Home comforts for Howe
We're a quarter of the way through the season, and only 37 per cent of League One matches have been home wins. History tells us the figure should settle at somewhere in the 40s by the end of this next quarter, so let's not shy away from a couple of speculative bets contributing to the expected increase on Saturday.
And when you're dealing in the variance of home advantage, where better to start than with the contrast provided by the return of Eddie Howe at Bournemouth. The atmosphere around Dean Court was increasingly tetchy throughout the reign of Paul Groves, but Howe's mere presence was enough to lift the Cherries to victory over Leyton Orient last weekend.
The 34-year-old homebird was doing a reasonable job in he Championship with Burnley but dropped everything once the call came from Eddie Mitchell, offering him and his assistant Jason Tindall a route back to Dorset, prompting jubilant scenes among supporters. Take the 6/4 about Bournemouth following up with another victory against early pacesetters Tranmere.
Forget the false start, the Cherries have been labouring under a weight of expectation but they have the personnel to be fighting for promotion and now they have the manager to sort out the wheat from the chaff in terms of tactical strategy.
Finding the right balance might take time, but Howe can count on greater intensity from the players while he makes his mind up. His past association with old faces is bound to put the expensive new arrivals on their toes and it should result in some much-needed competition for places.
Tranmere have been nothing short of phenonmenal up to this point but they're overachieving in a big way. To put the matter into context, consider the fact they would finish on 115 points if they maintained this form - and then appreciate that's more than they picked up in the past two seasons put together.
Indeed, Rovers dropped their standards when falling two goals behind at home to Yeovil last weekend only to then complete an extraordinary comeback and win the game 3-2. It said as much about the state of the Glovers' defence as it did about the Merseysiders soaring confidence, but Ronnie Moore's men are pushing their luck now and the bubble looks ready to burst.
Meanwhile, Carlisle had a lucky escape at Bury in midweek, snatching a point with a late Joe Garner strike deep into stoppage time, but we reckon those high-jinks at Gigg Lane will come at a cost when they make the long journey down to Colchester three days later.
Greg Abbott's men haven't been performing to the standards we've come to expect in recent years. After four seasons of continual progress, the Cumbrians were widely fancied to push for a top-six finish this time around but last weekend's humbling 4-0 home defeat against Notts County reinforced the view that they are some way short without the talismanic presence of Lee Miller.
Colchester endured a dreadful start to the campaign under John Ward but their fortunes have picked up dramatically under successor Joe Dunne. The Irishman had shown managerial promise in a previous stint as caretaker and he couldn't wait to get his teeth into the job when he was called upon again following Ward's dismissal.
The U's have subsequently won three of their last four league matches, bringing a much more positive dynamic to the sparsely-populated Community Stadium and they look good value to continue the resurgence at odds of 6/4.
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