November 28, 2023
The Pitch EFL Betting Tips and Odds, With Gab Sutton
EFL betting tips and odds from our EFL expert Gab Sutton. Gab will scour the upcoming matches in League One, League Two and the Championship. Gab will tell you what games to watch every week, offering tips and advice based on his experience and knowledge from being a lifelong fan of all things EFL.
Gab will also cover any league changes, promotions, relegations and staff and player changes. As well as the occasional FA Cup game.
FA Cup Betting Tips and Odds for December 2nd, 2023: Underdogs to watch this weekend
Football League expert Gab highlights his best tips for the weekend’s FA Cup matches.
Gillingham to beat Charlton – 13/5
It’s been a mixed bag for Stephen Clemence in his first Head Coach role at Gillingham, with the FA Cup 1st Round progression at Hereford preceding two wins and two defeats in the league, as the former Birmingham midfielder looks to evolve the style at Priestfield.
What Clemence has in his favour, though, is an excellent spine, with a top shot stopper in Jake Turner, a fine centre-back pairing of Conor Masterson and Max Ehmer, one of the best midfielders in League Two in Ethan Coleman, and Macauley Bonne up top.
Bonne hasn’t quite caught fire just yet, but he’s scored goals in the Championship with Charlton, Saturday’s opponents.
The Addicks have been carried by individuals so far this season: Corey Blackett-Taylor started the season in great form, and more recently it’s been Alfie May grabbing the headlines for Michael Appleton’s midtable side, but they’re a little short of being a fluid, coherent side.
Barnet to win at Newport – 17/10
Newport eased their relegation fears with back-to-back victories over Stockport, stopping the leaders from beating a record winning streak that had lasted 21 years (the record, not the winning streak).
The Exiles have a thin squad, though, and are only just getting players back from injury, while visitors Barnet are sitting proudly in third in the National League with 42 points from their first 22 games.
Dean Brennan’s side reached the Play-Offs last season, and look like they can repeat the trick this year if they can bounce back from a tricky run of fixtures.
Doncaster to win at Peterborough – 5/1
Doncaster are a better side than 17th in League Two might suggest.
Grant McCann’s troops have often found themselves on the wrong side of fine margins this season, and have had to contend with a long injury list, but they’ve started to get some key players like Tom Anderson and Tommy Rowe back fit.
In attack, meanwhile, the pairing of Joe Ironside and Mo Faal can do damage to anyone.
Donny will target the cup as a massive opportunity to build some confidence, whereas Peterborough are challenging for promotion from League One with a thin squad, so if they were to rotate, they’d give their hosts an excellent chance.
Grimsby to win at Oxford – 11/2
Grimsby earned a valuable point at MK Dons on Tuesday, in an encouraging performance.
Head Coach David Artell had just one coaching session with the players before the trip to Buckinghamshire, after being officially appointed Mariners boss on Monday.
With that in mind, it could have been a tough evening for Town, at an MK side further along down their trajectory of their own stylistic progression.
Instead, they were able to impose themselves on the game very well, especially in the first half, and they had the better chances in the second too.
With that in mind, Grimsby can be hopeful of being competitive at the Kassam Stadium, where Oxford may rotate as they find themselves in a race for automatic promotion with Bolton, Portsmouth and Peterborough.
Horsham to win at Sutton – 11/2
Without going full-on Andy Tate, Horsham got this tie on a technicality!
The Isthmian League outfit earnt a 3-3 draw at Barnsley in the 1st Round, losing the replay 3-0 at The Camping World Community Stadium – but their League One opponents were subsequently disqualified from the competition for fielding an ineligible player.
As such, Horsham have another shot, and they’ll be determined to make it count.
Hosts Sutton are unbeaten in five in League Two, but they drew four of those games and the bottom side were fortunate to avoid defeat in at least three of them.
Matt Gray’s team look far weaker than the one that’s challenged for the Play-Offs at this level in the previous two seasons, after winning the National League title, so Dominic di Paola might smell blood – the Hornets have won three of their last four league games.
*Odds correct at time of publishing. Available to UK residents (excluding Northern Ireland) aged 18+ only. T&Cs apply. www.begambleaware.org
Previous Week’s EFL Betting Tips
EFL Betting Tips and Odds for November 25th, 2023: Underdogs to watch this weekend
Football League expert Gab highlights his best tips for the weekend’s matches.
Championship: Saturday, QPR to win at Norwich – 17/5,
Norwich are very much in a transitional phase as a club after a series of mistakes have led to a disappointing couple of years, as such the expectations on Head Coach David Wagner weren’t astronomical.
Nonetheless, 46 points from 36 league games in charge isn’t the return the Canaries were hoping for, especially with the defensive issues that haven’t been addressed, with the team shipping 32 goals, the joint-most in the Championship, and form points in only one direction.
A lot of time has been wasted because outgoing Sporting Director Stuart Webber handed in his resignation in March, but it’s taken eight months from that point for replacement Ben Knapper to take office.
Knapper hasn’t wanted to make the early call to replace Wagner, opting instead to review the situation, but the risk is that the current form reading two wins in 11 continues.
QPR, meanwhile, have steadied the ship under Martí Cifuentes with the relegation strugglers beginning the Spaniard’s reign with successive draws and more positive performances.
The Rs can welcome defender Jake Clarke-Salter and wing-back Reggie Cannon back into the fold after injury, and if they can find their end product, they could pull off a surprise result.
