Park base it fired off more shots than Aberdeen did in front of its own supporters at Pittodrie. McFadden, who was a week behind in his pre-season work after going off in a friendly versus Cowdenbeath with a tight hamstring, managed only 70 minutes before having a rest so he will be better for the run and not having had to play in the UEFA Europa League rescue mission against Kuban Krasnodar many miles away. Let’s hope it helps us on our Scottish top goal scorer bet!
In offering odds of 2.40 at BetVictor that Motherwell maintains its 100 per cent Scottish Premiership record by defeating Aberdeen, bookmakers are placing too much importance on the fact that the Well had a midweek European commitment and the Dons did not. McCall’s men should be trading at around the 2.20 mark so anything above that level represents value.
Motherwell and Aberdeen met three times in the Scottish top flight last term and, even though two of those games took place at Pittodrie, the Well did not taste defeat. Indeed, Motherwell won the only Fir Park encounter by a 4-1 margin.
The Coventry story is one of the saddest in English football for many years, with the once proud Sky Blues anchored to the foot of the English League One ladder with a 10-point penalty and their home matches moved to Northampton.
Both of Coventry’s games this term have ended in 2-3 losses for Steven Presley’s side and a comment that Crawley manager Richie Barker made following his team’s English League One home victory over the Sky Blues stood out. Barker said that the match result could have been 7-7 and he was not joking. Reports of Coventry’s English Capital One Cup tie versus Leyton Orient spoke of a game of many, many chances also.
Bristol City is Coventry’s English League One opponent in neutral Northampton. Robins fans could outnumbers Sky Blues supporters, with the latter pledging to boycott the match and attend a charity match in Coventry instead. That may tempt some punters to back Bristol City at odds of around 2.38 to collect maximum points. However, arguably a better play is backing more than two goals at odds of around 1.95 with BetVictor again.
Olympique Marseilles will be popular at odds against for its French Ligue Un away game against last season’s second-tier runner-up, Guincamp. But a word of warning: OM’s results in their warm-up matches has been incredibly underwhelming, including a 0-3 loss to Porto in Switzerland. Olympique Marseilles may get over the line but one will find much better football teams to back in the coming months.