BRIGHTON & Hove Albion produced a sparkling 90 minutes to sink Blackburn into the bottom half of the table after claiming their first league win at The Amex for just shy of two months on Saturday.
A brace from Ashley Barnes showed he was more than capable of filling the big shoes left by Leo Ulloa, scoring either side of half-time, with teenager Jake Forster-Caskey also on the score-sheet; netting his second of the season.
The win saw Oscar Garcia’s men move up to 11th in the table, just three points from Reading, in the final play-off spot, after sealing back-to-back victories in the Championship for the first time since August.
Those Albion fans dreaming of their run taking them to new heights will be quick to snaffle the 50/1 about them winning the league as those ahead continue to wobble, the top three of Queens Park Rangers, Burnley and Leicester all dropping points this past weekend.
Perhaps the title maybe a bit optimistic, however, achieving promotion is a very realistic target and Brighton are the 10/1 dark-horses, admittedly their best chances looks to be via the play-offs.
The Seagulls have been cut to 7/2 for a top-six finish on the back of those consecutive wins, with a favourable fixture list that has Garcia’s men in very winnable fixtures against Wigan, Bournemouth and Barnsley respectively.
Albion are 4/9 for a top half finish, 13/8 for a bottom half finish, but surely that looks like finding it in the street with Garcia soon to have Leo Ulloa and Craig Mackail-Smith at his disposal.
Ashley Barnes’ belated brace against Rovers were his first league goals of the season, which makes him now just two goals behind the pair of Andrew Crofts and injured Leo Ulloa. With Ulloa and Mackail-Smith still on the sidelines do the pair of Crofts and Barnes now become attractive at the prices; 2/1 and 3/1 respectively?
Leo Ulloa should be able to fire when back however, and remains a 40/1 chance in the betting for Championship top goalscorer, Ashley Barnes 100/1 with BetVictor.
n England are 9/10 to win on Friday evening with Chile 31/10 and the draw at 13/5; Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez is likely to be the main threat to England and is 9/1 to score the opening goal with Wayne Rooney 9/2 and Daniel Sturridge 11/2.
It will be interesting to see how Hodgson uses the games as he is likely to give Celtic keeper Fraser Forster his chance against Chile, and, with Joe Hart out of favour at the Etihad, this is his big opportunity to impress Hodgson and the media who, whether we like it or not, can play an important role in team selection.
Hart is ¼ at BetVictor to start for England in their first World Cup Group game in Brazil next summer, but I feel Forster is the better keeper, certainly at present, and the 8/1 on offer to be in goal for the World Cup opener makes plenty of appeal.
Hodgson looks sure to make changes for the friendly international with Chile at Wembley on Friday before reverting to his first choice XI for Tuesday’s game with Germany. Chile themselves have qualified for Brazil next summer, having finished third in the south American group behind Argentina and Colombia but in front of Ecuador and Uruguay.
Steven Gerrard is one of a number of senior internationals, Hart included, who are likely to be back for Tuesday’s clash with Germany and we find it hard to split the sides making Germany the 6/4 favourites with England 7/4 and the draw at 9/4. Brazil remain our 7/2 favourites to lift the Trophy next summer with Argentina and Germany 11/2, Spain 6s, Belgium 16 and England 20/1.