Championship: Saturday, Plymouth Argyle to beat Sunderland – 85/40
Plymouth Argyle are about where most expected after winning promotion from League One last season, hovering just above the drop zone in 19th, with a healthy five-point cushion.
Perhaps more surprising is that the Devonians are the Championship’s second-highest home goalscorers, having hit 20 in eight games at Home Park this season, winning four times.
Finn Azaz and Morgan Whittaker have lit up the second tier, after making the step up: the former is inventive, creative, and not shy to taking risks, while the latter has 10 direct goal involvements.
Steven Schumacher will have to go without star striker Ryan Hardie, who remains sidelined with a hamstring problem, but they possess plenty of alternative threats.
Visitors Sunderland have taken seven points from the last nine available, but they’ll be without left-back Dennis Cirkin, and are sweating over the fitness of key defender Dan Ballard, while the striker situation is one they’ve had trouble with all season.
League One: Saturday, Carlisle to beat Charlton – 9/5
It should be a full house at Brunton Park, in terms of home fans at least, as natives welcome in the Piatak regime.
The American family, who own the logistics business Castle Sports Group, have completed a takeover of Carlisle United, which supporters are thrilled about.
Andrew Jenkins and other board members leave with goodwill for saving the club in the past, but it was clear the club needed new investment and fresh ideas, which should be exactly what the Piataks provide.
The consortium have shown all the right signs leading up to the takeover, which suggests they are coming in with the right intentions, so this could mark the start of an exciting new dawn for the Cumbrians.
There’s every chance it begins with a bang against Charlton, who have won just one in their last four, and needed an FA Cup replay to get past eighth-tier Cray Valley Paper Mills.
League One: Saturday, Lincoln to beat Barnsley – 19/10
Michael Skubala got his first win as Lincoln City Head Coach in midweek, winning 1-0 at Leyton Orient after a defeat by the same scoreline the previous Saturday, at Stevenage.
Athletic ball carrier TJ Eyoma has been imperious at the back since Skubala took charge, and dynamo Ethan Hamilton continues to impress in midfield.
Elsewhere, Jack Vale has impressed with his work ethic up top on Tuesday, before forward Jovon Makama replaced him to make a big impact, along with the creative Danny Mândroiu.
The Imps have an exciting squad and aren’t far off being a top-six side, whereas visitors Barnsley are in something of a false position.
The Reds are 6th, but they’ve taken just one point from six games against top-half opposition.
League Two: Saturday, Harrogate to win at Crawley – 14/5
Harrogate have enjoyed life on the road of late, winning their last four away league games in succession, as well as thumping Marine 5-1 in the FA Cup at Rossett Park.
Simon Weaver has nearly enough confirmed that talisman Luke Armstrong, whose application hasn’t been exactly what was hoped for since a Deadline Day move to Wrexham fell through, won’t be in his plans between now and January.
If anything, though, that clarity seems to have helped the Sulphurites, who have been able to find a way of playing without the target man.
Town has the creative Matty Daly, two speedy attackers in Sam Folarin and Abraham Odoh, as well as one of the league’s top right-backs in Kayne Ramsey.
Hosts Crawley, meanwhile, are on the slide with five defeats in their last seven league games.
EFL Betting Tips and Odds for November 18th, 2023: League Two underdogs to watch this weekend
Accrington Stanley to beat Wrexham – 23/10
Accrington Stanley have won five of their nine home League Two games this season, and seem to be making The Crown (the ground, not the Netflix series) something of a fortress.
There’s a raucous atmosphere there, normally, because of the spirit of the Clayton End and the fans being so close to the pitch, and it could be especially true of the visit of Wrexham.
The Red Dragons will bring a lot of supporters themselves, and there’s a grudge against them as, while Stanley have defied the odds almost every season for the last 24 years, their visitors get far more mainstream, global coverage due to their Hollywood owners.
Logical? Of course, but that doesn’t mean Accy fans don’t understandably get a little indignant about it, and that may contribute to a lively atmosphere.
On the pitch, John Coleman has recruited well with defender Brad Hills and striker Josh Andrews proving fabulous acquisitions.
The visitors are flying high in second after three straight wins, but you can count on one hand the number of games they’ve played well in this season, so perhaps the gap in budget between these sides may not be mirrored on the pitch.
Harrogate to beat Swindon – 23/10
Swindon look in danger of plummeting down the table.
The start of the season was very exciting for Town, as they were the ones scoring all the goals with Dan Kemp and Jake Young running riot in a frenetically attacking system, but more recently the boot’s been on the other foot.
Michael Flynn’s side were thumped 7-4 by Aldershot in the FA Cup, having been, astonishingly, seven behind in that game to a side in the league below, and they’ve lost their last four league games too, leaving them with the division’s third-worst defensive record.
The timing of the fixture looks favourable for Harrogate, who won 1-0 at Walsall last time out, and they know how to defend when experienced centre-backs Anthony O’Connor and Rod McDonald are around.
The Sulphurites don’t have an out-and-out goalscorer due to Luke Armstrong’s perceived falling out with boss Simon Weaver, with the target man’s attitude in question after his deadline day move to Wrexham fell through.
However, Jack Muldoon has played the false nine role nicely, and when he drops in to link up with the creative Matty Daly, there’s more space for direct runners Sam Folarin and Abraham Odoh to get in behind.
Folarin and Odoh will feel they can wreck havoc against an uncertain opposing rear-guard.
