League Two weekend betting preview: Robins ready to take revenge


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The Independent Football

Paolo Di Canio is many things, but he's also a man of real substance and when he describes losing a local derby at home to Oxford as one of his lowest moments in life, you can rest assured he will be doing everything in his power to put that result right when the reverse fixture is played at the Kassam this weekend.

The Italian has a tendency to be a little melodramatic at times but we shouldn't mistake his wild interpretation of mild occurrences for insincerity, we should instead take them as an indication of where his priorities lie and punt them accordingly.

And when you consider that his Swindon team are head and shoulders above the rest of League Two on current form, then odds of 7/5 about them overcoming average opposition have standout appeal.

One can only presume that the layers are reading too much into formbook-out-of-the-window theory when pricing up this clash because the Robins were odds-on in their last away match and have since stretched a six-match winning streak to ten matches.

But if any manager is going to play the bragging-rights card better and get his players to go that extra mile on Saturday, our money would be on Di Canio long before his opposite number Chris Wilder.

The Oxford boss isn't bad at setting teams up to avoid defeat - as five clean sheets in the last six matches would testify - but the U's sit seventh for the simple fact that they don't seize the initiative enough.

And it's a weakness that always comes back to haunt them against quality opposition. Until the end of October, they were in the frame for automatic promotion but a run of defeats against Southend (twice), Cheltenham and Crawley soon put them in their place and they've never really looked the same team since.

The U's have only lost one of their 13 matches since a 4-1 hiding at the Broadfield Stadium but that sequence has only produced five wins and four of those have been against bottom eight opposition, the sort of teams where you don't have to take too many risks because they will hand you points on a plate.

Oxford will probably set out to frustrate the leaders with their usual level of uncertainty avoidance and play this game like the away side but Swindon have enough quality and conviction to push United's resistance to breaking point. Indeed, if the visitors get their noses in front early, it could turn out to be an extremely humbling occasion for the hosts.

Those favouring Oxford at around 2/1 will no doubt cite their success at the County Ground six months ago but you might wish to recall how that game came in the midst of four straight defeats before Di Canio had chance to make his mark and stamp his authority.

The Swindon team that will line up against the U's at the Kassam on Saturday will bear little resemblance, but it will be hell-bent on putting right the wrongs of the experimental team responsible for Di Canio's worst moment in management to date.

The Oxford team will be minus skipper Jake Wright and midfielder Peter Leven.

Recommended bet:

2pts Swindon to beat Oxford at 7/5 (Stan James)

For more betting news and views, please visit Bestofthebets.com. You can also follow Mike Holden on Twitter: @Miguel_BOTB