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Luton v AFC Wimbledon: Betting Preview

Since taking over at AFC Wimbledon in December 2012, Neal Ardley has built the club into a solid mid-table outfit in League 2, but there are signs that the club could mount a playoff push this season. They are arguably slightly unfortunately to only find themselves in 12th position in the table after eight games - they should have beaten Plymouth on the opening day and will feel aggrieved to have not taken at least a point against Cambridge. On their travels, they have had three consecutive 1-1 draws, but could easily have taken three points against both Mansfield and Yeovil based on the stats.

This weekend, they face a Luton Town side that was tipped for a title push before the season began, but who have struggled and find themselves in 19th position at this stage. Home defeats to Bristol Rovers and Portsmouth and away defeats to Yeovil and Notts County are not results that will have pleased John Still and the statistics do not give them any great areas for optimism.

One major area of concern for Luton will be the number of chances that they are conceding in central areas of the penalty area, particularly in the air. The graphic below shows all of the chances that Luton have conceded at home so far this season.

As we can see, there are plenty inside the penalty area. Only Dagenham & Redbridge and Hartlepool have conceded more than Luton's 2.00 headed chances per match from 'Centre of Box', which will be a concern for John Still with AFC Wimbledon and Adebayo Akinfenwa heading to Kenilworth Road. Indeed, only Cambridge's Leon Legge and Leyton Orient's Paul McCallum have had more headed opportunities this season than Akinfenwa's six. However, Akinfenwa is not the only danger for Luton's defenders as 6`4 striker Tom Elliott has also had five headed chances from good areas this season. On the ground, Andy Barcham is also a danger with his eight chances only being bettered by two other players this season. As we can see, AFC Wimbledon are very capable of creating chances in the areas where Luton struggle.

However, the concern for Luton could be going forward. While they have scored 12 goals, their xG of just 8.83 suggests that they have overachieved in an attacking sense so far. Their three goals from seven shots on target from outside the area is unlikely to continue and, even if you include shots off target and blocked, they have a conversion rate of just under 10% from outside the area, well above the league average of 3.7%. They also have a conversion rate of almost 30% from shots from Centre of Box compared to a league average of 16.4%. They could have good strikers, which could lead to a slightly above average conversion rate, but both these numbers are likely to regress slightly.

It will not help that they come up against an AFC Wimbledon defense that has performed well according to the stats. The 8.5 shots conceded per game puts them in a group of teams that are just behind the elite defensive trio of Oxford, Portsmouth and Northampton and the only area that they show up poorly in is headed chances inside the box. However, only three sides have created fewer headed chances this season than Luton, so one wonders whether they will be able to take advantage. With both Craig Mackail-Smith and Josh McQuoid comfortably under 6`, it is unlikely that they will be putting crosses into the penalty area too often.

Recommended Bets

AFC Wimbledon +0.25 @ 1.77 (Pinnacle)
Adebayo Akinfenwa To Score First @ 7.25 (10Bet)
Tom Elliott To Score First @ 9.0 (Bet365)

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