Republic of Ireland v Wales - 1st v 3rd in Group D
Republic of Ireland have emerged as the early frontrunners in a competitive group, having followed up an opening 2-2 draw in Serbia with wins over Georgia, Moldova and, impressively, away to Austria. However, Martin O’Neill will be without several key players due to injury, including Wes Hoolahan, and Wales will sense an opportunity to claim a first win over Ireland since 1992.
Wales are unbeaten in Group D but have been held to three draws from four games, including a potentially damaging 1-1 at home to Georgia, and have so far failed to produce the magic that carried them such a long way at Euro 2016. The talismanic Gareth Bale is fit, though, and looks a decent price at 19/4 with BetVictor to open the scoring. Whether he can inspire them to victory is another story, and in a tightly-contested group the smart money may be on another draw to keep both sides in the running.
- Winner: Republic of Ireland 13/10, Draw 21/10, Wales 23/10 - Bet365
- Top Tip: Draw 21/10 - Bet365
England v Lithuania - 1st v 4th in Group F
Dismal at Euro 2016 and engulfed in controversy when Sam Allardyce left his post as manager, England have nevertheless moved into a strong position after four matches in Group F. They have already claimed victories over Slovakia, Malta and Scotland, as well as drawing in Slovenia, and their recent record in qualifying suggests they should have little problem in disposing of Lithuania, despite being without the likes of Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane.
Lithuania have managed to hold both Slovenia and Scotland, but were thumped 4-0 in Slovakia and another tough day could be on the cards at Wembley. Odds of 11/4 on Draw/England in the half-time/full-time market look quite appealing as Lithuania are likely to set up quite defensively and it may take some time for England to break them down, but it should be comfortable in the end and there is a tempting price of 10/3 on a winning margin of three goals.
- Winner: England 1/8, Draw 7/1, Lithuania 22/1 - Sky Bet
- Top Tip: England to win by 3 goals - 10/3 - Bet365
Northern Ireland v Norway - 2nd v 5th in Group C
Northern Ireland have given themselves a great shot at making the play-offs after holding Czech Republic to a goalless draw and crushing both Azerbaijan and San Marino 4-0 at home. Windsor Park has been a fortress for Northern Ireland for many years and they are the favourites to continue their fine home form, but the odds are still very enticing at 29/20. Norway have already lost away to Azerbaijan and Czech Republic in Group C and, despite having some attacking talent such as Bournemouth’s Josh King, may just be edged out again.
- Winner: Northern Ireland 29/20, Draw 19/10, Norway 9/4 - William Hill
- Top Tip: Northern Ireland to win 29/20 - William Hill
Scotland v Slovenia - 5th v 2nd in Group F
Scotland may have only had four games in Group F, but time is already running out for Gordon Strachan to turn his side’s fortunes around and haul them into contention for a top-two finish. The manager is under more pressure than ever after a 3-0 loss to England in November, although the club form of players such as Ryan Fraser, Stuart Armstrong and Tom Cairney does provide some cause for optimism. It should be a close game against Slovenia, who drew 0-0 with England and whose four group games have produced just six goals, but Scotland will have to push for victory and have the potential to nick a narrow win.
- Winner: Scotland 11/8, Draw 2/1, Slovenia 23/10 - Ladbrokes.
- Top Tip: Scotland to win 1-0 - 6/1 - BetVictor
*Please note, odds may fluctuate.