Tranmere to win at Sutton – 2/1
Tranmere boosted their survival chances with an emphatic 3-0 victory over relegation rivals Forest Green.
Centre-backs Tom Davies and Jordan Turnbull were back to the kind of form that was expected of them before the season, Rob Apter offered effervescent craft and trickery on the right, while Kristian Dennis proved why he’s one of the best finishers in League Two with an ice cool strike.
The only negative from that afternoon at Prenton Park is that Luke Norris sustained an injury, so it could be that Connor Jennings moves up top to partner Dennis as a physical reference point, while Sam Taylor – back from injury – takes his place on the left.
Rovers look to have a formula to take them into the festive period, where they will be hoping the right two or three additions carry them to safety, ahead of a summer rebuild.
Sutton, meanwhile, are two points adrift at the bottom with 12 defeats in their first 17 league games.
EFL Betting Tips and Odds for November 11th, 2023: Championship underdogs to watch this weekend
Championship: West Brom to win at Southampton – 14/5
West Brom’s 3-1 victory over Hull last weekend was one of sumptuous counter-attacking football: they sat deep, set up the traps and pounced on the break.
The Albion adapted far better to their opponents to the rainy conditions, and had a star in Grady Diangana – who looks confident, reinvigorated, and full of energy, grabbing a wonderful pair of assists.
Alex Mowatt kept play ticking over in midfield, too, and was economical in his use of the ball, but the key once again is Carlos Corberan.
The Spaniard is arguably the best manager in the Championship, and despite inheriting a largely ageing squad, so many of his players have improved over the last 12 months.
With that in mind, the Baggies have a chance.
Southampton have a less proven boss in Russ Martin, who is highly committed to his extreme, possession-heavy style of play.
The Saints can be vulnerable without the best plan sometimes to handle turnovers, and that’s where the visitors will feel they can profit.
League One: Cambridge to win at Peterborough – 4/1
In a sparse region, Peterborough and Cambridge would consider one another their primary modern day rivals, despite being 42 miles apart.
It’s a game that means a lot to both sets of fans, and the derby day atmosphere could be something of a leveller, with the Posh having the better players on paper.
Darren Ferguson’s side do their best work in quick, transitional attacks, using their quality out wide, which is why they’ve been able to win away at the better teams in the league like Barnsley and Blackpool.
Peterborough won’t be able to do so much of that against Cambridge, who will sit compact, and make sure veteran centre-backs Michael Morrison and Ryan Bennett get lots of protection, both from Paul Digby at the base of midfield, and from full-backs Liam Bennett and Danny Andrew.
The U’s have maintained a consistent XI this season, too, with 10 players starting 11 out of a possible 16 league games, and the only bone of contention has been who starts on the left wing, the answer often being Sullay Kaikai or Saikou Janneh.
That familiarity and synergy could be an advantage for Mark Bonner’s side on derby day…
League One: Reading to win at Shrewsbury – 2/1
Reading were ensured that the losing streak, which saw them fail to add a single point to their tally in October, did not extend beyond five league games thanks to a 1-1 draw with Bristol Rovers in midweek.
Rubén Sellés’ side are now seven points adrift of safety, but the good news is that owner Dai Yongge has flown into England this week for takeover talks, with former Newcastle owner Mike Ashley reportedly interested, along with Luxembourg-American fund Genevra Associates, an investment management company.
Whether the encouragement translates to the travelling fans, it’s plausible the Royals might be able to get the win they need to breathe fresh hope into their season.
And, while their position suggests a team with none of that, they’ve won 9-0 in the EFL Trophy this season at Exeter – sure, that was with first-team squad players against a team made up largely of schoolboys, but 12 of the 16 players who featured for them that night were also 21 or under.
The Royals also won 5-0 at Swindon in the same competition, and they’ve beaten prime promotion candidates Bolton 2-1 in the league, too – so on their day, they can be dangerous, it’s just they’ve not had their day anywhere near often enough.
However, they travel to a Shrewsbury side who have been turgid this season, have lacked creativity and lost their last three league games without scoring, dropping to 19th in the process.
League Two: Doncaster to win at Wimbledon – 3/1
It seems increasingly likely that League Two’s automatic promotion places will go to three from Stockport, Wrexham, Notts County and Mansfield, with a scramble for the remaining three Play-Off places – Wimbledon and Doncaster are hoping to be part of that.
The Dons come into Saturday’s game off the back of a stunning 5-1 thumping of League One strugglers Cheltenham, but their league form paints a less favourable picture, with no wins in five for Johnnie Jackson’s side.
The visitors, meanwhile, are steadily climbing the table with three wins in their last four.
Louis Jones is having a fantastic season between the sticks, Tom Anderson has marshalled the back-line superbly, Zain Westbrooke is changing minds in midfield, while Joe Ironside is forging a strong pairing with Mo Faal.
Grant McCann’s side have momentum on their side, and the six-point gap to the Play-Offs looks more than bridgeable.
League Two: Salford to beat Mansfield – 3/1
Since key midfielder Elliot Watt returned from injury to start, Salford have taken 15 points from eight games, having accrued a mere six from the opening eight.
It may be too small a sample size to declare that Watt makes the Ammies 150% better, but his influence can’t be understated, both in terms of deliveries, from open play and set pieces, and also his feather touch and sublime passing range.
With the 23-year-old, Neil Wood’s side are a completely different proposition, which is why they shouldn’t be underestimated, even for the visit of unbeaten Mansfield.
