EFL: The EFL resumes action this weekend, including the return of the Championship after a four-week hiatus. We preview four games below, including some of our recommended BETDAQ bets.
Blackburn Rovers v Preston North End – Saturday 12:00
Ewood Park will host the lunchtime kick off on Saturday as Blackburn Rovers take on Preston North End in a Lancashire Derby. It’s the second successive derby game Blackburn have contested, having lost 3-0 to fierce rivals Burnley in their most recent fixture before the World Cup break. They face a Preston side this weekend who were also defeated in their last pre-break game, shipping four goals at home to Millwall.
Blackburn have won each of their last six games at Ewood Park – only conceding twice in that run – which represents their best league form at home since 1996, when they were still in the Premier League! Their heavy defeat to the Clarets shouldn’t discourage a very feasible promotion push, though you feel they’d have to work on an attacking record that currently stands at 24 goals from 21 league fixtures.
Preston possess the second best away record in the Championship, having lost just two of their ten games on the road this season, although they’ve only kept one clean sheet in their last five matches on their travels. It’ll most likely be a low-scoring affair, but we like the value of Blackburn for this one. Backing the home side at 2.36 is the play here.
QPR v Burnley – Sunday 13:00
A miserable run of form for Queen’s Park Rangers, which saw them surrender their position at the top of the Championship table, was confounded by highly-rated manager Michael Beale departing for Rangers over the World Cup break. The west London side desperately need to pick themselves up after failing to win any of their last five league games – a streak which now places them closer on points to Blackpool in 23rd than Burnley in first.
And speaking of the Clarets, it’s Vincent Kompany’s men who make the visit to Loftus Road on Sunday afternoon – a ground where they haven’t tasted victory since 2008. Burnley put behind their hectic 5-2 loss to Sheffield United in early November with a dominant 3-0 victory over rivals Blackburn in their last fixture – a win which maintained their three-point cushion at the top of the division.
The Clarets possess a questionable away record, especially given their supremacy at home, having won only two of their last seven games on the road and keeping just one clean sheet in that time. Vincent Kompany’s side certainly seem a lot more vulnerable away from Turf Moor, but they will fortunately come up against a QPR outfit who really seem to be there for the taking. With that in mind, backing Burnley at 2.24 looks an enticing offer.
Cambridge United v Plymouth Argyle – Saturday 15:00
Cambridge seem completely unable to detach themselves from this staggeringly poor run of domestic form, which was culminated by a bitterly disappointing 93rd minute loss to fellow strugglers Forest Green last weekend. The Amber Army have now lost 10 of their last 13 League One fixtures, a run which has seen them slowly gravitate towards the relegation zone.
Whilst a visit from League One leaders Plymouth Argyle seems daunting, Cambridge will take confidence in the fact that the Pilgrims are experiencing their own downturn in form, with last weekend’s shock 2-0 loss at home to Port Vale making it three winless games on the bounce for Steven Schumacher’s side. Plymouth were once deemed untouchable in the context of their promotion push, but a tricky November period means only one point separates them from Ipswich Town in second.
Because of their indifferent recent results, Plymouth seem quite generously priced here at 2.28. Only a fool would ignore the away side’s poor run, but there conversely remains a huge gulf in quality and confidence between the two sides. Backing the visitors at 2.28 therefore looks good value.
Harrogate Town v Northampton Town – Saturday 13:00
Harrogate strung together successive wins for the first time this season when they thumped Rochdale 4-1 last week to go alongside their dominant 3-0 victory over Mansfield Town a fortnight before. Those triumphs put their five-game winless streak behind them and saw them leapfrog Rochdale into 20th, though work still needs to be done if they are to secure a fourth successive season in League Two.
Their visitors on Saturday, third-placed Northampton Town, have been victorious in both of these club’s two historical meetings, triumphing 3-0 at home and 2-1 away last season. The Cobblers have won each of their last three league games on the road to keep them firmly in the running for an automatic playoff place and possess the second-best away record in the division, behind only league-leaders Leyton Orient.
Northampton certainly seem more confident away from home at the moment, and will fancy their chances against a Harrogate side who have only kept one clean sheet in their last seven games in front of their own fans. With all this in mind, backing the away side at 2.39 looks reasonable value.