Walsall's Oztumer has scored 13 goals from midfield this season.

Rags to Riches: Walsall to Hold Court at Wimbledon

Walsall's Oztumer has scored 13 goals from midfield this season.

Walsall is one of English League One’s form teams and one thinks that the Saddlers, now that they have struck upon a system that gets the best of out of their star players, are overpriced to post an away win over Wimbledon on Saturday.

Inexperienced Walsall boss Jon Whitney omitted the so-called Turkish Messi, Erhun Oztumer, for several English League One rounds because the former Peterborough playmaker did not fit into the manager’s preferred system. Walsall was in danger of getting sucked into an English League One relegation scrap before Whitney, who succeeded Dean Smith as Saddlers coach midway through last season, swallowed his pride and admitted that leaving Oztumer on the bench was a mistake.

Oztumer is the English League One’s fifth highest scorer with 13 goals from midfield, a remarkable tally in spite of making five substitute appearances and not being a striker. Oztumer has the ability to play in one of England’s top two tiers but, for now at least, he is a Walsall asset and there are few more creative players in English League One. Oztumer has scored in three of Walsall’s last four English League One games, including a crazy goal direct from a corner kick against his old team, Peterborough, last weekend. And it was Oztumer who opened the scoring for Walsall in its 3-1 English League One home win over Wimbledon in August.

Wimbledon is one of English League One’s out-of-form sides, beating Oxford 2-1 at home in an otherwise dismal 1-5-4 divisional run. Wimbledon is just two rungs below Walsall on the English League One ladder and the Dons have played one fewer match but the standings are incorrect to suggest that there is little to choose between the two teams. According to one’s English League One collateral form analysis, which compares how sides perform versus identical opponents, Walsall enjoys an 11-3-9 advantage over Wimbledon. However, that is only a small part of the story. For example, Walsall holds a 6-2-0 English League One collateral form edge over Wimbledon if one just counts games in which one of the division’s top eight teams took part. What that indicates is that Walsall is much classier than Wimbledon and, combined with the Saddlers being in much better form than the Dons, one sees value in backing Saturday’s visiting side.

Bet365 and BetVictor are offering odds of +240  about Walsall improving its English League One away numbers to 3-9-5 with a road triumph over Wimbledon. Walsall took Wimbledon to the cleaners in the opening round of the English League One competition and the Saddlers are playing better football now than they did in August. Whitney has made several astute loan signings, including Celtic defender Eoghan O’Connell, and Oztumer is playing out of his skin because his manager believes in him again. Wimbledon’s most recent English League One home game ended in a 1-1 draw against the division’s cellar dweller, Coventry, a result that would have hurt the confidence of the Dons because the Sky Blues have been copping hidings throughout their awful campaign. And whereas Walsall has had a full week to prepare for its English League One match at the Cherry Red Records Stadium, Wimbledon lined up versus Gillingham in Kent on Tuesday.

The purpose of this weekly column is to highlight betting value away from the bright lights. One’s tissue price about a Walsall win was +180  and, at the time of writing, 188Bet was quoting the Saddlers at +187 . One expects Walsall to shorten considerably from +240  before Saturday’s kick off.

Tips Summary

Walsall to beat Wimbledon
Saturday 25th February, 15:00 GMT
Odds:  +240

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