The Stags squad was already thin due to injuries, and it’s been stretched in the last two weeks by fixture congestion, with Nigel Clough’s side competing in four different competitions in that period.
To make matters worse, Ollie Clarke came off in the FA Cup defeat to Wrexham with a thigh problem, joining fellow midfielder Stephen Quinn on the sidelines, along with defenders Alfie Kilgour, Elliott Hewitt and John-Joe O’Toole, plus forward Lucas Akins.
Saturday could be a game too far, and if the visitors aren’t at their best in terms of intensity, there’s a chance Watt takes control of proceedings.
EFL Betting Tips and Odds for November 5th, 2023: Championship underdogs to watch this weekend
Championship: Sheffield Wednesday to win at Bristol City – 5/2
Naturally, Sheffield Wednesday will be judged by the traders partly as the team that had the worst start in Championship history and have just six points and seven goals to their name from their first 14 games.
However, there’s been a notable improvement from the Owls under new Head Coach Danny Rohl, even in the back-to-back away defeats to nil that preceded Sunday’s 2-0 win over Rotherham.
Wednesday had been competitive at Watford and Plymouth Argyle, where they couldn’t quite put their chances away, and fully deserving of their victory over the Millers, in which they could.
The first 11 games had come under Xisco Munoz, who appears to have a very surface-level understanding of tactics, and for a certain period, he got away with a lot of poor management because of the drama around the unpopular and outspoken owner, Dejphon Chansiri.
Danny Rohl, however, is a lot more detail-driven, and as a result, the Steel City outfit look a different proposition.
Wednesday are pressing aggressively, using the ball nicely, have a solid back-three of Dominic Iorda, Bambo Diaby and Di’Shon Bernard, Callum Paterson and Reece James put in excellent shifts in the wing-back spots, while George Byers has been running the midfield.
Josh Windass had cut a frustrated figure under Munoz but is now coming alive under Rohl, and so are Michael Smith and Anthony Musaba.
Target man Smith put in a vigorous performance capped by his brace, with both goals assisted by Musaba, who delivered an electric performance with his direct running.
With that in mind, Saturday’s game could be trickier for Bristol City than the table suggests – especially with the BS3 outfit managerless, following Nigel Pearson’s dismissal.
Championship: Plymouth Argyle to beat Middlesbrough – 11/4
Joint-sixth top goalscorers in the Championship, Plymouth Argyle aren’t to be underestimated.
The side that have thumped beaten Huddersfield 3-1, defeated Blackburn and Sheffield Wednesday both 3-0, and annihilated Norwich 6-2 are quite the threat on familiar soil, having scored 17 of their 23 league goals at Home Park, which is also where each of their league victories have come.
Recently, Steven Schumacher has been able to strengthen his side further by bringing star goalkeeper Michael Cooper back into the fold: Summer recruit Conor Hazard has proved a strong shot-stopper in the interim period, but Cooper’s comparative strength with his feet is a significant plus for how Argyle like to play.
While the Devonians haven’t yet established defensive stability due to frequent formation changes, and the fact they’ve sometimes had wing-backs operating as full-backs, they do have quality.
Luke Cundle, in midfield, is a technically accomplished high-volume passer who connects play well between Adam Randell or Jordan Houghton and the more attacking players, like the more high-risk, high-reward Finn Azaz, who can frustrate but can also create – on his day he’s a match-winner.
In attack, Ryan Hardie and Morgan Whittaker are the Championship’s joint-fifth top goalscorers, with the former bringing strong running into the channels and the latter offering pace, agility and guile – and while the prodigiously talented Bali Mumba hasn’t set the Championship alight just yet, we could be close to see the best of him.
Middlesbrough might be in great form with six wins in their last seven league games, but they were quite a languid side earlier in the season that struggled to do the basics, and if complacency were to creep in, the hosts have the wherewithal to capitalize.
Championship: Cardiff to win at Stoke – 23/10
Cardiff are on a high after last weekend’s 2-0 Severnside Derby victory over Bristol City, with back-to-back wins taking Erol Bulut’s side into the top six.
It was a game high on effort and short on chances, but the Bluebirds grew in confidence from star man Perry Ng’s first-half header, before clinching the points through Rubin Colwill’s firm strike in stoppage time.
It was the same XI that had thrashed Huddersfield 4-0 in midweek, and it seems Bulut has established his best team, so City now have a synergy and understanding that could see them put a good run of form together.
Dimitrios Goutas’ battling qualities complement Marc McGuiness’ ball-playing talent, while the powerful Manolis Siopsis continues to capture the hearts of natives in midfield for his tenacity and heart.
Cardiff will hope to find another level in terms of quality in the final third, more akin to what we saw at Huddersfield, but they have some great foundations.
Hosts Stoke have won their last three, but they’ve not won a game with more possession than their opponents since the opening day, and that might be something they’ll have to do on Saturday.
Championship: Sunderland to win at Swansea – 8/5
Ok, so underdog might be pushing it, but 8/5 looks a big price for a side that’s won half their games this season, facing bottom half opposition.
Sunderland come into Saturday’s game off the back of a 3-1 victory over Norwich, showing belief to overturn an early setback.
Although Tony Mowbray’s side operates with a 4-1-4-1, they build-up with a 3-2-4-1 shape with right-back Trai Hume inverting into deep midfield alongside Pierre Ekwah, allowing the other three defenders to shuffle across.
