England v Malta – Wembley Stadium, London at 17:00 live on ITV1
On Saturday we turn our attention to England, if it wasn’t already on them! After an eventful couple of months, the Three Lions can put the recent off the field troubles behind them. They host Malta at Wembley and come into the match as 1.02 favourites. Even with the Asian Handicap line at -4.25, England look value to me at 2.40.
Gareth Southgate takes charge as interim boss after Sam Allardyce’s sacking. Big Sam’s reign last just 67 days and whatever your opinion on the matter, we need to move on.
Southgate’s squad selection was relatively innocuous but still there was some scrutiny. Glenn Johnson’s call up over Nathaniel Clyne in particular. Johnson has subsequently pulled out through injury and was replaced by Michael Keane.
With injury’s to Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Adam Lallana, all regulars under Hodgson, it gives Southgate the chance to shake things up. It would be no surprise if Rashford was in the starting XI, alongside the in form Theo Walcott. Michael Anotonio and Jesse Lingard may also get a run out.
There are tougher matches to come for England but Malta and Slovenia (Tuesday), are games they’re expected to win comfortably, expect Southgate to experiment a little.
Whatever the starting XI, England should come into this match full of confidence. They won all 10 of their qualifying matches for Euro 2016, scoring an average of 3.1 goals per game, conceding just 3 times.
In fact they have won their last 13 qualifying matches and their last 9 on home turf. No wonder they are as short as they are..
The Maltese national side come into this match on the back of a 1-5 thumping at home to Scotland. They are now down to 176 in the FIFA rankings and are simply awful.
They have also lost 6-0 away to the Czech Republic this year and I’d be surprised if they managed anything more than a point or 2 this qualifying campaign.
Do not be tempted by the big prices on offer for an upset or even a draw. Even if they were 1000/1, Malta do not offer value here.
Asian Handicap & Total Goals
Over 4.5 goal is offered at 1.90. England have a reputation for not thrashing the smaller teams but recent results prove that to be wrong.
The Three Lions have put 10 past San Marino in their last two meetings. They have also thumped the likes of Lithuania, Montenegro and Moldova 4-0, 4-1 and 4-0.
Malta, for me, are a lesser threat than each of those, maybe with the exception of San Marino. As mentioned, the Maltese recently conceded 5 against Scotland and 6 at home to the Czech Republic. England shouldn’t have a problem in sticking 5 past them.
I don’t see Malta getting on the score sheet here so rather than backing the Overs, there is more value on the Asian Handicap market. England are 2.40 -4.25 and I’m expecting them to come out with a point to prove and start Southgate’s reign with a resounding victory.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: England -4.25 at 2.40
Prices correct at time of writing,
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