BATTLE OF NORTH LONDON Finally we have some good action in store after a very quiet week. International breaks always give us withdrawal symptoms from football, but at last we will get our dose over the next couple of days. Of course the highlight of the weekend is England v Scotland, but there is a few more very intriguing games to look forward to. So let’s see where there is money to be made:

England v Scotland

7.45pm Friday This is the big one of the weekend. Plenty of home interest, and a nice healthy rivalry between the two teams. For me the prices are a bit off, so will have to look a bit deeper into the markets. England at 1.44 is far too short for me for a team that has not showed much in their previous few games. They scraped a win in Big Sam’s only game and were poor in Southgate’s first game also. They are not at the same level they were a few years ago, and while I feel they can get the win I don’t think they should be that short.

One thing you can say for England in their last few games is that they have been solid at the back. They have not showed much adventure in their play, which helps them in a defensive capacity. As much as England have regressed slightly, the same can be said for Scotland. Scotland have come up with a few big wins in the last few years, but I can’t see this team creating any major upsets in this campaign. Their defence will be a big problem, there is just no real pace in their back four. This will leave them vulnerable, and while it is an opportunity for England, with a defensive approach themselves I can’t see them overly exposing it.

Scotland will probably sit back in this game as well, being that they are an underdog playing away from home. I think it may lead to a less entertaining game, and although I do feel England will be able to get a win I think it will be by the bare minimum. So I will definitely look past the 1.44 price as there is certainly no value here in how this game will be played. England to win 1-0 is a very good price at 6.2. They have kept 10 clean sheets in their last 14 home games, so their defensive record in Wembley is certainly something that can’t be ignored. I am very confident they will make it 11 clean sheets in 15 home games, but I don’t see them playing an attacking style as Southgate will be a more cautious manager for England

Back England 1-0 at 6.2

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Austria v Ireland

5.00pm Saturday This is a tough away game for Ireland, especially when you look at the injuries in the team right now. It is hard to see goals in the squad that is making the trip to Vienna. Shane Long is out injured, and although he has not been prolific in an Ireland jersey or indeed for Southampton this season he is still without doubt our best striker. Without him in the side you would imagine Walters may lead the line which means there will be a lack of pace up front. He will put in a shift and battle for every ball but will struggle to make chances.

Austria are not unbeatable, they haven’t found the form they had in qualifying for the Euros yet. They were dreadful in France during the summer and seem to be suffering a bit from a hangover. They obviously have one world class player in Alaba and more talent around the pitch which could grab them a win, but I give Ireland a chance of going in and getting a result. Probably not a win, but they could squeeze a draw from the game. Ireland will heavily depend on whoever will be in midfield to make some chances. Walters doesn’t have the pace to make somethign himself with no support. I hope Harry Arter will be in the team, he is a complete midfielder and would do an excellent job controlling midfield and getting forward. McClean may miss out through injury, so again we are losing pace out wide and need to get some inventiveness in the side, much of which will need to come from central areas.

It is tough to see Ireland picking up a win with a depleted team, and I very much see Martin O’Neill’s side setting up to get a draw here. Of course they are a little light at the back currently as well, but it will be a whole team effort. I am tempted at going for a draw at 3.35 but again I’m not fully convinced Ireland will come away with something. I am hopeful of course, but I wouldn’t be willing to part with much money on the draw (do not ordinarily like backing draws anyways) so I am going to look at more markets for a price. The most likely results for me are a 0-0 draw or a 1-0 Austria win, so under 1.5 goals is the best market I can see.

Back Under 1.5 goals at 2.82

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Georgia v Moldova

5.00pm Saturday This is probably the bet I feel most strongly about this weekend. I think Georgia are a much better side than people and prices give them credit for. In the previous couple of games they looked like they have a few more big results in them. They were beaten 1-0 in Ireland, that is a game they in no way deserved to lose. They were every bit as good as the Irish but were very unlucky in front of goal, hitting the woodwork three times. Ireland scored a comically scrappy goal, and other than that did not create a huge amount. How did Georgia respond to the defeat? They came out a few days later and beat Wales.

They are a technically gifted side, I have said that from the beginning of this campaign. It’s not only that though, they have something more in the side now. They have a bit more bottle and are a genuine danger to any team in this group. They have come forward a lot from the previous qualifying campaign where they were drawn with Ireland and Scotland. They beat Scotland towards the end of that campaign too, and look to have stepped up since that result.

Moldova don’t look like a great team. I think there is a clear gulf in class here. Ireland struggled for a while to put the Moldovans away, but they were particularly poor that night and still managed a 3-1 win. I think with Georgia playing at home here you can expect a pretty one sided game with a couple of goals. Georgia play a decent brand of football which will be able to break down Moldova, expect a couple of goals cushion here.

Back Georgia -1 at 1.93

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