Because opponents have both Hume and Ekwah to target, their press can become stretched and it allows Dan Neil and Jobe Bellingham – two of the most exciting midfield talents in the country – to find spaces between the lines to turn and create.
They have the best parts of a possession side and those of a transitions side, because when they do play through the press, the game opens up for two of the Championship’s top ball-carriers Jack Clarke and Patrick Roberts.
Clarke was outstanding against the Canaries, bringing aggression against the ball and grace with it, gliding past defenders with ease, as well as the ability to create dangerous openings – and then there’s Nazarii Rusyn.
Mowbray has struggled to find the right striker this season, despite four additions in that area, with Mason Burstow and Luís Hemir struggling for form, while Eliezar Mayenda and Rusyn have been injured – but the latter was largely impressive last time out.
The Ukrainian worked tirelessly against the ball, ran the channels, hassling and harrying defenders, and while his game remains unrefined, he should have enough to extract the quality elsewhere in the team.
Sunderland have one of the best players in the league in their position in seven or eight of their XI, whereas for Swansea, that’s only true of four or five areas – and Michael Duff’s midtable side have lost two of their last three.
EFL Betting Tips and Odds for October 28th, 2023: EFL underdogs to watch this weekend
EFL pundit Gab Sutton continues a new feature, picking out potential surprise results across the weekend’s action.
Bristol City to win at Cardiff – 85/40
Bristol City might have lost four of their last six league games, but three of those defeats have come to the best teams in the league in Leicester, Leeds and Ipswich, and Nigel Pearson’s side have been broadly rock solid this season.
Pearson was happy with his side’s showing against the latter, and while they may not be at full strength defensively if Zak Vyner is still out, there’s reason to think they can bounce back with a win, like they had from the previous two league defeats.
Cardiff ran riot at Huddersfield in midweek, winning 4-0 in West Yorkshire, but they’d taken one point from the previous three and despite decent recruitment, it’s hard to see them finishing higher than midtable.
West Brom to win at Coventry – 2/1
Patience was the order of the day for West Brom, when they scored twice in the last half hour to see off QPR.
Carlos Corberan’s side could take some encouragement that they could still be creative, even in the absence of John Swift, who picked up an injury in the 3-1 loss at Birmingham just before the international break.
It’s 10 points from the last five games for the Baggies, who are now in the Championship’s top six and look good value for victory in their short hop across the Midlands.
Hosts Coventry had been hoping to build on last season’s run to the Play-Off Final, where they lost to Luton, but back-to-back defeats has left them languishing in 20th – although, it’s such a packed table that if they’d won those two games, they’d be fifth.
The Sky Blues lost 2-0 at strugglers Rotherham on Wednesday, as they continue to adjust to life without star men Gus Hamer and Viktor Gyokeres.
Lincoln to win at Exeter – 21/10
Lincoln produced arguably their best performance of the season in midweek, defeating Charlton 3-1.
Hakeeb Adelakun was set to leave the club in the summer, but a deadline day move fell through and an injury crisis that left the Imps without a natural centre-forward has seen the winger by trade get his chance down the middle, in the absence of Ben House, Tyler Walker and Jack Vale, until the loanee’s substitute appearance on Tuesday.
Adelakun starred with a brace in that game, and so did Lasse Sorensen, while the midfield of Ethan Hamilton and Ethan Erhahon continues to impress.
Now that City have shown signs of solving their goalscoring issues, they could put a run together under the interim guidance of Tom Shaw, who’s begun with back to back victories to put his case forward for the permanent job.
Hosts Exeter, meanwhile, have lost their last six and put in a particularly poor showing in their midweek 2-0 loss at Derby.
Wycombe to win at Oxford – 14/5
Wycombe lost 4-2 to Bolton in midweek, but they showed a level of resilience we might not have associated with them at the very start of the season when they came back from two down to draw level with eight to play, even if they couldn’t quite make it count.
Matt Bloomfield’s side have made strides this season, and while the former Chairboys stalwart wouldn’t claim to have quite his predecessor’s level of charisma and motivational qualities – then again, few do – he’s evolved this team stylistically, and it seems they haven’t needed to write themselves off a transitional season in midtable to do that.
The loan signings of 6’5″ defender Joe Low, midfield prodigy Freddie Potts, tenacious number 10 Killian Phillips and talented striker Dale Taylor have unquestionably helped, especially with the latter two proven to deliver at this level.
The younger players have come into a strong dressing room, where Max Stryjek, Richard Keogh, Josh Scowen, David Wheeler and Sam Vokes bring the leadership, giving Wanderers a lovely mix of youth and experience.
With that in mind, there’s nobody for them to truly fear and they have every chance of getting a result on Saturday, even at an impressive Oxford side.
Sutton to beat Bradford – 19/10
It might seem foolhardy to side with the league’s bottom side, but Sutton have shown signs of life recently.
Matt Gray’s side thumped Walsall 4-0 in early October, as fans found themselves stunned to see their team four ahead before half-time, after a poor showing against Salford the previous Tuesday.
The U’s couldn’t follow it up, losing 4-1 at Doncaster the following week, but they then played well against Morecambe, though conceding soft goals was their undoing in a 3-2 defeat, before a gallant showing at Wrexham in midweek – though again, they lost, 2-1.
Nonetheless, the pummelling of Walsall – and Notts County on the opening day – suggest Sutton can turn it on sporadically, and if they can ally a gradual improvement in recent performances with stronger defending at individual moments, they might have hope.
