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Saturday's best bets
1

Saturday's Bets of the Day

We compile the Sporting Life team's best best for Saturday February 16.

2

Sporting Life Accumulator

This week's Sporting Life Accumulator involves four teams from the EFL, enhanced to 22/1 with title sponsors Sky Bet.

Our best bets for the latest FA Cup round3

FA Cup betting preview

Paul Higham casts an eye over the fifth round games in the FA Cup with best bets for every game coming up over the weekend.

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Double injury blow for Man United

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UEFA Nations League: England proven best from set pieces after World Cup

Harry Maguire heads home for England against Sweden at the World Cup
Harry Maguire heads home for England against Sweden at the World Cup

Gareth Southgate will be hoping England can pick up where they left off after surpassing expectations at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, especially when it comes to their set piece play.

The Three Lions reached the semi-finals of the Russia tournament, losing to Croatia in extra-time, and the players came home as heroes after their effort and endeavour.

After discovering their strong set piece capabilities, they could look to use their skill and aerial dominance to get past Spain in their UEFA Nations League opener on Saturday.

UEFA Nations League: Details of the full draw, format & schedule for the new Euro competition

They convened this week ahead of the Wembley clash, as well as a friendly with Switzerland in Leicester next week, and will be hoping to take the summer's positives into the new campaign.

Statistics show Southgate's side were the best performing nation from set pieces in Russia, scoring six goals in total as the likes of Harry Kane, Harry Maguire and John Stones caused a nuisance in opposition boxes.

The goalscoring stats from the World Cup, via Opta
Stats via Opta

Those well-worked moves helped England pip the likes of Uruguay, Colombia and Russia in the set piece charts (see above).

Check out Sky Bet's Price Boost for Kane or Maguire to score a goal assisted by Trippier from 10/1 to 12/1.

Southgate used various sources for inspiration for creative set pieces. The 48-year-old took an interest in NBA, NFL and NHL in the United States, spending time across the Atlantic, while also adopting tactics from closer to home.

Such was his fascination, during his trip he constantly asked questions in an attempt to soak up information on various aspects, including the Americans’ well-planned ‘plays’ in NFL and pick-and-rolls from basketball.

False runs and constant movement in the box to create confusion were one of the options they regularly deployed, but most memorable was the ‘Love Train’ – as described by pundit and former England boss Glenn Hoddle.

A tactic used by Sky Bet League Two side Lincoln for the past couple of seasons, four players line up in a row before the kick is taken, making it hard for the opposition defenders to place their marker before they all break off in different directions and look to create an opening in the process.

Danny Cowley's Lincoln have used the Love Train for a number of seasons at set pieces
Danny Cowley's Lincoln have used the Love Train at set pieces for a number of seasons

This unique take on management shows Southgate’s willingness to learn and try new things in the game and, after England’s success at set pieces, it will no doubt have offered him considerable encouragement – and the confidence to continue with more experimentation from corners and free-kicks.

Harry MaGuire, Harry Kane and John Stones all scored from set pieces during the Russian Tournament, as Kieran Trippier and Ashley Young's deliveries caused opponents so many problems. So looking in this area could prove value and Sky Bet have Price Boosted Kane or Maguire to score a goal assisted by Trippier from 10/1 to 12/1.

Saturday's meeting will also be intriguing as it sees the best passing sides of the group stages meet - England had an 88.8% passing accuracy, the second most. Meanwhile Spain, now under the management of former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique, topped the charts with 91.3%.

Who takes their chances will be key and England will be hoping Golden Boot winner Harry Kane steps up to the occasion once again after scoring six of their 12 goals in Russia.

UEFA Nations League: Details of the full draw, format & schedule for the new Euro competition

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Most Read Football

Saturday's best bets
1

Saturday's Bets of the Day

We compile the Sporting Life team's best best for Saturday February 16.

2

Sporting Life Accumulator

This week's Sporting Life Accumulator involves four teams from the EFL, enhanced to 22/1 with title sponsors Sky Bet.

Our best bets for the latest FA Cup round3

FA Cup betting preview

Paul Higham casts an eye over the fifth round games in the FA Cup with best bets for every game coming up over the weekend.

Javi Gracia: The Spaniard's Watford side are in the last eight of the FA Cup4

Watford book quarter-final place

Watford progressed to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup with a hard-earned 1-0 victory over QPR, despite being outplayed at Loftus Road.

Jesse Lingard: The Manchester United midfielder picked up an injury against PSG5

Double injury blow for Man United

Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial are set to be sidelined for Manchester United's crunch fixtures over the next couple of weeks.

Football Tips

Our best bets for the latest FA Cup round

FA Cup betting preview

Paul Higham casts an eye over the fifth round games in the FA Cup with best bets for every game coming up over the weekend.

Sporting Life Accumulator

This week's Sporting Life Accumulator involves four teams from the EFL, enhanced to 22/1 with title sponsors Sky Bet.

Our best bets for Sunderland v Accrington

A winning night under the Light

The Sky Sports game on Friday takes us to Sunderland where they welcome Accrington. Tom Carnduff has two best bets.