EFL WEEKEND: The EFL returns for its first February weekend of action, with some big games at the top of each table. We preview four fixtures below, alongside some of our recommended BETDAQ bets.
Norwich City vs Burnley – Saturday 12:30
Norwich recorded successive Championship victories for the first time since September with another free-flowing away performance, winning 4-2 at Coventry a week after thrashing Preston at Deepdale. The result puts them one point behind Blackburn Rovers in the last playoff position, although they will have to overturn an abysmal home record of just one win in nine at Carrow Road if they are to trouble the other promotion candidates.
There seems to be no stopping Burnley at the moment – their dramatic 2-1 comeback win against West Bromwich Albion was their eighth successive Championship victory and nineth at Turf Moor. A whopping 17-point gap separates them and Middlesborough in third, so automatic promotion back to the Premier League is beginning to look like a formality for Vincent Kompany’s men.
Burnley actually find themselves underdogs in the markets for this one, but Norwich have only won one of their last 11 meetings with the Clarets in the Championship – a run stretching back to 2006. We doubted Vincent Kompany’s men last week and paid the price, so this time we’re backing Burnley at 2.92 to extend their lead at the top of the division.
Norwich City vs Burnley markets
Rotherham United vs Sheffield United – Saturday 12:30
Another lunchtime kick-off on Saturday sees Sheffield United travel to South Yorkshire rivals Rotherham. The home side picked up a commendable draw away at Watford a fortnight ago but remain just five points above the drop zone having played a game more than their relegation rivals. Their shock 4-0 win against Blackburn a fortnight ago was their first win at the New York Stadium in five attempts and their first home clean sheet since September, so there’s plenty to be optimistic about ahead of Derby Day for fans of the Millers.
An early strike by Daniel Jebbison was enough to see Sheffield United past struggling Hull City two weeks ago – extending their unbeaten league run to eight games. The Blades find themselves 15 points adrift of leaders Burnley but 12 ahead off third-placed Middlesborough, meaning only a dramatic turn of form (either way) will see them finish anywhere else than second.
Rotherham and their fans will be up for this – this will be the first league meeting between the sides at the New York Stadium since 2018 – but it’s likely Sheffield United’s quality will overpower the hosts on the day. With that in mind, we’re backing the visitors at 1.73 to tighten their grip in the automatic playoff places.
Rotherham United vs Sheffield United markets
Portsmouth vs Barnsley – Saturday 15:00
Portsmouth’s two-game winning run was brought to a sobering end with a 2-1 defeat to Peterborough last week, opening up a nine-point gap between them and the playoff places. Danny Cowley finds his side now firmly planted in midtable, with their recent ten-game winless run all but extinguishing any hopes of the automatic promotion places that were being flirted with at the start of the season.
Barnsley picked up a solid 2-1 win away at Oxford United on Wednesday to tighten their grip on sixth place, whilst still having three games in hand on Bolton Wanderers in fifth. The Tykes have only conceded 11 goals away from home this season – the third best record in the league – and will want to build on their recent run of away from home to further consolidate their place in the playoff positions, having lost just one of their last five fixtures on the road.
Portsmouth have had the better of this fixture in recent matchups – unbeaten in seven games at Fratton Park against Saturday’s opposition in all competitions – but Barnsley will fancy their chances having beaten the likes of Sheffield Wednesday and Shrewsbury away from home already this season. Backing the away side at 2.62 is the play here.
Portsmouth vs Barnsley markets
Carlisle United vs Harrogate Town – Saturday 15:00
Carlisle continue to fly high after Tuesday’s demolition of Barrow, which extended their winning run in League Two to four games – their longest of the season so far. Paul Simpson’s side have now netted 48 goals this season – the highest record in the division – further proving their potency in attack in front of their own fans.
Things are looking less rosy for Harrogate, with Saturday’s 1-0 loss at home to Sutton making it five games without a win in the league. The Sulphurites have won two away games all season and haven’t kept a clean sheet on the road since September, so it’ll likely be backs-to-the-wall stuff against a Carlisle side who have won each of their last four home league games, scoring 11 in the process.
The hosts seem reasonably priced given the disparity between the two sides, so we’re backing Carlisle at 1.66 to continue their good record at home.
Carlisle United vs Harrogate Town markets