For visitors Bradford, it was a short-lived honeymoon period for interim head coach Kevin McDonald, who’s side were taken apart by MK Dons in midweek: it finished 4-1, with the hosts having hit the woodwork four times, and missed three one-on-ones.
EFL Betting Tips and Odds for October 21st, 2023: EFL underdogs to watch this weekend
EFL pundit Gab Sutton continues a new feature, picking out potential surprise results across the weekend’s action. In a reduced slate this international weekend, he kicks off at Brunton Park…
Championship: Cardiff to win at Blackburn – 12/5
Cardiff were expected to be battling relegation this season, but have surprised a few people under Erol Bulut, sitting pretty in 8th with a respectable 17 points from their first 11 league games.
Plus, the Bluebirds have physical front-man Yakou Meite back fit, and the former Reading forward should give them a better reference point from which to bring Ollie Tanner, Karlan Grant and Joe Ralls into the game.
City could be underrated for their visit to Blackburn, who went into the international break with a 4-0 win at a QPR side in turmoil, but had previously lost four league games on the spin.
Rovers are languishing in 17th, and while they’ve struggled for a clinical centre-forward this season, they also have defensive issues with only Rotherham conceding more league goals than their 21.
Championship: Sheffield Wednesday to win at Watford – 4/1
A speculative pick? Perhaps. Wednesday are bottom of the Championship with three points from their first 11 league games, and are the lowest scorers with five.
There’s a world, however, in which new Head Coach Danny Röhl has an instant impact on the Owls, with the first-time boss coming in with glowing reviews for his coaching work at RB Leipzig and Bayern Munich, as well as with the German national team, where he was assistant to Hansi Flick.
And, considering how big a factor poor coaching from Xisco Muñoz arguably was behind the Steel City club’s disappointing form, then if Röhl as good a coach as is being reported, it’s plausible we see a completely different version of them on the other side of the international break.
Hosts Watford are themselves struggling, and have taken a mere two points from the last 15 available to Valérien Ismaël’s side, while players who were expected to thrive for the Hornets this season – defender RyanPorteous, midfielder Imrân Louza and forward Yáser Asprilla – have all flattered to deceive.
League One: Wigan to win at Exeter – 9/4
Wigan have one of the highest-potential squads in League One, but so far they haven’t quite found the formula to maximize their talent.
In defence and midfield, they’re stacked with young players who could have great seasons individually, but they’re missing some experience.
Between now and January, when the Latics will be hoping to add that despite their transfer embargo, boss Shaun Maloney’s best hope is that Jason Kerr’s return in defence can provide some organisational qualities, and the Celtic loanee Liam Shaw can be the steadying presence in midfield.
Nonetheless, this isn’t a team that’s a million miles away, and with the right subtle tweaks, they’ll have leadership at the back, cohesion in midfield and confidence in attack – everything could click into place very quickly.
Maloney’s side travel to Exeter, who have themselves lost four on the spin and will have to play somebody out of position at right wing-back, with Ilmari Niskanen and Dion Rankine still injured.
League One: Port Vale to win at Stevenage – 3/1
There’s arguably a couple of teams in the top six of League One who would trade their own midfield options for those of Port Vale.
The Valiants boast Sheffield United’s Oli Arblaster, who will almost certainly be in Paul Heckingbottom’s 2024-25 plans if the Blades are relegated to the Championship this season, as well as another loan star in Alfie Devine, who’s played nine games for England Under-20s.
Funso Ojo has been arguably Vale’s best player this season, offering a steadying presence at the base of midfield, while Ben Garrity provides relentless box-to-box energy.
Boss Andy Crosby has had to deploy him as a second striker at times to get him in the team because of the quality of options elsewhere, including the creative Ethan Chislett, who’s enjoyed a good start after joining from AFC Wimbledon.
Vale might have taken just one point from their last five, but they’ve faced some good sides in that period as well and aren’t to be underestimated.
Hosts Stevenage currently sit proudly in fifth, and the newly-promoted club have had an exceptional start, but they’ve taken just one point from four league games against top half opposition.
League Two: Forest Green to win at Mansfield – 5/1
Forest Green’s 5-0 thrashing of Colchester was one of the shock results of League Two last weekend, seeing as it followed six consecutive league defeats for David Horseman’s side, who had previously shown no signs of progression in performance leading up to it.
Nonetheless, the Green Devils were outstanding against the U’s, with Dom Bernard offering nous and experience in defence, as Jacob Maddox and Harvey Bunker providing the kind of midfield tenacity Horseman has wanted from the outset.
Elsewhere, Troy Deeney offered class up top alongside Callum Morton, who hassled and harried all game, Tyrese Omotoye starred out wide, and so did Kyle McAllister, so often the rose among thorns over the last 18 months.
The fans got behind the team from the outset, too, and the full-time celebrations led by Horseman, somewhat resembling the end of a play, suggested a turning of a new leaf at The New Lawn.
Can they build on it? Who knows. But they are a chunky 5/1, and while hosts Mansfield ran out 4-1 victors at rivals Notts County last time out, they have struggled in recent games to break down stubborn, well-drilled opponents, so if Forest Green can emulate last week’s showing, they’re in with a chance.
