Walsall is one of the least fashionable sides, not only in English League One but also in the entire English Football League, but the Saddlers should be receiving more plaudits for their impressive performances under the Ginger Mourinho.
Dean Smith is the man whom Walsall fans have labelled as the red-haired version of Chelsea’s Special One and the former Saddlers defender, who has experienced many ups and down since becoming the team’s boss in January 2011, has got diehard English League One followers talking about his free-flowing Walsall side. Fortunately, the Saddlers are flying under the radar with most bookmakers and punters.
Walsall was one of the form teams in the second half of last season’s English League One competition. Only two of three promoted sides, Bournemouth and Yeovil, accrued more points from their last 23 matches than Walsall, with the Saddlers winning 11, drawing nine and losing three. Walsall’s home record in the second half of last term was 7-4-0, with a league-leading 23 goals scored and eight goals conceded.
Smith waved goodbye three of Walsall’s top attacking players during the summer months, with Febian Brandy linking up with Sheffield United, Will Grigg joining Brentford and Jamie Paterson moving to Nottingham Forest. Most bookmakers and punters expected Walsall to struggle without Brandy, Grigg and Paterson because they were banking on Smith failing in the transfer and loan markets. Smith has come up trumps, acquiring the temporary services of Chelsea forward Milan Lalkovic and seeing the talent of James Baxendale blossom.
Walsall has won its first three games in all competitions, beating Oldham and Port Vale on the road after playing Tranmere off the park at the Banks’s Stadium. Walsall’s weekend opponent is Notts County, a team that has been conceding goals left, right and centre throughout both pre-season and the season proper. Notts County has leaked two or more goals in each of its three competitive matches, including four in 2-4 home loss to Peterborough last time out and that was after leading 1-0 at the half-hour mark.
Even money or maybe one roll less should be the odds at which Walsall are trading to beat Notts County at home. BetVictor, however, are offering odds of around 2.25 that Walsall keep the smiles on the faces of Saddlers supporters with a fourth consecutive victory. Walsall is a good bet.
Bookmakers were wrong to install Portsmouth and Queens Park Rangers as English League Two and English Championship favourites respectively before the competitions got under way. Bookmakers are wrong to quote Portsmouth and Queens Park Rangers at such attractive odds to beat Morecambe and Ipswich respectively in front of their own fan groups.
Running out at Fratton Park will inspire some English League Two sides and scare the living daylights out of others, with Portsmouth’s average home attendance likely to settle around the 20,000 level. Morecambe’s players are used to playing in front of some of the smallest audiences in England’s top four divisions and they may freeze on the big stage. Also, Portsmouth’s form, though somewhat disappointing to Pompey punters, is not worse than that of Morecambe. Portsmouth should be well into odds-on territory to beat Morecambe at Fratton Park but it is available at odds of around 2.00 at YouWin.
Queens Park Rangers has made a more than respectable start to life outside the English Premier League and, if the Super Hoops are going to end the English Championship campaign at the top of the ladder, they should be taking care of Ipswich at Loftus Road. Ipswich has lost its two away games – 1-2 at Reading and 0-2 at Stevenage – so far this term, whereas Queens Park Rangers dusted Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 in its only home match to date. Queens Park Rangers is trading at odds of around 1.95 to have its irrepressible boss, Harry Redknapp, jumping for joy. Those are odds that could look very big when one reviews the action in weeks to come.
Finally, over/under 2.5 goals punters should be interested in the English League One game between Carlisle and crisis club Coventry. Carlisle’s three competitive matches have produced 14 normal-time goals, while Coventry’s games have featured an incredible 19 goals. Bookmakers are offering odds of around 1.85 that Carlisle and Coventry combine for more than two goals, with the extra firepower of the Sky Blues making them away possibilities, although backing ordinary sides on the road is not the smartest ploy Best odds were spotted at Bet365.