England face Malta on Saturday in Gareth Southgate’s first game in charge as caretaker and it should be a fairly gentle introduction to top level international management for the former Under-21 boss.
The Three Lions will be expected to win by a big margin but it may not be quite as straightforward as many expect. Malta were downed 5-1 by Scotland in their last fixture and also shipped in six against the Czech Republic recently but they’ve also faced Croatia, Austria and Italy within the last year or so and in each of those three matches they only lost by a one goal margin.
Malta are 1/1 with a +4 handicap and that could be the way to go if you are considering a handicap bet. England have only managed to score more than two goals twice in their last 13 fixtures and it would be no surprise if they had to work hard to break Malta down on Saturday.
Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford missed out on a place in the previous England squad under Sam Alardyce but has been recalled by Southgate, who worked with the forward with the U21s. If he starts he could be worth a look in the first goalscorer market at 3/1. Michail Antonio didn’t feature against Slovakia but has been retained by Southgate and may see some action against Malta, if he gets some time on the pitch he is a potential goalscorer and is 27/20 to mark what would be his debut with a goal.
If England make a good start this could turn into a hammering for Malta but I think the visitors will at least put up an early fight and keep it tight in the first half. They may have been well beaten by Scotland in their last outing but at half-time it was 1-1 in that match and it could be frustrating at first for England and Southgate on Saturday. With that in mind my top bet for this clash is the 13/10 on offer for Malta to come out on top in the first half with a +2 handicap.