EFL Betting Tips and Odds for October 14th, 2023: EFL underdogs to watch this weekend
EFL pundit Gab Sutton continues a new feature, picking out potential surprise results across the weekend’s action. In a reduced slate this international weekend, he kicks off at Brunton Park…
Leyton Orient to win at Carlisle – 9/5
Carlisle boss Paul Simpson was surprisingly damning of his players after the EFL Trophy loss to Nottingham Forest U21s.
It came days after the second-most memorable day of his second stint in charge, in which his side won 3-1 at promotion contenders Bolton in front of 4,500 away fans, and could have scored more.
“It was as if tonight, asking professional footballers to play a game of football was a bit of a chore to them.”
The trouble with going public on his disappointment is that Simpson may come to rely on some of those players on Saturday, not necessarily in the starting XI but on the bench, in fact he admitted he would only choose to use three substitutes against Leyton Orient, but he has to pick seven.
Orient are steadily climbing the table with 10 points from their last five league games, after George Moncur’s winner gave them a 2-1 victory over Reading.
Jordan Brown’s midfield partnership with Idris El Mizouni has been a real strong point for the O’s, who are starting to get the kind of results their early-season performances merited.
Sutton to win at Doncaster – 5/2
Harry Smith coming into Matt Gray’s starting XI made a huge difference for Sutton, who went into last week’s hosting of Walsall with just one point from the last 30 available, and went into half-time four goals ahead!
The 6’5″ target man has proved the perfect foil for technical forward Aiden O’Brien, while the hope is that Josh Coley and Omari Patrick are starting to get to grips with the defensive requirements of playing wide in a midfield quartet.
Coley and Patrick are arguably more gifted individuals than stalwarts David Ajiboye and Will Randall, who left this summer, but learning to track back and hold the shape will be crucial, while Christian N’Guessan is starting to step up to league football after making the National League South Team of the Season with Ebbsfleet last year.
After such a strong showing last week, the U’s will be hoping to pile the pressure on Doncaster, who are yet to convert promising performances into results, with Grant McCann’s side – much fancied in pre-season, languishing in 20th.
Bradford to win at Wimbledon – 5/2
Bradford begin Kevin McDonald’s interim stewardship with a 1-0 win over Swindon, and arguably their best showing of the season so far.
Giving the permanent job to a rookie, who hasn’t yet officially retired from playing, would be a huge gamble for a club still unsure of itself on a structural level, even if the experience of Mark Hughes didn’t pay off.
Nonetheless, there could be mileage in the Bantams letting the McDonald effect breathe, in the hope that it will lead to a series of positive performances and results that boost the club’s Play-Off prospects after an underwhelming start.
Richie Smallwood is looking, once again, like the Championship mainstay City signed last summer, and it’s partly because he’s spending more of the games facing the opposition’s goal rather than his own.
Smallwood is not particularly mobile or agile, so collecting the ball off the defence and turning an opponent to play can be a problem, but once he’s facing the right way, his technical prowess comes to the fore straight away, while Alex Gilliead covers the extra defensive ground capably.
Plus, Bobby Pointon looks a prodigious talent: loves to cut inside from the right, and either bring rampaging right-back Brad Halliday, ping a diagonal to Adam Wilson on the other flank, or play an incisive through ball into the creative fulcrum that is Jamie Walker.
Bradford are playing with the handbrake off, and will be hoping the new lease of life can see them into a honeymoon period under McDonald, even as they travel to a Wimbledon side flying high in fourth.
Barrow to win at MK Dons – 12/5
Barrow produced arguably their best performance of the season at Grimsby at the start of October, and although they lost that game 2-1, they could take a lot of positives from a performance in which Pete Wild’s side totalled 23 shots, eight on target.
The Bluebirds built on that showing against leaders Notts County the following Saturday, earning a point thanks to Dean Campbell’s late penalty.
Campbell has been an assured presence in midfield while Luca Stephenson, on loan from Liverpool, replaced Tyrell Warren at right wing-back early on in the 1-1 draw with the Magpies, and subsequently earnt man-of-the-match with a tenacious, all-action display.
Stephenson was a regular for Liverpool U21s last season, helping Barry Lewtas’ side attain second spot in the PL2, and could be an asset to Barrow.
Their hosts, MK Dons, are in freefall: unconvincing wins over Tranmere, Colchester and Doncaster helped put Graham Alexander’s side in a great position at the end of August, but since then they’ve plummeted with three points from the last 21 available.
EFL Betting Tips and Odds for October 7th, 8th 2023: EFL underdogs to watch this weekend
EFL pundit Gab Sutton begins a new feature, picking out potential surprise results across the weekend’s action. He starts at the Ricoh Arena…
Coventry to beat Norwich – 6/4 – The Championship
Coventry completed back-to-back wins in midweek with a 1-0 victory over Blackburn, following Saturday’s 3-1 triumph at QPR. The Sky Blues needed to ride out some pressure against Rovers, in the second half and even the latter stages of the first, with goalkeeper Ben Wilson, wasteful opposition finishing, and favourable officiating getting them over the line.
Nonetheless, Mark Robins’ side have been more clinical in the last two games, with Ellis Simms’ weekend double getting the tall, powerful former Blackpool striker off the mark, and Haji Wright nodding home from close range on Wednesday.
Coventry managed to keep a clean sheet despite some nervy defending: a first shut-out in six will help their confidence, and there has been signs of an identity starting to emerge for them in patches.
Robins wants his centre-backs stepping into midfield to contribute to attacks, and while it’s taken some time for players to acclimatize to the new instructions, it could begin to bear fruit.
The tactical move does allow wing-backs, midfielders and strikers to take up more advanced positions, which increases the passing options for those in possession, and that could help Coventry unpick the aggressive Norwich press.
Plus, the Canaries have lost three of their last four league games, and Simms will fancy his chances of outwitting an ageing centre-back pairing of Shane Duffy and Ben Gibson, who are instructed to play a high line – the outcome could be ominous for the hosts…
Blackpool to win at Charlton – 9/5 – League One
Blackpool lost 3-1 at home to Derby on Saturday, but nonetheless, it’s three wins in five league games for Neil Critchley’s side, who are threatening to climb the table.
Broadly, the Tangerines have been improved since deploying Owen Dale as the corresponding wing-back to CJ Hamilton, rather than Callum Connolly, who has looked at home on the right of a back-three.
Plus, the two games Kylian Kouassi has started have resulted in two wins for the Seasiders, with the Sutton recruit’s energy and running power complementing the movement and finishing ability of strike-partner Jordan Rhodes.
With persistent striker Shayne Lavery also back fit, and prodigiously talented wide forward Karamoko Dembélé in the mix too, the Lancashire outfit have options that should allow them to change the game.
Charlton are favourites after a 4-1 win over Exeter in midweek lifted them to 14th, but the visitors have the minerals to grab a result.
Northampton at Shrewsbury – 17/10 – League One
Northampton might have stayed 17th after Tuesday’s 3-1 victory over Reading, but the result moves them closer in points to the top 10 than the bottom four, on track to secure comfortable survival.
The Cobblers deserved that midweek victory after such a fast-paced start, with stalwart Shaun McWilliams the driving force in midfield, Mitch Pinnock floating between lines to create, and Marc Leonard dictating from deep like the League One Andrea Pirlo.
Northampton then showed another side to their game to hold on in the second half, after influential defender Jon Guthrie was forced off through injury, with strong defending from his replacement, Manny Monthe, and partner Sam Sherring.
Jon Brady’s side have a culture that allows them to thrive in adversity, as we saw last season when they won promotion from League Two despite having a double-figured injury list from January onwards.
Northampton have an excellent goalkeeper in Lee Burge, who showed his value against the Royals with fine reflexes at crucial moments, a solid right-back in the underrated Akin Odimayo, and a left-back in Patrick Brough with outstanding stamina.
So, too, do forwards Louis Appéré and Kieron Bowie, which can create the space for Sam Hoskins to produce the finishing touches as Northampton look to build on a healthy tally of 13 points from their first 10 games.
Shrewsbury, meanwhile, haven’t scored in any of their last seven in all competitions and have plummeted to 19th.
Barrow to beat Notts County – 11/5 – League Two
Barrow produced arguably their best performance of the season on Saturday, although it resulted in defeat, 2-1 at Grimsby.
The Bluebirds “terrorized” their hosts according to boss Pete Wild, in his post-match interview, reflecting on a performance in which his side had 24 shots whilst limiting their hosts to very little, but couldn’t quite fine-tune the details in both boxes as refereeing decisions went against them.
Nonetheless, if Barrow replicate that same performance level with home advantage on an awkward Holker Park pitch, there’s every chance Wild’s side could cause problems for Notts County.
The technically Cumbrian, spiritually Lancashire outfit can create chances through working play patiently but, more relevantly for facing League Two’s possession kings, they are very aggressive in the final third and are so often challenging for second balls.
Visitors Notts County have been outstanding going forward, but they have defensive issues due to playing a back-three comprising only of orthodox centre-backs by trade, and two converted wingers in the wing-back spots.
It’s created a situation whereby the wide centre-backs aren’t aggressive enough, and the wing-backs don’t have the defensive instincts, thus there’s a chasm that some teams have been able to exploit – something the hosts can take encouragement from.
Doncaster to win at Stockport – 5/1 – League Two
Stockport are understandably favourites, after securing a fifth league win in succession, 2-0 over 10-man Forest Green.
The Hatters have been much improved since Dave Challinor switched from his preferred 3-5-2 to a 4-4-2 diamond system, with left-back Ibou Touray in his natural position, and more football on the deck to suit a prolific front-two of Louie Barry and Isaac Olaofe.
If County were close to evens for the three points, there’d be every reason to back them to continue their sumptuous form, but it’s hard to justify backing them as short as 40/85.
Visitors Doncaster are not as bad as their 20th-placed position would suggest, because they played reasonably well at the start of the season without quite getting the rewards, and have since enjoyed a change of fortune with three wins in their last four, leaving natives hoping for a Play-Off charge.
Goalkeeper Louie Jones is building confidence, with battler Tom Anderson and the athletic Joseph Olowu forging a sturdy defensive trio with Owen Bailey, a versatile midfielder who has been putting in some solid shifts.
Wing-backs Tom Nixon and Luke Molyneux are finding form, with the latter starting to show the quality expected from him after he signed from Hartlepool in 2022, while the experienced Tommy Rowe, the cultured Zain Westbrooke and solid Ben Close complementing one another nicely in midfield – but the ones to watch are the front-two.
Joe Ironside is an outstanding chest, feet target man, while Mo Faal is starting to blossom on loan from West Brom, and has proved a serious handful – Donny are better than the odds suggest.
*Odds correct at time of publishing. Available to UK residents (excluding Northern Ireland) aged 18+ only. T&Cs apply. www.begambleaware.org